What is Going On in Oakland?!

Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17

Last night, KD delivered some of the most entertaining drama of the 2018 season to the Bay Area.

No, I’m not talking about the snake who decided to call out CJ McCollum on twitter yesterday. I’m talking about the Oakland Athletics outfielder Khris Davis. Last night, down 5-1 to the Rangers in the 7th inning, Davis single-handedly carried the squad to victory:

Big moments like these aren’t novel to Khris Davis. In fact, just the night before, his bat saved the day. The A’s were down 10-2 in the 7th inning, and then scored eight unanswered runs to send the game to extras. In need of a victory in order to keep up with the Wild Card race, Davis, again, delivered the ultimate blow:

The last two nights have capped off what has been an insane run in Oakland. If you date back to June 16th, the A’s were one game below .500 and 11.5 games back of the Astros in the AL West. Since then, they’ve had an MLB-best 26 victories, and now are 17 games above .500 and only 1.5 games back from the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot.

While the A’s run in the past few months has been impressive in itself, what’s more shocking is the way they’ve been winning. They’ve battled back from deficits in 17 out of their last 26 games, and Wednesday night’s victory over the Rangers marked the 13th time the 2018 A’s have been losing in the 7th inning, yet came back to win.

“I can’t describe how much chemistry is a big part of this team. We’re having as much fun as we can. We’re joking. We’re loose. Even if we’re down, we’re still loose. I think that’s kind of the reason we’ve been coming back, is because we’re still having fun.” -Khris Davis

The A’s success proves that baseball is much more than having great individual players. The team’s best hitter is second baseman Jed Lowrie, a career .263 hitter who is hitting .282 on the year. After that, no everyday player is hitting above .265. While the team doesn’t have many great hitters, they rely on situational hitting, getting guys on base, and the home run ball (3rd most home runs in MLB) in order to manufacture runs.

Furthermore, while the A’s lack high profile starters, the team is bolstered by the back of their bullpen. They own two lights out relievers, Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino, who both have sub 1.50 ERA’s on the year; and, they recently acquired former Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who’s been dominant in the few innings he’s pitched this year.

The A’s really don’t have much talent, yet they’re somehow finding ways to grind out victories. More importantly, they are adding much needed drama to a top heavy American League. At this point in the season, it’s basically a foregone conclusion that the Indians, Astros, Yankees and Red Sox are the only ones that have a chance at winning the American League pennant. Unsurprisingly, those teams are in the top half of the MLB in terms of payroll. And then there’s the Athletics, who are always at the bottom of the payroll (currently 3rd lowest). The A’s are a true underdog in a league dominated by big-market franchises. However, they don’t seem to care about the money; all they care about is winning.

After Moneyball, the A’s and their unorthodox methods of success were finally put on the map. That run ended with little success, as the A’s never ended up making it past the ALDS. Luckily, in 2018, baseball fans are gifted another opportunity of witnessing the small-market team from Oakland try and pull off a miracle.

-Ezra

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