Athletics

The numbers behind this incredible stretch of baseball from the A's

The numbers behind this incredible stretch of baseball from the A's

If you haven't noticed that the A's are the hottest team in baseball, you're probably living on Mars.

On Thursday, they rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Astros, taking three of four from the defending World Series champs.

The A's currently sit at 53-41 as they get set to face the Giants in the first three games of the Bay Bridge Series this weekend in San Francisco. They trail the Astros by 8 games in the AL West and trail the Mariners by 5.5 games for the second AL Wild Card spot.

They own a better record than the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians (50-41 entering Thursday). They own the seventh best record in all of baseball.

Since June 16th, the A's are an MLB-best 19-5.

Over their last eight series, the A's are 7-0-1.

The A's are playing well away from the Coliseum as well. With a 29-20 record, they have the third-most wins away from home among all teams in baseball behind the Red Sox (34-17) and the Astros (32-14).

Many reasons why Bob Melvin was right choice for AL Manager of the Year

Many reasons why Bob Melvin was right choice for AL Manager of the Year

Bob Melvin is Manager of the Year in the American League. Not only recognized by The Sporting News a few weeks back, but now, on the grandest stage by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Melvin clearly deserves this honor on his own merits, but it’s even more impressive that he won what could have been a popularity contest. Considering Alex Cora and the season had by his Boston Red Sox. Or Aaron Boone with the Yankees, who wasn’t even named as a finalist. Both of those first-year skippers run huge payroll teams in huge media markets, and obviously lived up to some expectations.

But for Melvin, he took an emerging 2017 A’s group and raised the bar by 22 wins. That was despite enduring a completely broken-down starting rotation and a franchise that began Opening Day with the lowest payroll in all of baseball.

For reference: No team in the last 30 years of Major League Baseball has started the first game with the lowest payroll and gone on to the playoffs. Until the A's did in 2018.

Knowing some of the inner workings of this team without giving too much away, I can tell you that Melvin has a tremendous grasp on his club, both when they are surging and when they are struggling.

After Melvin won this award, analysts will try to point to tangible things such as in-game decision-making when it comes to quantifying how he managed his group so well. And yes, the A's did lead all of baseball in one-run wins.  

But for me, it’s all that you can’t see that makes Melvin the runaway winner for Manager of the Year.

For example, he facilitated the transition of one-time left fielder Khris Davis into an everyday designated hitter, and saw him hit more homers than ever.

Melvin guided Jed Lowrie through a career season where trade talks and the potential of a young prospect taking over at any minute could not have been higher.

Melvin established a back-end of the bullpen that fashioned Lou Trevino and Blake Trienen into one of the best setup/closer tandems in the game.

And last but not least, Melvin helped evolve players like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman during their first full MLB seasons into bonafide leaders on and off the field.

In short, the A’s are lucky to have Bob Melvin in the dugout. And even luckier that his recent contract extension will keep the Bay Area native at the helm for multiple years past the 2019 season.

A's Bob Melvin stays humble after winning AL Manager of the Year Award

A's Bob Melvin stays humble after winning AL Manager of the Year Award

Winning Manager of the Year honors isn't something Bob Melvin is a stranger to -- he's done it three times.

On Tuesday, the BBWAA announced the 57-year-old would take home the American League award after the Oakland A's finished a 2018 campaign that boasted a 97-65 record with an appearance in the AL Wild Card Game.

Despite being accustomed to the congratulatory wishes, Bo Mel remained humble.

"I said earlier -- it just means I've been around for a while, and I'm getting older to be able to be in a position to get it a third time, but it always feels good," Melvin said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "The Happy Hour," with a smile. "It's always a group effort -- our team this year was incredible."

The A's improved by 22 games from last season, and Melvin made sure credit was served to everyone, from the front office to coaches and, of course, the players.

"We are starting to see the fruits of some of these great trades that were made over the years," Melvin said.

And as far as the low payroll the A's are synonymous with -- don't worry. He addressed that as well.

"To be able to succeed with as low as a payroll as we had just means you have young players who are going to play really well -- and we did," Melvin said with a laugh.

He's not wrong.

Second baseman Jed Lowrie and closer Blake Treinen earned All-Star selections in 2018, and first baseman Matt Olson took home a Gold Glove Award and Matt Chapman earned a Platinum Glove Award for his defensive capabilities on the hot corner.

"To be able to do what they did and look at the Khris Davises and Marcus Semiens and Jed Lowries -- everyone on our team contributed," Melvin said.

Melvin earned 18 first-place votes from the BBWAA, beating out World Series champion manager Alex Cora, who came in second, by 11.