Surprise: Oakland Athletics
For the second straight year, the A’s are headed to the postseason. While their chances were decent when the year started, it was hard to see where they fit in when looking at a very top-heavy American League. But with both the Indians and Red Sox disappointing to similar degrees, a door was opened that Oakland has taken full advantage of.
Even with a lackluster year from Blake Treinen, Oakland’s bullpen ranked among the best in baseball with a 6.9 cumulative fWAR (nice). One of their biggest offseason questions was how they’d patch together an acceptable rotation to make a run, but they managed to do that, too. Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, and Chris Bassitt all produced sub-4.00 ERAs, and the A’s also welcomed Sean Manaea back to the rotation in the process. Heck, they were even able to get a 4.30 ERA and 1.7 fWAR out of Homer Bailey in 73.1 innings.
The stellar infield trio of Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson will led the way into their matchup with the Rays, which should be fascinating to watch considering how the organizations tend to operate differently than the rest of the league.