After beating the Texas Rangers Tuesday night, the A's moved into a tie with Texas at the top of the division. The two teams will face each other at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday in the final game of the regular season. The winner will be the AL West champions.
So just how remarkable is all of this?
At the beginning of the 2012 season, national publications including ESPN.com, The Sporting News, and Baseball America picked the A's to finish dead last in the division.
Consider this: The New York Yankees' opening day payroll this season was about $198 million. After Tuesday night, they had won 94 games. And the A's had won 93 games with a payroll around just $55 million.
This season, they traded away veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki, they lost key players to injuries, and veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon was suspended for the rest of 2012 for testosterone use. They used 19 rookies throughout the season. The team batting average is .238 as they enter Wednesday's game. These are certainly not the traditional makings of a championship team. And yet, here they are, sending their critics to the showers.
Team chemistry and the steady leadership of manager Bob Melvin are factors. General manager, Billy Beane, whose system for finding talent on a tight budget was profiled in the book and movie, "Moneyball," also deserves credit. The sequel to "Moneyball" is now playing out before our eyes in Oakland. And it is arguably more remarkable than the original.