Saturday, November 20, 2010

PTWSW #70: The 1973 Oakland A's

Manager: Dick Williams
Record: 94-68
Ballpark: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Owner: Charles O. Finley
Coaches: Jerry Adair, Vern Hoscheit, Irv Noren, Wes Stock

Future Hall of Famers: Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson

All-Stars: Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Rollie Fingers, Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Reggie Jackson, .293
OBP: Gene Tenace, .387
SLG: Reggie Jackson, .531 (AL leader)
OPS: Reggie Jackson, .914 (AL leader)
2B: Sal Bando, 32 (AL leader)
3B: Bert Campaneris, 6
HR: Reggie Jackson, 32 (AL leader)
RBI: Reggie Jackson, 117 (AL leader)
BB: Gene Tenace, 101
SB: Bill North, 53

Team Leaders, Pitching

W: Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, 21
SO: Vida Blue, 158
ERA: Ken Holtzman, 2.97
IP: Ken Holtzman, 297.1
CG: Ken Holtzman, 16
SHO: Vida Blue, Ken Holtzman, 4
K/BB: Ken Holtzman, 2.38
SV: Rollie Fingers, 22


Oldest Player: Vic Davalillo (b. July 31, 1936)

Youngest Player: Glenn Abbott (b. February 16, 1951)

First to Leave Us: Gonzalo Marquez (d. December 20, 1984)

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Deron Johnson (debut September 20, 1960)

Last in Majors: Manny Trillo (final game May 20, 1989)

First to Play For the Franchise: Deron Johnson (June 15, 1961)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Reggie Jackson (October 4, 1987)

Pre-union Team: The 1968 Cleveland Indians had four: Vic Davalillo, Ray Fosse, Rob Gardner and Horacio Pina.

Reunion Team: The 1978 New York Yankees had five: Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Jay Johnstone and Paul Lindblad. Perhaps George Steinbrenner targeted these guys because he knew they could win under a meddlesome, overbearing owner.


Reggie Jackson, AL MVP

Season Summary

Like the previous season, the A's were a top offensive team. They tied for the AL lead in OPS+, were third in homers and second in steals. They were great at avoiding double plays, grounding into the second-fewest twin killings despite frequently being on base, and it may have been what allowed them to score the most runs per game despite playing in a heavy pitcher's park. Their defense was once again fantastic, finishing second in TotalZone and DER, which helped their contact-oriented pitching staff post the fourth-best ERA+ in the Junior Circuit.

After winning the 1972 World Championship, the A's added some new faces to their lineup in hopes of a repeat. Former Cub outfielder Bill North took over in center, allowing Reggie Jackson to shift to right. First baseman Mike Epstein and catcher Dave Duncan were shipped out, allowing defensively-challenged catcher Gene Tenace's bat to stay in the lineup at first and new acquisition Ray Fosse to take over catching duties. Fosse wasn't the hitter Duncan or Tenace was, but his defense was superb, with 56% of opposing baserunners getting nabbed.

The AL West was a tightly-packed division for the first half of the season. The A's were as low as fifth place in June, but they were never more than six games back. On June 10 Oakland pulled above .500 for good, and before the month was out they'd worked their way into first. The second half was when the standings loosened up, and from August onward it was a two-team race between Oakland and Kansas City. On August 11 the Royals held a two-game lead, but the A's went on a 13-1 run to go up by five. By mid-September the A's had the division all but wrapped up, and they would win the West by six games.

Just as in 1972, the A's were shorthanded during the playoffs; Bill North injured his ankle at the end of September and was sidelined for October. Despite missing their leading base thief, the A's were able to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the maximum five games in the ALCS. Catfish Hunter was the pitching star of the series, earning a win in Game 2, then tossing a shutout in the clincher. Bert Campaneris was the offensive star, batting .333 and hitting two homers (after clouting only four dingers during the season).

The surprising New York Mets were all that stood in the way of back-to-back Oakland titles. The Amazins had won the weak NL East with an 82-79 record, then upset the 99-win Reds in the NLCS. The A's won a Game 1 pitching duel, but the Mets showed the same mettle they had in reaching the Series by winning Game 2 in twelve innings. Oakland second baseman Mike Andrews allowed Game 2's deciding runs to score on two consecutive errors, and owner Charlie O. Finley was so incensed that he tried to get Andrews replaced on the roster by rookie Manny Trillo. It took an overruling by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to prevent the move. The two teams split the next four to send the Series to Game 7, and the final match was decided in the third inning, when Campaneris and Reggie Jackson each hit two-run homers (the only Oakland round-trippers of the Series). The A's would hold onto the lead for a 5-2 win.

The A's became the first team to win back-to-back World Series since the 1961-62 Yankees. The victory was bittersweet though, as manager Dick Williams resigned immediately after Game 7, citing "personal reasons." Jackson was named MVP of the Series for his six RBI and five extra-base hits.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
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