On Sunday, the Oakland Athletics clinched the American League West Division after the Texas Rangers lost to the Kansas City Royals in the 10th inning. The A’s would have secured the title even if the Rangers won since the Athletics crushed the Minnesota Twins in a 11-7 victory.
Now that the A’s are in the playoffs and #OAKtober will officially begin next week, what are the chances that the Athletics will actually win the World Series? I believe that chances are good. Very good.
First, the Athletics are likely to face the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. Even though the Tigers have dominated the American League Central and most other teams they have faced throughout 2013, the Athletics have a winning record against the Tigers this season with four wins out of seven games. Additionally, the A’s put up 42 runs while only giving up 40 against Detroit. Right now, the Athletics even have a better overall record at 94-63 while the Tigers are 91-66.
Even though these stats are not overly impressive in favor of the Athletics, there is a good chance that Oakland will have home field advantage for the first game of the postseason. The A’s are 49-28 at the O.co Coliseum and seem to thrive in the run down, often sewage-filled stadium that they share with the Oakland Raiders. The Athletics’ die hard fans will definitely help boost moral throughout what will be a tough series against Detroit.
Besides having a better record and homefield advantage against their potential opponent, the Athletics also have a lineup that surprises many with its constant success. There are the obvious players such as Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, and Yoenis Cespedes who will certainly hit, homer, and score during the postseason. But there are a few key players that are not as well known throughout the MLB who will ultimately be essential parts of the lineup and help propel the A’s to a World Series win.
The first is Daric Barton. Barton has been on a hot streak since being pulled up from Triple-A in late August. On Sunday, Barton went 3-for-3 with a double and a home run and, since his recall, Barton has been hitting .319. Additionally, his defensive skills at first base have always been above average and he has not committed an error yet this season. This perpetual underdog whose potential success always seemed to elude him is finally emerging from Triple-A with new tricks up his sleeve, which has been benefitting the Athletics greatly.
Next is catcher Kurt Suzuki who is known for his defensive skills at the plate. But his .993 fielding percentage is old news to the A’s. After rejoining his former team in late August, Suzuki has also shown he has some major batting skills. Since returning to Oakland, he has a .313 AVG and a .563 SLG. This is a higher average than he has had in any other season in the MLB. If he continues to be great at the plate – both batting and catching – he will significantly help for the Athletics going into the postseason.
Last is pitcher Sonny Gray, who is a solid starting pitcher for the Athletics. With some of the other A’s pitchers finding themselves in a rocky patch, Gray has been a great mid-season addition and will continue to help push the team through the postseason. With a 4-3 record, only four home runs have been hit against him and he has struck out 59 batters since coming up from Triple-A. His 2.90 ERA demonstrates his consistency on the mound and, he has definitely gained the respect of his new teammates this season.
Finally, the Athletics’ new found confidence will help them win against the tougher teams during the postseason. Last year, the A’s won the AL West miraculously on the last day of the season. Because of the unexpected win, they were not mentally prepared for the postseason. This year was different. The Athletics expected to win the AL West. Billy Beane had secretly stacked the lineup with hard hitters who were also great defensively. They gained confidence throughout the season as they continued to win games against usually better, big market teams. This season has shown the team that they are not just good, but that they are great.
The Oakland Athletics were able to clinched the AL West with a .596 win percentage which is currently the second best record in the league behind the Red Sox. The Athletics have already conquered the West, and now they are ready to conquer the MLB. This small market team is finally ready – both mentally and physically – to win a World Series.