By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on June 25, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 27, 2014 by Jacob Kornhauser
With Derek Jeter retiring, Major League Baseball needs a new face for the sport. Twenty-three-year-old slugger Mike Trout fits the mold. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Andrew Lenz
Find out why experimenting with Josh Bell at first base will pay off big time for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Pete Schwichtenberg
The American League Central has been full of moves, but the Minnesota Twins moves have been quietly looked past. Here is why they have done things to put them back in contention in the Central. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Brad Faber
Here are five Detroit Tigers who need to stay healthy for the team to contend in 2015. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Owen Gabbey
The American League East will be extremely competitive. This means the possibility of the Yankees finishing in a very rare spot in the division. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Pete Schwichtenberg
Justin Verlander has not been the same over the past two seasons. If Detroit has any hopes of contending for a World Series title, he needs to be elite again. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Drew Jenkins
The St. Louis Cardinals could turn a good bullpen into a great one by signing Rafael Soriano or Francisco Rodriguez. Read More
The St. Louis Cardinals need to add some infield depth, and Everth Cabrera is an intriguing way for them to do that. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Justin Broyles
The Pittsburgh Pirates have several players they should offer a contract extension to, but Neil Walker is not one of them. Find out why here. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Andrew Lenz
As good as the Pittsburgh Pirates have been recently, these five players will see a regression this season. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Dan Marmaduke
The Chicago Cubs improved dramatically this offseason, but they won't contend for the NL Central crown in 2015. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Jacob Kornhauser
The Cubs have already added Jon Lester to their rotation, but if they want the best chance at a title over the next five years, they will trade for Cole Hamels as well. Read More