Closer Grant Balfour celebrating the A's clinching the A.L. West
You would be hard pressed to find a louder stadium than the Coliseum on the last day of the season in Oakland. And the Oakland A's Wednesday win over the Texas Rangers was just that—loud.
You can bet that A's fans will be just as loud and colorful in the postseason. The fans are back, excitement is in the air and—for the time being—Oakland has become a baseball town again.
Let's take a look at how the Athletics are going to fare in the postseason.
Oakland fans learned the power of youth in 2012, witnessing a young group of hurlers who came together to form one of the best rotations in the American League, potentially for years to come.
In their first season at the big leagues, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Tom Milone and Dan Straily looked like seasoned veterans, solidifying an uncertain rotation and all posting an ERA under four.
Parker, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Trevor Cahill deal, was arguably the best pitcher for Oakland, going 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA in his first major league season.
Milone was a throw-in from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal, a trade that also netted Oakland catcher Derek Norris and prospects Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole.
Griffin, a former Team USA alumni, rose quickly through the Oakland system after being drafted out of the University of San Diego. His 7-1 record and 3.06 ERA give the A's bright hopes about his future with the organization.
Finally Straily, who wasn't even considered good enough to pitch in college by most D-1 programs, was scooped up by Marshall University in West Virginia, where he turned himself into a specimen on the hill.
His mid-to-upper 90s fastball and devastating slider give the A's another talented arm to toy with in the playoffs.
On top of their success, the A's had to overcome the adversity of losing ace Brandon McCarthy to a brutal comebacker and Bartolo Colon to PED's, something they have done with commendable resiliency.
Their test of endurance isn't nearly complete, as the young guns from Oakland will face a hungry Detroit Tigers team, boasting the first triple crown winner since 1967 in Miguel Cabrera, accompanied by first baseman Prince Fielder in one of the most feared middle of the lineups in baseball.
They also have an ace and annual Cy Young candidate in Justin Verlander awaiting them in Game 1, as well as a much improved Max Scherzer who can pile up the strikeouts—and quickly.
Even with the hearty challenge, don't expect the A's to be rattled too much—no one expected them to be here anyway.
Projected Postseason Rotation
1. Jarrod Parker (13-8) 3.47 ERA
2. Tom Milone (13-10) 3.74 ERA
3. A.J. Griffin (7-1) 3.06 ERA
4. Dan Straily (2-1) 3.86 ERA
With the film "Moneyball" setting the stage in Oakland, Billy Beane continued to wheel and deal his way to the playoffs, this time with a team that most thought wouldn't be competitive for at least another year or two.
Hit fast forward, because the A's are here and are riding a wave of momentum that Oakland hasn't been on since the late 1980s. While there may not be any "bash brothers" among this group, the chemistry and camaraderie would be hard for any other team to match.
The catalyst Coco Crisp sets the table and the mood for this rowdy group, accompanied by the equally energetic Josh Reddick who was castoff from Boston in the Andrew Bailey trade last offseason. They even have a theme dance, one that is fitting for both the Bay Area and their multidimensional personalities.
Yoenis Cespedes, deemed by many as an overpriced and uncharacteristic signing by Beane, has fit in perfectly and made the proper adjustments to be a productive bat in the middle of the lineup. His plate discipline has improved from the early stages of the season, but his power and defensive prowess remain as sharp as ever.
How far will the Oakland A's advance in the 2012 Postseason?
Others like first baseman Chris Carter and Josh Donaldson have been timely surprises, while the likes of Derek Norris, Stephen Drew and Brandon Moss have paid their own dividends.
Collectively, they are a team with as much power potential as any in the postseason—finishing sixth in the American League in homeruns, despite one of the worst team batting averages.
October will tell whether the A's magical ride can continue, but don't be surprised if this upstart group proves again that chemistry and momentum count in the postseason.
Projected Postseason Lineup
LF Coco Crisp
2B Jemile Weeks
CF Yoenis Cespedes
RF Josh Reddick
1B Chris Carter
DH Brandon Moss
3B Josh Donaldson
SS Stephen Drew
C Derek Norris