Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/20/14
There weren’t any expectations for the Athletics entering 2012. After trading their top three players –– Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez –– over the offseason for prospects, the organization appeared destined for a 100-loss season after going 74-88 in 2011. At one point, a losing record looked like a reality. On June 13, the Athletics were trailing the Rangers by 13 games for first place in the division. Even with nine days left in the season, Oakland was behind Texas by five games. Yet someway, Athletics manager Bob Melvin managed to turn the team’s fortunes around and guide them to a division title with a 94-68 record. That’s why Melvin deserved the American League Manager of the Year. He maximized the most out of youngster Josh Reddick and rookie Yoenis Cespedes, who combined for 55 home runs and 162 RBIs to carry Oakland’s offense into the postseason. During the season, Melvin steadied the ship as the roster drastically changed. By the end of the regular season, the Athletics were playing with a completely different infield than the one from Opening Day. Not a single one stuck at their original position. That’s nothing compared to the makeover the starting rotation received. One by one, Melvin started slotting rookies into the rotation, hoping they’d survive after being baptized by fire. Whatever Melvin said, it worked. Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin made a seamless transition into the majors. When Bartolo Colon was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs and Brandon McCarthy was drilled by a line drive, Brett Anderson stepped right in and posted a 4-2 record with a 2.57 ERA in six starts. He came up with a creative and consistent platoon in the outfield. Regardless of how they performed on a day-to-day basis, Melvin rotated between Brandon Moss, Jonny Gomes, Seth Smith and Collin Cowgill in the outfield. With the lowest payroll in baseball –– $59.5 million –– the Athletics penned a sequel to Moneyball by spearheading a run to the playoffs. Had they not faced Tigers ace Justin Verlander twice in a series, Oakland could’ve snuck into the World Series. The craziest part is they still have young talent on the way for Melvin to play with. Pitchers A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Raul Alcantara along with infielder Miles Head were all top prospects acquired last offseason who never played in 2012. Should they develop sooner and evolve into major contributors, Melvin could be well on his way to another managerial award. Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Byron Scott: ‘Idiots’ think Lakers are better team without Kobe

Undrafted QB Connor Shaw to sign with Browns, likely start

Report: Alex Smith out Week 17 with lacerated spleen

Belichick: Garoppolo has better understanding of NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lionel Hollins: 'Honored and blessed to coach Kevin Garnett'

Curt Schilling gives Johnny Manziel advice on Twitter

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

Andre Johnson willing to take pay cut with Texans?

Mets star David Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

Kevin Garnett: ‘Very weird’ to see Celtics without Rajon Rondo

Report: New Jersey Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer

Mark Richt confirms Todd Gurley will leave UGA for NFL

Frank Gore: Colin Kaepernick is 'not broke'

The story of Morgan Bulkeley and birth of National League

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things the world learned about the NBA on Christmas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things learned about NBA on X-Mas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Year's most notable sports media stories

'Roberto Gronkowski wishes fans Feliz Navidad

Are the Seahawks back on track?

Wright reaches out to slain officer's sons

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.