What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
The knock on Billy Beane and his Oakland Athletics has always been "his crap doesn't work in the playoffs". Since Beane rolled into down, the A's had won just one playoff series despite making the playoffs six times in 13 seasons. But that all changed in 2013, when the A's crap *worked* in the playoffs, and the team won not just one playoff series, but three, and a World Championship.
Throughout Beane's tenure as A's GM, pitching has always been the team's strong point. That trait held true in 2013, as Oakland's pitching staff was one of the best in baseball. The staff was led by Brett Anderson, who finally had a full, healthy season in the majors, logging 183 innings of 2.70 ERA ball while striking out 135 hitters. Oakland's rotation past Anderson was just as good, with Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, and AJ Griffin all avoiding sophomore slumps and Bartolo Colon coming back into the rotation like a house of fire after returning from his PED suspension.
Oakland's no name bullpen from 2012 ended up getting a lot of notoriety due to their performance last season, and gained even more attention after the way they pitched in 2013. Converted infielder Sean Doolittle was the star of the show, throwing 55 innings and striking out 78 hitters while walking only 14. Doolittle served as the primary setup man to closer Grant Balfour, who saved 31 games and had a 1.83 ERA while showing no signs of stress from meniscus surgery in the spring. Ryan Cook was the third of the three bullpen amigos in Oakland, and he was just as good as the other two, throwing 72 innings and striking out 81 hitters.
Then, there was the offense. Josh Reddick built on his breakout 2012 to smash 36 homers and improve his OPS to .812. Yoenis Cespedes' second year in America was a huge success, and the Cuban hit 29 homers while stealing 21 bases while also improving his defense in left field for the A's. The new middle infield duo of Scott Sizemore and Hiroyuki Nakajima were one of the best defensive middle infields in the game, and provided enough offense where they could be considered more than just a pair of gloves.
The AL West race was tight all season between the A's and Angels, but Oakland clinched the division during the season's final week after going 9-3 in 12 games against the Rangers and Angels in September. There was no rest for the A's though, as they entered battled against the Detroit Tigers once again in the ALDS. This year though, the A's came out on top, with Anderson outdueling Justin Verlander in a 1-0 thriller in game five. Oakland moved on to the ALCS against their division rivals from Los Angeles, and the A's won in seven games due in large part to Mike Trout picking up just one hit in 32 plate appearances over the course of the series. Finally in the World Series, the A''s took on another team from southern California: the Los Angeles Dodgers. The high-priced Dodgers and the bargain basement A's are a sharp contrast to each other, and during the 25th anniversary season of the Dodgers' World Series won over the A's, LA fans were hoping for a repeat performance. In game five of the series, Matt Kemp came up a man on second with two outs in the ninth inning and the Dodgers trailing by a run and trailing three games to one in the series. But unlike Dennis Eckersley against Kirk Gibson in game one 25 years earlier, Balfour struck Kemp out to end the game and bring a championship to Oakland.
Athletics on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)