This time of year is prone to hyperbole. As teams get prepared to either head home, or head towards the most nerve wracking month of the season, big bold predictions are often made. All the experts from all the most revered and trusted media outlets will take a stab at picking the eventual World Series champions in the coming days. More than likely we’ll see many choosing the Boston Red Sox or the St. Louis Cardinals, even the Detroit Tigers. They will be described as “locks” to make it to the World Series. One team that will in all likelihood be left out of those discussions is the Oakland Athletics.
Last season it was understandable that they A’s were being treated as underdogs, because quite frankly they were. This time around, they are not sneaking up on anyone. With their very strong 96 win season, they aren’t just happy to be in the playoffs, they want to win the whole thing. Of course that’s the goal for any team heading into the postseason, but the difference here is that a loss in the first round would be met with extreme disappointment rather than the outpouring of emotion and gratitude we witnessed last year.
It seems crazy for a team to relish in their perception as an underdog when they excelled so much in the regular season, but that is what this team thrives on. While players like Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Jed Lowrie may not be household names, they have all contributed in great ways to the strong offense that helped catapult the A’s into the playoffs for the second straight year. Jarrod Parker is possibly a budding ace, but how many casual fans would be able to pick him out of a lineup? We all know Bartolo Colon, but at age 40 his production is far from the norm.
Predicting the playoffs is an inexact science. The MLB postseason is as much of a crapshoot as well… shooting craps. There are so many random factors that can turn a series on its ear, and advance a team that no expert believes has any business doing so. With the Athletics, should they advance beyond the ALDS, it will come as a surprise to many, but it shouldn’t. If the A’s win the AL pennant, it will be an amazing feat that few saw coming. If they win the World Series, they will go down as the best championship team ever that nobody expected to win.
This entire premise will be moot though if the experts give the A’s some respect, but we all know that’s not going to happen.