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Why Trading Yunel Escobar Was the Oakland Athletics’ Best Move of the Offseason

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has had the busiest offseason of any GM, making nine trades involving 27 players in total. His most recent deal, swapping shortstop Yunel Escobar for Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, was his best one of the winter.

Beane acquired Escobar and utility man Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso and prospects Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell on January 10.

The Athletics needed someone to fill in at short after allowing Jed Lowrie to walk, and they got their man from Tampa Bay. But it was Zobrist, not Escobar, as he was flipped to the Nationals for Clippard four days later.

Shortstop is arguably the weakest offensive position in the league, and Escobar has long enjoyed a reputation as an above-average hitter. His best season came with the Atlanta Braves in 2009, when he hit .299/.377/.436.

The problem is, he hasn’t hit at such a high level since 2011. His OPS has fallen under .700 in each of the last three seasons, and he’s only hit double-digit home runs in three of his eight major league seasons.

Middle infielders don’t often carry a lot of power, so Escobar‘s waning power isn’t a deal-breaker on its own. But his 31 career stolen bases are surprisingly low for such a tenured shortstop, and if he’s not a threat in the batter’s box or on the basepaths, where is he a threat?

The answer: he’s a threat in the field—for his own team.

Defensive regression is natural for an aging shortstop, and Escobar is 32. Many players’ arm strength and/or agility starts disappearing around then.

Escobar was actually a good defensive player as recently as 2013, when he posted a 10.7 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), more than double his previous career high and third in the majors among everyday shortstops, per Fangraphs. For comparison, Lowrie had a -6.7 UZR that season, third-worst in the majors for his position.

But Escobar‘s UZR shot down to an abysmal -17.0 in 2014, worst among starting shortstops by a wide margin. His range has all but disappeared, and the Nationals are expected to play him at second base, as the A’s would have.

In fact, Escobar‘s UZR over 150 games (UZR/150) in 2014 was the worst by a shortstop since Fangraphs began keeping track of the stat (h/t Athletics Nation’s Jeremy F. Koo).

Escobar never wanted to play for the A’s, and he would have been a horrible fit in Oakland. The A’s weren’t going to win over Bay Area fans by employing a middle infielder who once wrote an anti-gay slur into his eye black.

After the A’s claimed Escobar on waivers last August, his agent, Alex Esteban, told CBS’ Jon Heyman he was “very concerned” with Oakland’s selection. Tampa Bay pulled Escobar back from waivers after Esteban continued to drop hints about Escobar‘s aversion for suiting up in Oakland.

Clippard, on the other hand, shows no signs of fitting in poorly for the A’s. The Washington Post‘s James Wagner called himan earnest, thoughtful and funny teammate, who was always accountable—good or bad—for his performances and the teams’s performance.”

He has been named to two All-Star Games despite functioning as a set-up man—not a closer—for most of his career. With a 2.68 ERA in just over six years with the Nationals, he’s been one of the most consistent relief options in baseball throughout his career.

Clippard was the Nats closer in 2012 and has the stuff to end for the A’s—which he may be expected to do after Sean Doolittle’s slight rotator cuff tear.

 Oakland acquired a similarly steady relief arm last season in Luke Gregerson, who turned in a 2.12 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his one season with the A’s. Clippard is more of a power arm than Gregerson, but he should be just as good in an eighth-inning set-up role once Doolittle returns.

The A’s are flush with back-of-the-rotation starters, some of whom may turn into bullpen guys. They don’t actually have too many true right-handed relievers like Clippard, though, so he and Ryan Cook will be counted on as dependable late-inning arms.

Fans have bemoaned Beane‘s trading of five of the A’s seven 2014 All-Stars, but Clippard appeared in last year’s Midsummer Classic for the National League team. Oakland flipped an old, defenseless middle infielder with little pop for a shutdown bullpen arm.


Trade information courtesy of Athletics Nation. Statistics courtesy of, unless noted otherwise.

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Oakland Athletics: Which Catcher Is Most Valuable?

Much of the Oakland Athletics‘ success this season has stemmed from manager Bob Melvin’s implementation of platoons in the field. Quality players like catchers John Jaso and Derek Norris split time based on the opposing pitcher’s throwing arm.

