A’s have had an amazing season no matter what happens now.
The A’s would be bitterly disappointing if they miss the playoffs. On the other hand, it’s amazing they’re still in contention. They probably couldn’t imagine being in contention with nine games remaining if they’d known they’d get 22 victories from Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden and Bartolo Colon.
GM Billy Beane loves the young arms at the top of his system. He believes they’re going to be the foundation for a staff that will be one of baseball’s best for a good long run. On the other hand, he never expected to count on so many kids in 2012. That he has used 11 rookie pitchers, that they’ve won 42 games is a tribute to their talent, poise and maturity.
They’ve positioned the A’s in a place they never expected to be. If the season ended today, the A’s would fly to Baltimore for the new one-game wild card playoff game. They’ve done it with an offense built around home runs and walks and with a pitching staff carried by the young arms of Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and others.
The A’s have the American League’s best record since the All-Star Break at 43-24. They’ve got baseball’s best record since early June at 64-37. They’ve passed every test and then some.
Now, though, the grind appears to have caught up with the youngsters. Their starters have failed to finish five innings in six of the last eight games. Meanwhile, the Rangers lead the A’s by five games in the AL West. The Angels are just two behind in the race for the second wild-card berth.
No one around the A’s will remember that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year if they don’t make it. No one will mention that the A’s are again doing it with baseball’s second-lowest payroll. It’s a season in which Beane has again done more with less than almost anyone.