The Oakland A’s were surprise winners of the AL West Division this season and beat the Chicago White Sox in the Wild-Card Round before losing in four games to division rival Houston in the American League Division Series.
Oakland Athletics | 2020 MLB Expert AnalysisThe A’s finished the season with a 36-24 record for a .600 winning percentage. That tied for the second-best record in the American League, tied for fourth best in the majors and tied for eighth best in Oakland history. It was the A’s best since the 2002 club finished 103-59 (.636).
The A’s compiled a 3.77 ERA, which was fifth lowest in the majors. They had the fifth lowest opponents on-base percentage (.302), the ninth lowest OPS (.693) and the 10th lowest slugging percentage (.392). The on-base percentage was seventh lowest in Oakland history. They had the second fewest hit batters in the majors (15), issued the third fewest walks (165) and tied for the sixth fewest home runs (69).
The A’s led the majors in walk-off wins (6) and extra-inning wins (6), tied for second in last at bats wins (10) and tied for sixth in comeback wins (16).
Arguably Oakland’s best player this season was reliever Liam Hendriks, who was named the 2020 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year. Hendriks converted 14-of-15 (93.3%) save opportunities and compiled a 1.78 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the A’s in 2020. He ranked second in the majors in saves and did not have a blown save over his final 14 chances. Hendriks struck out 37 batters in 25.1 innings and walked just three while yielding one home run. He ranked third among ML relievers in strikeout-to-walk ratio (12.33), fifth in opponents on-base percentage (.187) and sixth in OPS (.405).
Meanwhile, first baseman Matt Olson and center fielder Ramón Laureano were named finalists for the 2020 AL Gold Glove Award at their respective positions.
Olson won the award in each of the previous two seasons and was one of the top defensive first basemen in the majors again in 2020. Playing in all 60 games at first base, he committed just one error for a .9977 fielding percentage, which was the second highest fielding percentage in Athletics history to seven-time Gold Glove winner Vic Power (.9981, 1957 Kansas City A’s). Olson ranked second among Major League first basemen in assists (48) and innings (499.1), tied for third in defensive runs saved (5), fourth in fielding percentage and sixth in total chances (442) and putouts (393).
Laureano did not commit an error in 53 starts in center field. His 146 total chances were second most in the majors among outfielders (Robert, CWS 154) and were the most among outfielders with no errors. Laureano led ML outfielders in total chances per nine innings (2.94) and ranked second in putouts (144). He had two assists and now has 21 since making his ML debut on Aug. 3, 2018, which are the most in the majors among outfielders over that span, ahead of Teoscar Hernandez (19).
The Gold Glove winners will be announced on Nov. 3. A strong young core remains intact for the 2021 season. But with 12 players set to hit free agency, including team leader Marcus Semien and Hendriks, the A’s will have some tough decisions to make.
Semien’s value to the club is an interesting dynamic. Though he followed up an MVP-caliber 2019 campaign by struggling for most of the ’20 regular season as he dealt with a rib injury, Semien turned it on during the playoffs and was Oakland’s top hitter with a team-leading .407 batting average and 1.151 OPS over seven games.
Also a free agent is second baseman Tommy LaStella, with Athletics general manager David Forst having said the team would like to re-sign him. “He’s the kind of guy who, when you play against him, you think you have a sense of how good he is. Then when you see him every day, you really appreciate the things he does. What he brought to our lineup the last month was critical to where we went.”
The 31-year-old hit .289/.369/.423 with a homer and 11 RBI in 27 games with the A’s following a mid-season trade from the Angels. He then hit .296 (8-for-27) with a homer and two in the postseason.
Oakland opens the 2021 season on April 1 at home vs. Houston.
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