Jaso would hit against righties, Norris would hit against lefties, and everyone’s knees stayed well-rested. That worked until Stephen Vogt was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and proceeded to mash the stitches off the ball, forcing Melvin to keep him in the lineup, though often away from his natural position.

An overflow of talent is certainly not a bad thing, especially considering the physical demands that tax everyday catchers and can diminish their offensive production. But there are only so many innings to share among Vogt‘s hot bat, Jaso‘s Moneyball skill set and Norris’ impressive all-around game.


John Jaso

94 G, 295 AB, 41 R, 8 HR, 38 RBI, .264 BA/.340 OBP/.424 SLG

When the baseball gods craft a low-budget No. 2 hitter in the future, they can use Jaso as the prototype. Blessed with a keen hitter’s eye, solid gap power and above-average baserunning skills, Jaso is general manager Billy Beane’s kind of player.

Jaso missed half of last season with lingering effects from a concussion on July 24, 2013, and his 34 games as the A’s designated hitter this year are more than any other player on the roster. His offensive numbers are good for a catcher but seem average when compared to other DHs.

Oddly enough, Jaso hits much better when playing catcher than DH-ing despite the extra workload associated with playing in the field. He’s batting .296 as a catcher and .226 as a DH since he began splitting time between the positions in 2012.

DH-ing Norris or Vogt would make sense if Jaso were a better defensive catcher, but his limited skills behind the plate argue otherwise. He’s thrown out just four of 35 potential base stealers this year and has cost the A’s four more runs defensively than a league-average catcher, according to FanGraphs. In fact, Jaso‘s fielding and positional adjustment combined value ranks dead last among catchers with 160 plate appearances or more in 2014.


Derek Norris

92 G, 269 AB, 35 R, 10 HR, 47 RBI, .286 BA/.379 OBP/.457 SLG

There’s a reason Norris caught A’s closer Sean Doolittle in the 2014 All-Star game. He has elevated his game to become one of the league’s best receivers this year despite splitting time behind the plate.

After a rough offensive start to his career, Norris has blossomed in his third season with Oakland. His .834 OPS is the best on the team among players with at least 200 at bats, and he has stepped in as the cleanup hitter against left-handed pitchers after Yoenis Cespedes was traded.

Some of the success for Norris’ career-best slash line can be traced to his diminishing strikeout percentage, which has tumbled from 28.4 percent in 2012 to 17.9 percent in 2014.

Like Jaso, Norris doesn’t throw out many guys on the bases (seven of 47 runners this year). But his offense is good enough to earn a cumulative 2.6 WAR, third among American League catchers.

Norris came over as a prospect in the Gio Gonzalez trade back in 2011 alongside pitchers Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and A.J. Cole. Coincidentally, Cole was later traded back to the Washington Nationals in the deal that brought Jaso to the A’s.


Stephen Vogt

57 G, 194 AB, 21 R, 7 HR, 29 RBI, .325 BA/.356 OBP/.495 SLG

Calling Vogt a catcher is getting to be a bit of a stretch, since he has mainly played first base and right field after being called up at the beginning of June. That’s a testament to his versatility and the established veterans already behind the plate, not a reflection of Vogt‘s defensive skills.

Though he has logged just 85.1 innings behind the plate this year, Vogt has thrown out just one fewer baserunner than Jaso on the year, with no stolen bases against him so far. Vogt also threw out 31 percent of base stealers in a more permanent role behind the plate in 2013.

Vogt was one of the hottest hitters in the majors for about 40 games after being called up, peaking with a .376/.407/.564 line on July 11. He’s regressed somewhat since his out-of-this-world start, but his 1.7 WAR is higher than Jaso‘s despite having spent two months in the minors.

The one drawback to Vogt‘s offensive production, other than being a typical slow-footed catcher, is he doesn’t work pitchers like many other Athletics, including Norris and Jaso. His batting average is on par with hitters like Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre (again, in a small sample size), but his on-base percentage is more along the lines of Christian Yelich and Denard Span.



