Why the Oakland A’s Are Dominating the AL West Right Now
Dominating bullpen and hitting, effective spending on pitching propels surprise team.
Oakland A’s Executive VP of Baseball Operations Billy Beane knows that his team doesn’t have the roster on paper of the “super teams” like the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros, but after Saturday his team has found a way to tie those Astros atop the AL West.
Now, it looks like the A’s are not content to back into a wildcard showdown with the Yankees, but are aiming to take the division.
And if he can’t compete with the payroll of their rivals, Beane will just have to continue to spend smarter.
“The way we look at it – and looked at it over the winter – is that there are the handful of super teams in our league like the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros and Indians, a whole bunch of teams that have no chance, and almost nobody in the middle, which is us, teams who have a chance but need to have things go right,” Beane told New York Daily News Bill Madden. “We’re finding there are a lot of wins in that middle space. This is kind of where we always are. We don’t have the revenues to compete with the big boys for free agents, etc., but we also don’t believe in five-year plans. We know how to do this. We try not to go into every season saying we’re going to lose. Tanking is not in our DNA.”
So he put together a pitching rotation out of other team’s scraps — including the surprisingly effective Trevor Cahill and Nationals castoff Edwin Jackson — to go along with 11-win lefty ace Sean Manaea, whom Beane acquired from the Royals for Ben Zobrist three years ago.
But the team is really built around its hitting and bullpen: The A’s rank eighth in the majors in runs and sixth in homers, powered by DH Khris Davis and rising star third baseman Matt Chapman. The A’s bullpen boasts baseball’s best ERA over the last two months and is a stunning 50-0 when leading after seven innings.
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