OAKLAND -- It's really quite incredible how closely the A's last two seasons have mirrored one another.
In 2018, Oakland got off to a sluggish 34-36 start through 70 games, only to finish the season 97-65. This year, the A's found themselves in a similar position at 34-34. Since then, they have gone 57-27 to put themselves in prime playoff position once again. So what is it that has made the A's such a great second-half team?
"It really is hard to say," third baseman Matt Chapman said. "I think at the beginning of the year, there's just a lot of different pieces -- maybe some guys going up and down, guys not knowing their roles right away, maybe certain guys trying certain things. Once we get into a groove, I feel like we kind of find our niche and we stick with it. And it's a long season. A lot of other teams start off really hot and then they kind of cool off. ... It is a marathon, not a sprint."
The familiarty of last year's run also has conttributed to the surge this season.
"I think there's no panic," Mark Canha said. "We were able to do it last year somehow. We knew at the beginning of this year when we didn't come out of the gates roaring just to kind of hang in there and we're definitely more than capable of turning this thing around. It's just a belief and confidence that lets us kind of do what we do."
But it's not just the last two years where the A's have found second-half success. In 2012, Oakland went just 39-42 in the first half of the season. They followed that up with a 53-28 record in the second half, winning the final six games of the regular season to claim the AL West title.
"It's not how you start, it's more how you finish and how you play in the second half," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's the great thing about a 162-game season. Usually, the talent level takes over at some point in time. You kind of are who you are. Your record indicates what kind of team you really are and it usually plays out at the end."
Last season's experience certainly has helped the A's from a mental standpoint this year. The entire team remained calm and level-headed throughout their early-season struggles, never doubting their ability to climb back in the playoff race.
"I think last year gave us a bunch of confidence," Chapman said. "We made the playoffs when nobody expected us to do anything. We were all a bunch of young kids. Now we've been there. Now we know what it takes. That's why we didn't panic at the beginning of the year."
Now the A's find themselves in position to reach the postseason for the second straight year. At 91-61, Oakland leads Tampa Bay by two games and Cleveland by 2 1/2 in the AL wild-card standings with just 10 games remaining.
"We're confident," Chapman said. "We expect to be in the Wild Card Game. We want to host that thing."