When it comes to Oakland, California, winning seasons aren’t usually expected unless the Golden State Warriors are being discussed. For the past five years, the Oakland Athletics have been expected to lose every year and are considered to be in a “rebuilding mode.” Apparently, the A’s didn’t catch the memo that they aren’t supposed to win yet. In fact, they shouldn’t be a team winning over 90 games this season and clinching a wild card spot.
The Oakland A’s have had quite an interesting season with being so-so during the first half and scorching hot throughout the second. Nearing the deadline, Oakland had the decision to buy, sell, or stay put. They chose to buy and boy was it an intriguing decision. This choosing of buying players led people to believe that Oakland thought they had a chance. Correction: Oakland actually had a chance to make the playoffs. With slipping under the radar, most baseball fans did not notice this phenomenon occurring.
Billy Beane, the A’s Executive Vice President and David Forst, the General Manager made a bold decision to acquire pieces rather than trade them. Granted, their views on the postseason were pleasing to the eye at that point in time, but no one could have ever predicted what was to come.
After signing right handed pitcher, Edwin Jackson to a minor league deal during spring training, Oakland didn’t have much intention on necessarily bringing him up. Although in June, Jackson made the A’s change their mind and he has definitely impressed. With a 6-3 record, 3.18 ERA, 66 strikeouts in 87.2 innings pitched, Jackson has become one of the A’s most reliable and consistent starters. If not for him, who truly knows where the A’s may be when considering playoff contention.
Along with Jackson, the Athletics acquired star reliever Jeurys Familia from the New York Mets at the end of the July for two somewhat highly coveted prospects in the Oakland organization. Since coming to the A’s, Familia has a 4-2 record, 3.56 ERA, and 30.1 innings pitched. With helping the back end of the bullpen and being the pre-anchor for closer Blake Treinen, the deal has received positive feedback and success from both on and off the field.
The Familia trade ended up being the start for the Athletics as they went into August catching fire and realizing they needed to shore up their bullpen and end of their rotation. With adding Shawn Kelley from the Nationals, Mike Fiers from the Tigers, Fernando Rodney from the Twins, and Cory Gearrin from the Rangers, the A’s were able to boast some veteran talent that can help lead their young team to a sight that has never been seen by most of them.
Despite the underrated and low key acquisitions made, the Athletics have become such a surprise simply due to being so young and not technically “ready to compete”. Well, these youngsters must not care about expectations and have decided to reach for the sky instead and they have done just that. The A’s seem to have an offensive juggernaut with lowly rated and not the most well known power hitter, Khris Davis and offseason acquisition Stephen Piscotty who has helped keep all the pieces intact throughout this searingly hot stretch that Oakland has produced.
When looking at the lineup, not one name truly stands out although names such as Davis, Lucroy, Piscotty, the veteran Jed Lowrie, and even the incredibly talented youngster, Matt Olson should all be recognized by at least a third of the MLB fan base. With Davis’ slugging ability, Piscotty’s leadership and knack of getting on base, and Lucroy’s command behind the plate, the Athletics boast one of the best offenses and defenses in the entire league not just the AL. Along with those three, Lowrie’s old dog status and consistency pairs almost perfectly with the constant aggression and determination to succeed from Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman.
After having this realization and facing the facts, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Oakland A’s are proud winners of 95+ games. Yes, no one expected it, but for the majority of people they probably weren’t ready for it either. The A’s, themselves probably weren’t all that ready for it either, but something during the spring felt right in the clubhouse and on the field. Once, the regular season came, the club just clicked and they have not lost that “clicking”.
The Oakland Athletics have become the “surprise team” of the 2018 season and it has been a blast to watch this team defy the odds put on them all year long. The A’s are young and hungry and extremely dangerous. Take a seat on the couch and pay attention to the Athletics, disappointment will not occur. Postseason baseball meet the 2018 Oakland Athletics; they won’t be forgotten.