The current platoon is working out well for the A’s, so there’s no reason to bat Norris more against right-handers or Jaso and Vogt against southpaws. All three have harsh righty-lefty splits and are best suited in their current roles.

Norris has emerged as a legitimate star this year, while Jaso is a solid role player but just that. Vogt is probably most valuable as a utility bat who can slide behind the plate as a late-game defensive replacement.


All advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

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What the Oakland Athletics Need to Do to Win the AL Pennant

The Oakland Athletics have had the American League‘s best record for virtually the entire season, but any A’s fan knows in-season success doesn’t guarantee playoff wins. Winning in October takes a deep roster, a couple of top-level players and a whole lot of luck.

After consecutive Game 5 losses to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series, the A’s have gone all-in to win this year, trading for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel.

Building a starting rotation of four aces didn’t come cheap, as general manager Billy Beane dealt top prospect Addison Russell and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. To deliver on Beane’s gambles and win the pennant for the first time since 1990, the A’s need to continue their overall dominance, get past the one team they can’t beat and hope for success in the few games that matter most.


Big Bats Must Stay Hot

The A’s have one of the league’s top offenses even without Cespedes, but some of the heavy hitters can be streaky. With a maximum of five games in the ALDS and seven in the ALCS, postseason success is entirely dependent on who gets hot at the right time.

Much of the responsibility will fall on third baseman Josh Donaldson, who hit a dismal .181/.223/.286 in June. With Cespedes out of the lineup, Oakland needs Donaldson to post something more like the .318/.426/.614 line he’s had since the All-Star break.

Right fielder Josh Reddick has been riddled with injuries since his breakout 2012 campaign, but he has two home runs and four doubles in nine games since coming off of the disabled list. If Reddick can permanently regain his 2012 form, he would be a quality replacement for Cespedes in the middle of the order.


Beat the Tigers

The A’s and the Tigers engaged in a beautiful arms race this summer, each team striving to push ahead as the best team in the AL. Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski countered Beane’s moves by trading for Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price, giving the Tigers three former Cy Young winners in the rotation.

The Tigers’ dominance over the A’s extends to the regular season as well. Oakland has done well against other contenders like the Angels (6-3) and the Baltimore Orioles (4-2) this year, but is 2-5 against Detroit.

At some point or another, the A’s are likely to run into the Tigers in the playoffs. In a series of Jon Lester vs. Max Scherzer, Jeff Samardzija vs. David Price, Scott Kazmir vs. Anibal Sanchez and Sonny Gray vs. Justin Verlander, the A’s might finally have the upper hand on pitching.

Pitching dominance will be key in getting past sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez and Torii Hunter. The road to the World Series will run through Motor City this year.


Keep on Keepin’ On

To misquote Bill Hader’s “Stefon” character from Saturday Night Live: This team has everything. Hitting, pitching, defense, a scruffy man slamming the door in the ninth inning and Halftain America (it’s that thing where Captain America plays against left-handing pitching).

With the exception of second base, the A’s roster has no real holes. The offense has scored more runs than any other team in baseball, while the pitchers are holding opponents to a .232 batting average. The result is a plus-162-run differential, nearly double the Angels’ second-best plus-90-run differential.

This is the most complete team in the majors, and seven All-Stars give the A’s the kind of star power they lacked in the past. Beane’s constant tinkering and smart pickups have put the A’s in the driver’s seat. It won’t be easy, but the American Leagueand the World Series, for that matteris Oakland’s to lose.

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Oakland Athletics: Pros and Cons of Re-Signing Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour has been a force at the back of the Oakland Athletics‘ bullpen for the last three years, but could be on his way out now that his contract has expired.

After the A’s second straight trip to the American League Division Series in 2013, writer Jane Lee said the team wants to maintain its solid core.

Retaining Balfour would help the A’s return to the playoffs, but he comes with a lot of baggage. A’s general manager Billy Beane needs to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of bringing backs his closer.




He Locks Down the Ninth Inning

Balfour served as a set-up man for the Tampa Bay Rays and worked the eighth inning in front of Andrew Bailey in his first year with the A’s.

