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MLB Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics: 5 Things We’ve Learned Halfway Through 2014

Oakland Athletics: 5 Things We've Learned Midway Through 2014

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At 47-30, the Oakland Athletics currently have the best record in the major leagues. Oakland hasn't done it the conventional way, getting contributions from some of the unlikeliest sources. Although their payroll continues to remain in the bottom third of the league, the A's always manage to find ways to stay competitive, which is a testament to their organizational model. Here are the five things we've learned about them thus far.

5. The Bullpen is One of the Best in the League

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5. The Bullpen is One of the Best in the League

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Although Ryan Cook (4.58 ERA) and Jim Johnson (5.51) have had their struggles, the rest of the bullpen contains five relievers with ERAs under 2.33. Fernando Abad, Dan Otero, Luke Gregerson, Fernando Rodriguez and closer Sean Doolittle have baffled hitters all season, and have basically ended games after the sixth inning. Perhaps an even more surreal stat is that of the five, Otero has the highest WHIP at a scintillating 1.04.

4. Billy Beane Knows What He's Doing

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4. Billy Beane Knows What He's Doing

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Every year, Oakland GM Billy Beane wheels and deals and, in some cases, the players he's brought in aren't looked at as stars. However, Beane usually gets the last laugh as he usually turns these signings into value deals for Oakland. No one player is more indicative of that this season than Jesse Chavez, the journeyman reliever who Oakland stuck in the starting rotation and responded with a 2.71 ERA in 15 starts.

3. Scott Kazmir Was One of the Best Free Agent Signings of the Offseason

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3. Scott Kazmir Was One of the Best Free Agent Signings of the Offseason

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When the Athletics signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal this offseason, it was met with some doubt by baseball critics. Kazmir, once a highly-touted lefty, had been sputtering along until suddenly finding himself last season with the Cleveland Indians. Kazmir has not only reclaimed his one-time dominance, but he's pitching the best baseball of his career.

2. Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss are Two of the Most Underrated Players in Baseball

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2. Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss are Two of the Most Underrated Players in Baseball

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Last season, Oakland's offense was carried by two rather unlikely sources, Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss. Donaldson was a fairly regular prospect and Moss was picked up on a minor league deal, yet both have blossomed into some of the most feared hitters in the league. Donaldson (18 HRs) and Moss (17 HRs) don't get as much publicity playing in Oakland, but they've been two of the best hitters in the game for a few seasons now.

1. The Athletics Are the Best Team in Baseball

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1. The Athletics Are the Best Team in Baseball

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While the Athletics are always a good bet to contend, perhaps no one saw them as being the buzzsaw they've been thus far. The 47-30 start is the second-best in franchise history and has people thinking about the World Series for the first time since 1990. The As will have to keep up their hot play in the dog days of summer, but if this start is any indication, they should be one of the last teams standing this season.