With the best record in Major League Baseball and their sites set on their third straight AL West championship, the Oakland A’s are now making money ball look easy.
Make no mistake though, money ball is not an easy thing to pull off. The A’s front office, led by General Manager Billy Beane have made all the right moves to keep the team at the the top of the division, even while ranking only ahead of the Houston Astro’s in payroll within the AL West.
Despite not being able to re-sign Bartolo Colon, who was the club’s most consistent and reliable starter in 2013, Beane was able to sign veteran Scott Kazmir, who was not only cheaper but has done everything to fill the void left by Colon. Kazmir leads the team with 9 wins and a 2.66 ERA.
While money ball will get its fair share of praise for the A’s success and deservedly so, money ball is just another method without the players performing and they are doing just that.
With a dominant pitching staff and one of the leagues best offenses the A’s are the most well-rounded team in the majors.
First is the A’s offense. The club ranks first in runs scored with 414 and they have outscored their opponents by 134 runs, which is the largest run differential in the league, by far.
The three headed monster of Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes are the key contributors to the league’s most formidable offense. Donaldson, Moss and Cespedes each have no less than 50 RBI’s and combined they are responsible for nearly half the team’s runs scored with 167.
The trio is doing their damage with the long ball as Donaldson and Moss have both tallied 18 long balls. Cespedes rounds out the group with 14.
Not to be forgotten is the A’s bench, where each player has embraced their role, no matter how big or small. The club’s .264 batting average and .410 on-base percentage in pinch-hit at-bats ranks number one among clubs with at least 45 attempts.
To go along with major’s most potent and clutch offenses the A’s pitching staff is among the best in the bigs, if not the best. The staff’s 3.18 ERA ranks second in the majors and their 1.17 WHIP is the league’s best.
In addition to the success of the aforementioned Kazmir, Sonny Gray has been great. Gray leads the team in both innings pitched and strikeouts.
A pitching staff is only as good as its bullpen and after overcoming a rough start to the season, the A’s bullpen has developed into one of the league’s best. A major reason for the bullpen’s turnaround is Sean Doolittle, who has settled into his role as the closer. Despite having his 25 1/3-inning scoreless streak snapped by the Marlins, Doolittle still has a ridiculous 56:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
To attribute the success of the A’s to money ball alone is a mistake because money ball doesn’t hit home-runs or throw complete game shut-outs. The time has come to realize the Oakland A’s aren’t the underdog, exceeding expectations because of money ball. They are flat out good and here to stay, regardless of the the team’s payroll.