Once Bailey was traded in the Josh Reddick steal of a deal, Balfour took over as the team’s closer and proceeded to slam the door for the next two years, averaging a 2.56 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

The veteran reeled off 44 consecutive saves, breaking Dennis Eckersley’s club record, and earned his first All-Star nod in 2013.


He’s a Great Fit in Oakland

On a team full of young stars like Josh Donaldson and Sonny Gray, Balfour and fellow free agent Bartolo Colon are two of the only vets.

Pitching talents aside, Colon’s mild-mannered demeanor is far more replaceable than Balfour’s fiery rage. If Balfour leaves, the silence and stillness from the right field bleachers will be deafening.

Balfour has flashed his competitive spirit twice in the playoffs, getting into it with Orlando Cabrera in 2008 and Victor Martinez last year before retiring both hitters. It never hurts to have an enforcer at the end of a close game.




He’s Old

Balfour may be relatively new to closing, but he has spent plenty of time in the majors. He broke in with the Minnesota Twins back in 2001, and will turn 36 this winter.

That’s awfully old for a pitcher, especially one with a history of forearm, shoulder, knee and elbow injuries. While Balfour has moved on from his Tommy John surgery from 2005 and torn rotator cuff and labrum from 2006, the A’s have reason to be concerned as he ages.


He Broke Down Late in the Season

Balfour put together a legitimate case as the American League’s best closer in the first half of the season. Come August and September, things were a little different.

He couldn’t throw strikes, and when he did, they were hard-hit mistake pitches. Balfour had a 1.76 ERA on August 26, but closed out the year by giving up eight earned runs in 11.2 innings.

Every late-season save situation seemed to end with Balfour saying he was gassed, running on fumes or some other declaration of being burnt out. Sure, he’ll have the offseason to recover, but the A’s will have to watch his workload if he returns.


He’s Replaceable for a Lesser Price

Billy Beane pioneered the art of trading the closer, pulling in lucrative packages for Billy Taylor, Andrew Bailey and Billy Koch. While Balfour’s free agency makes him untradeable, Beane‘s track record shows how little faith he has in long-term closers.

Balfour is due for a big payday after raking in $4.5 million last year. As always, the A’s will need to be financially conservative and might not meet Balfour’s salary demands.

So who would replace Balfour? Set-up man Ryan Cook is the obvious answer, though Beane could also look for outside help like the Rays’ Jesse Crain.

Balfour has been very good for the A’s over the past three years, but it’s time to cut ties. Re-signing him would be a sizable investment, one Oakland cannot afford to make.

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Examining the Oakland Athletics’ September Call-Ups

When major league rosters expanded on September 1, the Oakland Athletics promoted a handful of players to compete for first place against the Texas Rangers.

While cellar-dwelling teams are warming their prospects up for future big league opportunities, the A’s called up four players who will contribute in the playoff run.

Outfielder Michael Choice, infielder Andy Parrino, utility man Jemile Weeks and relief pitcher Pedro Figueroa were all promoted from the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats with specific roles in mind.


Michael Choice

Sonny Gray has reached the majors. Addison Russell is playing for the River Cats at the age of 19. And Choice, the organization’s third phenom, is on his way to breaking into the crowded Athletics outfield.

Choice rose through the minors after being taken with the A’s first pick in the 2010 draft. The outfield mashed 30 home runs at High-A Stockton in 2011, impressing baseball insiders like Peter Gammons.

After emerging as a middle-of-the-order threat for the River Cats, Choice was rumored to be the headliner in a deadline deal for Jake Peavy, per the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Susan Slusser.

The A’s refused to part with Choice, and he rewarded them with a .303/.390/.445 line before being called up. He started two key games against the Rangers last week, collecting his first major league hit off of Martin Perez.

Though Choice came up as a center fielder, he switched off with Shane Peterson between all outfield positions in Sacramento and has played in right field and designated hitter since coming to Oakland.

Minor league scouts, who judge players on a scale from 2-8, gave Choice’s speed a 5, his glove a 5 and his arm a 4. With good-not-great defensive tools, he seems destined for a corner outfield spot.


Andy Parrino

Parrino became Oakland’s backup second baseman after Scott Sizemore tore his ACL early in the year but was demoted after recording three hits in 10 games.

