Through the first 90 games of the Major League Baseball season, the green machine on the other side of the bay from the world champs has been impressive to say the least.
The A’s, who over the last few seasons have been at their best after the All-Star break, have flipped the script and are an A.L. West best 53-37 with little more than a week until the All-Star Game in New York.
Oakland’s captivating and charming style has led to the second-best record in the entire A.L., just one game behind the Red Sox, and fourth best in the majors.
So, why did this collection of characters, who simply seem to find a way to win, only garner one All-Star selection?
Location, location, location.
The A’s haven’t been on the MLB map for years. Most saw last year’s late-season run as an aberration and have yet to take notice this season.
With Bartolo Colon (12-3, 2.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) as the A’s only representative, the most glaring snub in Oakland is Grant Balfour. The hard-throwing righty is the only closer in the A.L. without a blown save and boasts an ERA of 1.77, which is lower than All-Star selection Mariano Rivera and second best among A.L. closers.
Balfour may still get a plane ticket to New York as Colon is expected to start the Sunday before the All-Star game, which could possibly open up a spot for Balfour under the “Sunday Pitcher Rule.” In the collective bargaining agreement, a pitcher who throws the Sunday before the All-Star game is only allowed to throw one inning in the Mid-Summer Classic but can choose to not play and open that spot up while still participating in the festivities and retaining the title of All-Star.
The other player in Oakland who deserves to fight for home-field advantage for his league in the World Series is Josh Donaldson. As of Monday, Donaldson leads the A’s in batting average (.319), home runs (15), RBIs (58), on-base percentage (.386) and hits (104). But alas, Donaldson found himself on the wrong end of a numbers game at third base.
Miguel Cabrera from Detroit will get the start at third, and rightfully so, and Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles grabbed the other nod at that position. Machado’s numbers aren’t that of Donaldson’s as he averages .315, with six dingers and 43 RBIs.
But even if Donaldson would have beat out Machado, he would likely have lost out to Evan Longoria over in Tampa Bay and Adrian Beltre in Texas.
Why? Because he plays in Oakland, where nobody has been taken seriously since the Miguel Tejada/ Jason Giambi years.
Cases could be made for Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Yeonis Cespedes, but they wouldn’t hold water.
What boggles my mind is that the Detroit Tigers have five All-Stars, one of whom is Torii Hunter, who was seventh in the balloting and currently batting .306 with six home runs and 42 RBIs — middle-of-the-road numbers for a middle-of-the-road player at the end of his career.
Over in San Francisco, the Giants grabbed three All-Star nods and have Hunter Pence up for the fans’ choice selection, but he will likely be beat out by the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, and what a joke that is.
I guess all it takes to make the All-Star game is a good month and a fresh face. Puig has played in 32 games this season — played well in them — but a 32-game resume shouldn’t warrant an All-Star appearance, no matter how good a stretch.
Buster Posey and Marco Scutaro are both solid choices and deserve to be in the game, but Madison Bumgarner may have been a reach by Bruce Bochy, who is notorious for adding members of his pitching staff to the All-Star lineup who have borderline stats. Bumgarner has been the most consistent Giants pitcher with a 9-5 record and a 3.17 ERA, but few baseball fans who don’t wear orange and black would say he is an All-Star.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.