Their magic number is now three… Their resilience can not be denied… There is something special going on in Oakland…
The Oakland Athletics have been putting together an amazing 2018 campaign to say the least. With the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros in the same division, the A’s do their best, year-in and year-out to compete. General Manager Billy Beane has a keen eye for young talent and that has paid off this year as they stand 32 games over .500. A team such as the A’s needs an influx of young talent as well as veteran players in the clubhouse. Just a year ago, the Athletics traded then-ace, at the time, Sonny Gray to the New York Yankees but Oakland did not miss a beat. If everything plays out as planned, Oakland and New York will be facing off in the one-game Wild Card matchup in October.
Despite trading away Gray, the A’s starting pitching has been solid all year with help from their outstanding bullpen and offense. Ace Sean Manaea led this rotation all year long with a 12-9 record and a 3.57 earned run average along with a no-hitter back in April which enabled Manaea to become the A’s star pitcher. Also, starter Edwin Jackson has turned his career around this season with a 3.18 earned run average and a 6-3 record in 16 starts, at 35 years old. With solid performances from starters Brett Anderson and Daniel Mengden along side waiver acquisition Mike Fiers, the Oakland A’s have thrived without Manaea or Kendall Graveman, who are both gone for the rest of the season due to injury.
Offensively, the Athletics are one of the more power-driven offenses in the Majors. Most Valuable Player candidate outfielder Khris Davis has been slugging his way to a career year, blasting his 45th home run last night to cap a 7-6 walk-off against the Minnesota Twins. He leads the MLB in home runs as well as runs batted in. Third baseman Matt Chapman leads the team with a .282 batting average and a .359 on base percentage, a part of the game that Billy Beane values so deeply. In addition, Chapman ranks first in defensive wins above replacement along with leading the American League in assists, making him a worthy recipient of the Gold Glove award. Acquired last winter, Stephen Piscotty has provided 26 long balls where he has been a perfect fit out in the Bay Area as he is one of five A’s hitters to have 20 or more home runs.
Along with their power offense, their bullpen has been phenomenal in 2018 to say the least. Closer Blake Treinen possesses a sizzling 0.83 earned run average, being almost untouchable in 64 appearances with 37 saves and an 8-2 record. Also, the Athletics acquired reliever Shawn Kelley from the Washington Nationals, posting a 2.57 ERA, striking out 14 batters in 16 appearances. Beane pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Mets to acquire former All-Star closer Jeurys Familia, who has a 3.45 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 27 appearances. With a bullpen such as this, Oakland can afford to have their starter only pitch four or five innings, which is a recipe for success in October.
Just think of this… The New York Yankees are looking to face the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card Round in October. These two teams could not have a bigger difference in payroll. The A’s payroll is just under $90 million while the Yankees’ payroll is just about $222 million (which equals 2.5 times more than the A’s payroll). And better yet, only a game and a half separate the two teams here in late September. The Oakland Athletics are doing something special this season, but Billy Beane still wants his team to win that last game of the season and take home the first World Series title in 30 years.