The A’s will use Parrino largely as a defensive replacement, since he has played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field. He made no errors in 140.2 major league innings with San Diego in 2011.

His versatility is an asset, but Parrino‘s .210/.300/.302 line in Sacramento suggests that the switch-hitter will be the last bat off the bench.


Jemile Weeks

Flash back to 2011 when Weeks tore up the basepaths as a rookie. He hit .303 with eight triples and 22 steals in 97 games.

But like his brother Rickie, Weeks proved to be more hype than performance. He crashed back down to earth with a .221 batting average in 2012 before being demoted in August.

Weeks struggled defensively in Oakland and moved to center field after his demotion to capitalize on his wheels. With Chris Young, Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes all capable of playing center, Weeks probably won’t get many innings in the A’s outfield.

He is also unlikely to crack second base, since the A’s brought in Alberto Callaspo and have Eric Sogard on the bench. Weeks also played 23 games at shortstop for Sacramento, but Sogard and Jed Lowrie are blocking his path.

The “Jemile High Club” will likely see their man as a pinch runner in late innings, where he can motor around the bases in a throwback uniform.


Pedro Figueroa

P-Figs is armed with a nasty 95-mph sinker, as well as a low-90s four-seamer and a high-80s slider. All 12 pitches he threw in his first game on September 3 were sinkers.

In 19 games as a reliever for the A’s last season, Figueroa compiled a 3.32 ERA and held hitters a .216 batting average.

To stick in the majors, Figueroa needs to improve his control. He allowed 6.23 BB/9 last season and had a 1.43 WHIP despite his low BAA.

The A’s already have Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins for late innings, and Brett Anderson has been a long reliever since returning from a broken foot. Figueroa should be nothing more than the last mop-up man out of the ‘pen.

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Breaking Down the Oakland Athletics’ September Series

After winning Wednesday’s series finale against the Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics are in spitting distance of first place in the American League West with a favorable September schedule ahead.

Breakout seasons from Jarrod Parker, Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie have helped the A’s repeat as surprise contenders.

As ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said, September is the best time for baseball. A’s fans can look forward to the home stretch, where 20 of the 22 remaining games are against teams with losing records.


Houston Astros

The A’s go from battling the AL West’s best to the sorry Lastros, who will spend September 5-8 fighting at O.Co Coliseum.

Third baseman Brett Wallace, first baseman Chris Carter and catcher Max Stassi all played for the A’s minor league affiliates. Carter leads the Astros with 27 home runs, but sports an ugly .217 batting average.

Thursday night’s game featured Sonny Gray against another former Athletics farmhand, Brad Peacock. Peacock has struggled to a 5.62 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, but didn’t allow a run until the eighth inning in Houston’s 3-2 win.

The A’s face rookie Brett Oberholtzer on Saturday, who is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his first six starts. Oberholtzer outdueled Hisashi Iwakuma last week, and will be the A’s toughest test over the weekend.

At 47-93, the Astros are the only MLB team without 50 wins this season. Oakland is 12-5 against the ‘Stros, and will be looking for an easy series win.


Minnesota Twins

The A’s hit the road for Minneapolis after the Houston series, then host the Twins from September 19-22.

While the Twins are well under .500 and recently lost Justin Morneau, the roster has some talent. Second baseman Brian Dozier has 17 home runs, while Glen Perkins has 32 saves in 36 chances.

Problem is, Perkins is essentially useless if Minnesota’s starting pitchers get shelled early in the game. Recent call-up Andrew Albers is the only starter with an ERA under 4.00. 

The Twins have won four of their last six games, two of which were against the Rangers. The A’s can’t afford to underestimate their opponents, especially if Joe Mauer returns soon.


Texas Rangers

The rival Rangers are the A’s only remaining opponent with a winning record. As both teams attempt to avoid the unpredictability of a wild-card spot, the September 13-15 series could have a major impact.

Texas is 9-7 against the A’s this season, but Oakland took two of three in the last series. If players like Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp and Daric Barton stay hot, the A’s will crush the ball all over Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The A’s pounded a combined six home runs in the first and last games of the recent series, but managed just one run against Martin Perez in Game 2. 

