Playoff Previews: Oakland Athletics

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

oakland

2013 Record: 96-66, First AL West

Offense: For the second consecutive season, the Oakland Athletics defied the disbelievers in capturing the American League Western division crown. With a payroll of just over $68.5 million, Oakland possesses the fifth lowest salary total in baseball (along with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, three of the five lowest payrolls are currently in the postseason). Offensively, Oakland has seen dramatic transformations in Josh Donaldson (.301-24-93), Jed Lowrie (.290-15-75), and Brandon Moss (.256-30-87). The latter was a member of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2011 before getting a shot with the Athletics last year. Oakland’s biggest flaw offense of Lee is their lack of postseason experience. Granted, many of the Athletics who took part in last year’s ALDS loss to Detroit return for part two this October. The A’s will need Yoenis Cespedes (.240-26-80) and Josh Reddick (.226-12-56) to recapture some of their former glory if they hope to outlast a tough Detroit pitching staff. Former Red Sox OF Coco Crisp enjoyed a career season this year (.261-22-66) and has the most playoff experience of any Athletic on the roster.

Rotation: The starting rotation in Oakland is young, ripe, and ready for playoff baseball. A.J. Griffin (14-10, 3.83), Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.97), Tommy Milone (12-9, 4.14), and Dan Straily (10-8, 3.96) are all 26 or younger heading into October. Add in the veteran of the staff, Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65), and the Athletics possess a very capable starting rotation. Postseason inexperience should not be a factor; as Griffin, Parker, and Milone all started playoff games for Oakland last season. Colon, of course, has many years of playoff experience with New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland.

Bullpen: The true strength of the Athletics in 2013 has been their bullpen. Devoid of big names, Oakland’s relief corps is headlined by former Rays’ right-hander Grant Balfour (1-3, 2.59, 38 SV). An All-Star this season, Balfour has been a steadying force during a career season for the 35-year old free agent to be. His support staff is even better. Sean Doolittle (5-5. 3.13), Ryan Cook (6-4, 2.54), and Jerry Blevins (5-0, 3.15) have provided a critical pathway between the starters and Oakland’s closer. As anyone knows, the bullpen is the most critical aspect of a successful postseason team. This is the major advantage that they have over the Detroit Tigers.

Coaching: Bob Melvin has done a phenomenal job in 2+ years with Oakland. After reaching the postseason in 2007 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Melvin was fired by Phoenix after in 82-80 2008 campaign and a 12-17 start to 2009. Billy Beane was certainly glad to find him halfway through 2011, as Melvin has led the Athletics to a 237-186 (.560) mark since. He has won Manager of the Year in both leagues (NL – 2007, AL – 2012) and will likely garner plenty of consideration this time around.

Outlook: Lose in ALDS, 2-3

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