The Oakland Athletics have clinched a playoff berth. They land in the October baseball bracket as one of two Wild Card teams representing the American League.
The A’s have one the most underrated teams in baseball, which is perhaps fitting considering they spend money on reliable players, not big-name players. After all, that’s the Moneyball way. Additionally, Oakland’s defense is one of the best in baseball.
At third base, the A’s have Matt Chapman, who has over three dozen homers and just under 100 runs batted in. While his batting average is below .250, he gets on base nearly 35 percent of the time. As Billy Beane would remind you, a walk (of which Chapman has nearly 75) is as good as a hit (of which Chapman has nearly 150). He’s slugging above .500 and has struck out less than 100 times. Defensively, Chapman has played over 1,300 innings at third base, a career-high. He also holds a career-high fielding percentage in the .980s, more than two dozen points higher than his previous best. He has made a career-low nine errors this year.
In the middle of the infield, Marcus Semien and Jurickson Profar share the duties. Semien’s batting average is just a few ticks shy of .300, while Profar’s is a couple above .200. Semien has 32 homers on the year while Profar has 20. Semien is chasing a full slate of games this season, a feat he has yet to accomplish in his career. He came close in 2018, but missed three games due to the birth of his child. Profar, meanwhile, has played in 130 games, including seven in left field and one at first base.
At first base is Matt Olson, who is batting .269 at the time of this writing with 89 RBI on 128 hits including 35 homers. He’s played in 125 games, making just eight errors while being involved in over 1,100 plays.
In the outfield is Robby Grossman, Ramón Laureano, and Stephen Piscotty. Grossman has a .240 average and .334 on-base percentage in 136 games. He’s been involved in 225 plays so far and has yet to make an error. Laureano, meanwhile, is batting just below .300 with an on-base percentage in the .410s. Now an everyday starter, he’s appeared in 121 games, hitting 23 homers. A gold glove candidate, Laureano has made just seven errors in 299 chances. He has also turned two double plays from the outfield thanks in part to his strong arm. Lastly, Piscotty, who returned from the injured list Thursday night, is batting right around .250 with a .312 OBP in 92 games. He has just over a dozen homers and 44 RBI. He has two assists and 167 putouts, a flawless 100% fielding percentage.
Behind the dish, Josh Phegley has made two errors in 741 chances. He has allowed just 14 passed balls. He has also gunned down one-third of would-be base-stealers. At the plate, Phegley is struggling, with just 75 hits in more than 300 at-bats. He does have a career-high 12 homers and 61 RBI.
Slugger Khris Davis has the designated hitter duties. While he has impressed, he has not quite met the expectations that people had for him after a huge 2018 season.
On the mound, starter Mike Fiers is 15-4 with an ERA in the threes after 32 starts. He will likely get the nod for the Wild Card game. Should the A’s win, Brett Anderson, Chris Bassitt, and Homer Bailey likely follow. Fifth-man Tanner Roark could move to the bullpen. The bullpen is led by AL Reliever of the Year candidate, Liam Hendriks, in the closer role.
Here’s a breakdown of the other players on Oakland’s squad. Note that several of them could be demoted when playoff rosters trim down from 40 to 25. Depth in the field includes Seth Brown, Chad Pinder, Skye Bolt, Mark Canha, Sheldon Neuse, Franklin Barreto, and catcher Sean Murphy.
Among those in the bullpen are Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino, Joakim Soria, Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, Ryan Buchter, A.J. Puk, Paul Blackburn, J.B. Wendelken, Daniel Mengden, Jesus Luzardo, and Blake Treinen.
Fortunately for the A’s, they do not have anyone on the injured list.
The Athletics will face potential elimination immediately against the Rays, but a win against Tampa Bay gives them some security as series lengths expand to five. If they defeat the Rays, the Athletics would move on to face the Houston Astros.
The Oakland Athletics begin a long road to the World Series now. It’s a toug feat, especially for the underdogs, but you can’t count the A’s out until they’re officially eliminated. The countdown is on: a trophy is 12 games away.