The Rangers precede the series with three games against the Pittsburgh Pirates, then move onto the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals after the A’s leave town.

Facing four contenders in a row could drop the Rangers deep into second place, and the A’s have a chance to bury them in the Texas dirt. A sweep could give the A’s a firm hold on the division.


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Diehard A’s fans remember going into the last series of the 2004 season tied with the Angels for first place, only to watch in horror as Anaheim took the first two games thanks in part to a fella named Bartolo Colon.

The A’s and Angels don’t hate one another like the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, but as SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee said, the “other” California rivalry is picking up steam.

Oakland hosts the Angels from September 16-18. After a three-game series against the Twins, the A’s head south for a rematch in Anaheim.

The Angels have offensive stars like Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick, but the A’s pitching and depth has been better over the last two years. Oakland went 10-9 against the Halos in 2012 and is 8-2 this season.


Seattle Mariners

The A’s went 12-7 against Seattle in 2012, including a 7-0 run to end the season. The dominance hasn’t carried over to this season, as Oakland has lost every series after the opening four-game split.

The two teams face off again in the final days of the season, when the A’s are likely to be fighting for the division.

Relievers Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour need to iron out their kinks before playing the Mariners. The A’s don’t want to give up another walk-off like the highlight on the right.

If the Mariners’ current rotation holds up, Felix Hernandez will start the first game against Dan Straily. The game’s 7:05 PM start time is bad news for Straily, who has a 2.63 ERA during day games and a 5.21 mark at night, 

Oakland aces Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Parker will finish the year against Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker. Both Mariners starters are inexperienced, but Walker is considered the No. 5 prospect in baseball and Ramirez has a 2.81 ERA in his last four games.

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Ranking the Oakland Athletics’ Top Pitching Prospects

Blue, Hunter and Fingers. Hudson, Mulder and Zito. Gonzalez, Cahill and Bailey. Parker, Griffin and Straily. Who’s next?

The Oakland Athletics are known for bringing pitchers up through the minor leagues, and they have a group of future stars waiting for the next promotion.

Prospects were analyzed based on their potential and performance, in that order. Pitchers who already have a shot in the bigs, like phenom Sonny Gray or veteran Hideki Okajima, are ineligible for consideration.


All advanced stats from FanGraphs.


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Ranking the San Francisco Giants’ Top Outfield Prospects

The San Francisco Giants‘ minor league system is teeming with young outfielders, all of whom have the potential to play for the big leagues one day.

As B/R featured columnist J.J. Schoch wrote, the Giants’ current outfield is one of the worst in baseball. Hope lies in the minor league system, with five players who could contribute down the road.

Since this list looks toward the future instead of focusing on the present, players with Major League service like Francisco Peguero, Roger Kieschnick and Juan Perez will not be considered prospects.

The Giants always need more bats, so guys who can contribute offensively rank higher than defense-first players.

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Oakland Athletics’ Ultimate ‘Moneyball’ Team

When Michael Lewis’ best-selling book “Moneyball” hit the market in 2003, baseball was changed forever. Lewis chronicled the inner workings of the Oakland Athletics, the team that somehow managed to turn bands of rejects into playoff contenders.

Since joining the A’s in 1998, general manager Billy Beane has sent the team to playoffs six times despite continually having one of the league’s lowest payrolls. 

A “Moneyball” player is someone with perceived flaws or a questionable background who joined the A’s on a small contract, but contributed in a big way. Players’ success is measured on the qualities Beane and his staff found important, like not chasing pitches, getting on base and generating runs.


All advanced statistics taken from FanGraphs.

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5 Reasons Why the Oakland Athletics Will Win the American League West

Bad breaks, thin pocketbook and recent sloppy play aside, the Oakland Athletics are still the best team in the American League West. If a couple key players perform well in September, the Athletics should repeat as division champions.

Mid-August finds the A’s 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers, with the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Houston Astros trailing off in the distance.

The revised wild-card format means second place is no longer good enough, as the Rangers found last season. A winning season can go down the drain with one playoff loss.



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