By John Shea @real_johnshea on August 28, 2014
The Oakland A's recently took a backseat to the surging L.A. Angels in the AL West but boast the pitching depth and hitting prowess needed to reclaim the division lead and mount a deep postseason run. The A's lineup isn't flush with perennial .300 hitters, but it does feature a ton of home run power, enabling Oakland to score often. The A's ability to chalk crooked numbers complements their lights-out staff, making them World Series contenders.
The A's bullpen ranks as one of the best units in the AL, allowing a .221 batting average against while compiling a collective 2.88 ERA. Oakland's bullpen encountered early-season issues at the back end, but setup man-turned-closer Sean Doolittle has helped solidify ninth inning relief. Doolittle is currently on the DL with a strained oblique muscle, but the A's bullpen remains strong nonetheless.
GM Billy Beane prides himself in being able to consistently construct rosters that boast players capable of sustaining high on-base percentages. The 2014 season is no different. The A's rank 20th in overall team batting average (.250), but they own the fifth-best OBP in all of baseball (.325). Oakland's lineup features patient hitters who aren't afraid to take a walk. Their ability to consistently get on base will be big come October.
Oakland ranks as the fifth-most prolific home run hitting team in the major leagues, bashing 133 four-baggers through 132 games. The Athletics' leading power threat, Josh Donaldson, has recorded 25 long balls. Three other players, not including former A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, have also tallied double-digit home run totals. Oakland's ability to hit the long ball mitigates their relatively low team batting average.
The culmination of Oakland's ability to consistently get on base and also bash home runs has greatly contributed to them being the highest-scoring offensive team in baseball. The A's lead the big leagues with 634 total runs scored, averaging over 4.8 runs per game. Oakland strings together hits better than any other club in the game, constantly chalking up crooked numbers. Their high-powered offense will enable them to beat anybody in October.
Pitching undeniably wins championships. That fact is the primary reason why Beane pulled the trigger on Jon Lester at the trade deadline. It's also the reason why he struck a deal for Jeff Samardzija three weeks prior. The A's starting rotation is built for the postseason, featuring four dominant pitchers. The A's are gearing up for their first championship run since 1989. It would be monstrously disappointing if they fail to achieve that goal.
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