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article imageOp-Ed: Which MLB team is poised to go deep in the post-season?

By Mike Rossi     Sep 11, 2014 in Sports
Oakland - It's been an interesting year in baseball.
I'll start with that.
No one team has been dominant over the course of the entire season.
Back in April and May, the San Francisco Giants were the best team in baseball. Now they’ll be content with a wildcard spot.
During June and July, no team had more buzz – or wins – than the Oakland A’s, but August ended up being a complete disaster and the Athletics now sit almost nine games behind the Los Angeles Angles in the AL West.
The Tigers added All-Star pitcher David Price to their staff before the trade deadline but have been unable to pull away in AL Central, sitting in a virtual tie for first place with the Kansas City Royals.
Sure, the Angels, Nationals and the Orioles are red-hot right now, but given the way this season has gone that could change in the blink of an eye.
So which team is best positioned to make a deep push into the playoffs?
If I’m being honest?
None of them.
No team has been consistently dominant over the course of the year. Each team has shown real vulnerability – whether on offense or defense – at some stage, making this year’s playoff race more of a crapshoot than it’s been in recent memory.
But I was asked to pick a team and, in the interest of being a good sport, a team I shall pick!
…Drum roll, please…
The Oakland Athletics.
Assuming of course they actually MAKE the playoffs.
Why the A’s? Glad you asked.
Despite their recent struggles – Oakland has been downright woeful as of late – the A’s have what amounts to the best pitching staff in baseball coupled with the best pitchers park in baseball and I believe in the old standby:
Runs win games but pitching wins championships.
O.Co is a dump of a stadium, but given the depth of the outfield walls, the sizeable portion of playable foul territory and the moisture-heavy night air of the Bay Area, it’s a very difficult place to hit home runs.
It’s an even tougher place to hit home runs when the pitching is as good as Oakland’s.
Nothing will undo a post-season run faster than the long ball and, technically speaking, no one is better positioned to avoid its damming effects better than the A’s.
Whether they win the division, an increasingly UNlikely prospect given the Angels 8+ game lead, or get into the ALDS by winning a Wild Card game, the A’s will get at least two games in Oakland in both the Division and Championship Series.
Two, possibly three games in a stadium where it’s hard to score runs against pitchers that are hard to score runs against.
Did I mention that already?
I did?
OK, well, let me say it again: the A’s can P-I-T-C-H.
Led by mid-season acquisition Jon Lester, the Oakland pitching staff has the 5th best ERA in baseball, the 2nd best WHIP and the 2nd best BAA.
If the five starters in the rotation (Lester, Gray, Kazmir, Chavez and Samardzija) were a team unto themselves, they’d have the 3rd best ERA (3.2), the best WHIP in baseball (1.14) and the 5th best BAA (.238).
If I’m the opponent, Oakland is a place I don’t want to play and its Jon Lester-led rotation is a force I don’t want to contend with.
Do the A’s seem harmless right now given their record over the past five weeks? Absolutely.
But, if I may pose a somewhat ridiculous comparison – and I think I can, it IS an Op-Ed after all – I liken the Oakland Athletics to the lovable family dog and the rest of the MLB to the annoying child hell-bent on pulling its tail.
The dog will only take the abuse for so long. Sooner or later, that kid is going to get bitten.
If and when their slump ends, watch out baseball fans:
The A’s are steamrolling their way to the World Series.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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