Watch out, the Oakland Athletics may be your like your daddy's team after all.
After years of futility, the Athletics are returning to the same form the late 1980s to early 1990s teams experienced.
Oakland came out of nowhere and surprised many by winning the division last year on the last day of the season.
This year, the A's are continuing their good play, tying the Boston Red Sox with the most wins (36) in the American League entering Wednesday.
They are showing that 2012 was no fluke, and teams like Boston, New York, Detroit and Texas better be ready to contend with them.
How are they doing it with a $60 million payroll, which is the third lowest in MLB?
Moneyball Is Still Alive
Just when you thought moneyball was dead for general manager Billy Beane, the A's continue to use it to be successful.
Of the 25 players on the active roster, only 14 are making more than $1 million, with four players making more than $5 million, according to Newsday.com.
Take Josh Donaldson, for instance. He's making $492,500 this year to play third base. He's hitting .332 with eight home runs and 37 RBI. Keeping with Beane's "getting on base" theme, Donaldson has an OBP of .402.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chris Young (the highest-paid player on the team) is batting five home runs, 22 RBI and a .269 OBP. That's not a good return on an $8.7 million investment.
Beane has good value in players like Donaldson, Jed Lowrie and A.J. Griffin. Not to mention Bartolo Colon and his salary of $3 million is currently the ace of the pitching staff with seven wins and a 3.14 ERA.
Putting Wins Together
For any team to be successful, it has to put wins together.
That's something the A's have been able to do as of late.
Coming into Wednesday, Oakland has won 16 of its last 19 games, including sweeps of the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros. Also included was taking three of four games from the San Francisco Giants and two of three from the Texas Rangers.
And the A's are winning every way possible. From being 6-1 in one-run games during that stretch to scoring at least six runs eight times, Oakland is getting it done.
The pitching staff has also given up two runs or fewer 10 times and gave up five runs or more three times.
When you have a team that can win the close ones and keep a team from scoring more than five runs, it'll be successful.
At this time last year, the A's were 24-32 and hadn't won more than three games in a row the whole year. In fact, they were 34 games above .500 the rest of the year, winning 29 of their last 41 games.
This year has seen some struggles, but the A's are finding ways to win ballgames. Can they keep it up?
The bottom line is the A's are winning games they're supposed to win.
There are those who will speak of an easy schedule for the A's, but the fact remains they didn't make the schedule. The games were put in front of them, and they've done well thus far.
Balance in the Lineup and Rotation
The most important key for the A's has been the balance in the lineup.
They have seven players getting on base more than one-third of the time and have 198 RBI with runners in scoring position.
Players like Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick have had their struggles this year. But Moss and Cespedes have combined for 20 home runs and 60 RBI, while Reddick is batting .290 over the past 10 days.
Like we've seen with other teams, Oakland's stars will eventually raise their batting averages, producing like they did last year.
Then there's the rotation, which is led by Colon and his 3.14 ERA. Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin have 14 quality starts between them, and both have ERAs under 4.00.
It may not be sexy, but the A's are getting it done.
Combine everything together and you see last year was no fluke and the A's are a team to contend with in 2013.
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