There were many surprises that took place last season in baseball. Debatably, none were more unexpected than Oakland’s magical, improbable run towards their eventual clinching of the American League West crown. Finishing with the same regular season record (94-68) as the current World Champion San Francisco Giants, the A’s enjoyed an unforgettable season of success behind:
- A staff full of talented, rookie starters.
- The defection and signing of a certain blooming Cuban “star in the making” in Yoenis Cespedes.
- Solid defense from an unproven, and, for the most part, young infield.
- The second best bullpen in baseball in terms of ERA (2.94).
- A seventh place ranking for long balls (195) in all of Major League Baseball.
- Smart mixing and matching/platooning from manager Bob Melvin.
- And a wacky clubhouse chemistry that paralleled that of the team’s cross-bridge rivals.
Couple that with a career year compliments of outfielder Josh Reddick, a solid year in center from Coco Crisp, surprise contributions from hot-corner helmsmen Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Chris Carter (who is now in Houston fighting for a roster spot), and you have the 2012 Oakland Athletics.
But that was last year, and the 2013 season is fast upon us. It could be a year that might prove more of a challenge than last for a hopeful – albeit bitter – Oakland club that bashed last season’s expectations en route to its first postseason appearance since 2006, as they were knocked out of October during the ALCS at the behest of the Detroit Tigers.
Now, while Oakland went into 2012 expecting the worst, hoping for the best, we now know what this incarnation of the team is capable of.
However, there are a few looming challenges Oakland could face during 2013.