Baseball is full of surprises.
In 2016, the Cubs did the impossible and broke the curse. In 2017, the Twins turned a 103 loss team into a playoff team. So far, the story of 2018 is being written over in Oakland, as the Athletics are pushing to dethrone the Houston Astros in the AL West.
At first, the A’s didn’t seem like anything special. They spent the better part of April-June flirting around the .500 win % mark, not making much if any noise in a crowded AL Western division.
On June 16th, that all changed. Chad Pinder’s homerun propelled them to a 6-4 victory over the LA Angels that day, putting them just a game under .500. At the time, the victory seemed nothing more than a temporary end to their 5 game losing streak.
Instead, it served as a jumpstart for one hell of a run for this team. Since that Saturday afternoon, Oakland has gone 38-12, propelling them from 4th in the division to just 1 game back of first place.
It's August 14 and the Oakland A's are one game back of the Houston Astros in the AL West. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody.
— Bonta Hill (@BontaHill) August 15, 2018
In those 50 games, Oakland has been near the top of most everything. Their .799 team OPS ranks 2nd only to Boston, while they’ve hit the 4th most homeruns (75) of any team in baseball. Their 3.55 ERA ranks 5th best, while the bullpen’s 3.19 ERA is unmatched.
A lot of the success is in thanks to Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen holding down the back end of the bullpen. Oakland has yet to lose a game this season when leading after 7 innings, a feat no other teams can speak to.
Oakland A's when leading after 7 innings: 50-0.
— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) August 15, 2018
On the front end, Edwin Jackson has been a remarkable pickup at nearly 35 years old. He’s pitched to a 2.48 ERA and 1.031 WHIP in his 11 starts, helping the A’s secure 9 wins in those games.
There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but there’s seemingly nothing that can stop this team. Houston desperately needs it’s star middle infielders back and healthy, else they may wind up going from reigning champs to wild card chumps.