The Oakland Atlhletics franchise has been around a long time. Beginning in Philadelphia, then moving to Kansas City and then to Oakland, this franchise has been around since 1901. They have had good success on the field too, winning 9 World Series titles, the most recent in 1989.
These days Oakland might be best known for Moneyball, a popular book documenting their approach to competing against teams that spend a lot more than they do. The general approach was using data and analytics more than any other team ever had to try and find market inefficiencies to acquire players who are undervalued and therefore less expensive. Since implementing this strategy the Athletics (A’s) have had success but not won a title. The best measure of the strategy may be that it ushered in statistical analysis that is commonplace around the league.
The A’s are led by Billy Beane, the focus of Moneyball, who is the team president. Beneath him in the organizational structure are general manager David Forst and manager Bob Melvin. The A’s play in the Oakland Coliseum, considered to be one of the worst home stadiums in the Majors and one of the reasons Oakland does not draw well. For years they shared the venue with the Oakland Raiders, who have now moved to Las Vegas. For years they have also been trying to move out of the antiquated Coliseum with potential homes being in Fremont, San Jose and Peralta, California. The fact that there are no fans in the stands in 2020 is hardly noticeable in Oakland.
The mascot for the Athletics is an elephant. The story behind that one goes all the way back to the origins of the team, when a rival manager said to the new owner that “he had a white elephant” on his hands. Even though it was a negative comment the A’s manager at the time, Connie Mack, adopted the animal as its mascot and it stuck. When they were playing in Kansas City the mascot was changed to a mule, the state animal of Missouri, but eventually it was changed back to the elephant.
There are nine players in the Baseball Hall of Fame who were inducted as “Athletics”, five from the Philadelphia era, none from the Kansas City era, and four from their time in Oakland. Those players are: Philadelphia – Home Run Baker, Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, Al Simmons and Rube Waddell; Oakland – Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson and manager Dick Williams. Two of those players were defining players as Eckersley was probably the best early example of the one inning closer and Henderson the all-time greatest leadoff hitter. Perhaps the most famous player in Oakland A’s history is Reggie Jackson, also known as “Mr. October”. Though also in the Hall of Fame he was not inducted as an Athletic.
As this is being written in August 2020, Oakland is a very competitive team. They are in first place in their division, the American League West, and have made the playoffs as a Wild Card team in each of the last two season. Unfortantely, playoff success has eluded them. They were eliminated in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in each of those seasons. They are an American League favourite this season though.
Oakland’s outlook for the future is very promising as they have a young nucleus featuring one of the best infields in baseball, with sluggers Matt Chapman and Matt Olson at the corners and Marcus Semien at shortstop. On the mound they are very excited about rookie Jesus Luzardo and Frankie Montas. A couple of young starters that could lead the team throughout the decade. Overall they are a powerful team at the plate that can pitch too.
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