- 10/03/2012, 08:02PM ET
Outlaw... said 10/03, 08:02 PM
We now know which teams will be in the playoffs, so we can now officially call teams surprises and disappointments.
Surprise team for me has to be the Oakland Athletics. Before the season started, I could only name like 7 players on the team, and during the offseason, they traded away their two best starting pitchers of previous seasons in Gonzalez and Cahill. This looked to be yet another bleak season for Oakland, only real excitement surrounding the team was Yoenis Cespedes. But Today, the last day of the regular season, they topped the Rangers, the AL representative of the last two World Series for the AL West title. No one and done for Oakland.
Biggest disappointment for me is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I know they finished with a winning record, but on paper, this team should have been one of the best teams of the last decade. They signed Albert Pujols, Mike Trout had one of the best rookie seasons of all time, and on paper, their rotation was great, and then they traded for Greinke. Preseason popular pick to win the World Series to missing the playoffs completely.
YankeesFan said 10/03, 08:36 PM
While the A's are a great story and definitely surprised nearly everyone this year, my surprise team is the Baltimore Orioles. Last year the O's finished last in the AL East at 69-93, but turned it around this year to finish with 93 (or 94) wins and jumped everyone besides the Yankees (though they kept with them to the wire) in a division in which every other team finished .500 or better last year. In arguably the toughest division in the league, the O's had the best divisional record in the AL.
The A's didn't have a terrible year last season, finishing within striking distance of .500 and a run differential of just -34 (as compared to the O's differential of -152, better than only the Twins and Astros).
The Orioles also turned around one of the worst pitching performances by a team for last season, having a team ERA of almost 5.00, and .31 higher than the next worst team. This year, with a staff of unheralded pitchers, they finished in the top half of the league in ERA and lowered their team ERA by a full run.
As for disappointment, I think a good argument could be made for the Red Sox, but I'll leave this one alone and agree with the Angels pick.
Outlaw... said 10/04, 08:37 AM
The Orioles are a fine pick, thought about taking them myself, but there's a few reasons why I think the A's deserve the top surprise nod.
1. The A's won the AL West, which has been the best division in baseball this season. They topped not only the AL rep of the last two World Series, but the sexy pick for the World Series preseason in the Angels. Baltimore had to settle for a Wild Card. The A's postseason chances doesn't come down to 1 game for the A's.
2. The A's traded their best two pitchers of last season away, and Dallas Braden missed the entire season. The A's won with what was essentially a patchwork rotation. The Orioles added a couple of pieces to their young rotation in the offseason.
3. The only recognizeable name on the A's preseason was Yoenis Cespedes, a rookie. At least the Orioles had Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, JJ Hardy and Mark Reynolds. Neither were expected to contend, but there were more name players on the Orioles.
Both teams had very surprising seasons, and it's good for baseball as a whole, but Oakland was the biggest surprise this season.
YankeesFan said 10/05, 02:13 AM
The Orioles may not have won the East, but they were in it competing with the Yankees down to the final day of the season. No way anyone saw that coming in March. And though they didn't win it, the Orioles were in a division with 3 90+ win teams, and the highest and 3rd highest payrolls.
They may have had some recognizable names, but that doesn't make those players better than non-house hold name players.
While the Orioles were dreadful last year in nearly every facet of the game, the A's showed some sign of promise, maybe not of turning it around this drastically, but they finished last year with a top 10 team ERA and didn't finish the year too far under .500.
The last time the Orioles won 70 or more games was in 2006, and they only won 70 that year. In that time span, Oakland never had fewer than 74 wins, won the AL West, and had a .500 season as recently as 2010.
The A's haven't been a great team the past few years, but they haven't embarrassed themselves. The Orioles, on the other hand, have been dreadfully bad for the last decade and then some. To see them go from awful to 93 wins and the playoffs in one year is more surprising than the A's.
Outlaw... said 10/05, 10:13 AM
Last year the A's might have finished close to .500, but last year they had Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden. Gio Gonzalez is the now the Nationals' ace. Trevor Cahill is a Diamondback and Dallas Braden is on the DL.
Losing 3 of your top pitchers, and your top signing to replace them, Bartolo Colon(who was busted for PEDs and has missed the last couple months BTW). It was expected the A's would drop off drastically this season.
With the Orioles, last season, the pitching rotation was their biggest problem. Thing is, their rotation was young and improvement with experience should be expected. Trading for Jason Hammel, signing Wey-yen(spell) Chen and development of younger pitchers, an improvement should have been expected.
Bottom line is, the A's beat out the Rangers and Angels, the two most commonly picked teams to rep the AL in the WS in baseball's toughest division to win it. The Orioles finished second in the East. They are only guaranteed one playoff game.
Oakland was more surprising.
YankeesFan said 10/05, 04:00 PM
The Orioles season was so surprising because, even now, it's incredibly difficult to explain why they actually were successful. We may have been surprised that some players on Oakland did well that we weren't expecting, but ultimately, they had a team that was legitimately good offensively, particularly at hitting HRs, and great pitching.
This isn't to take away from what the Orioles did, or to call them lucky, but by all standards of success that we've seen, the Orioles shouldn't have been good.
They destroyed the record for highest winning percentage in 1-run games of all time, and won 16 straight extra inning games, both categories that one would expect would be more of a 50-50 shot.
Baltimore took nearly the whole season to get a positive run differential, and almost didn't at all, finishing the year with just 7 more runs scored than allowed.
So not only were we not expecting Baltimore to be good, but statistically, they didn't play that much better than expected, and still turned 93 losses last year into 93 wins this year.
The lack of any true explanation makes the O's more surprising than Oakland.
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