The Oakland Athletics were not supposed to be good in 2012. During the off-season, the A's traded three fourths of their starting rotation (Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Guillermo Moscoso) and closer (Andrew Bailey), and even let their best statistical hitter (Josh Willingham) sign with the Minnesota Twins. Heck, they even lost star starter Brett Anderson on June 5, 2011 (he's only pitched 20 IP in 2012) to Tommy John surgery, and still haven't seen Dallas Braden pick-up a baseball in 2012 at all. Yet, it's September, and the 79-60 Athletics are only trailing the Texas Rangers by 3.5 games, and are currently one of the two Wild Card leading teams. With their payroll a franchise-low since 2008, and incredibly, the second-lowest in the Major Leagues this season (about a million more than the Pittsburgh Pirates), one truly has to wonder, "How are the Oakland Athletics winning?"
On the surface, the answer is simple: extremely diligent free-agent signings and perfect trade returns. But let's take a closer look...... click here to read the rest of this article.