Saturday, December 4, 2010

PTWSW #71: The 1974 Oakland A's

Manager: Alvin Dark
Record: 90-72
Ballpark: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Owner: Charles O. Finley
Coaches: Jerry Adair, Bobby Hofman, Wes Stock, Bobby Winkles

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

All-Stars: Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Joe Rudi, .293
OBP: Reggie Jackson, .391
SLG: Reggie Jackson, .514
OPS: Reggie Jackson, .905
2B: Joe Rudi, 39
3B: Bert Campaneris, 8
HR: Reggie Jackson, 29
RBI: Sal Bando, 103
BB: Gene Tenace, 110
SB: Bill North, 54

Team Leaders, Pitching

W: Catfish Hunter, 25
SO: Vida Blue, 174
ERA: Catfish Hunter, 2.49
IP: Catfish Hunter, 318.1
CG: Catfish Hunter, 23
SHO: Catfish Hunter, 6
K/BB: Catfish Hunter, 3.11
SV: Rollie Fingers, 18


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

Youngest Player: Claudell Washington (b. August 31, 1954)

First to Leave Us: Deron Johnson (d. April 23, 1992)

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: Claudell Washington (final game June 18, 1990)

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 1971 Chicago Cubs had three: Pat Bourque, Ken Holtzman and Bill North.

Reunion Team: The 1975-76 Cubs (Tim Hosley, Darold Knowles, Champ Summers, Manny Trillo), 1977 Rangers (Bert Campaneris, Darold Knowles, Paul Lindblad, Claudell Washington) and 1978 Yankees (Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Paul Lindblad) each had four.


Catfish Hunter, AL Cy Young
Joe Rudi, AL Outfield Gold Glove

Season Summary

After two straight World Series titles the A's were battle-tested old pros in 1974. They were never out of first place after May 19, and they maintained a consistent pace once they got there to win the division by five games. Working in their favor was an incredibly balanced roster. Their batting and on-base averages were among the lowest in the AL, but when adjusted for pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum their team OPS+ was second in the league. They were also tops in stolen bases and a close second in home runs. On the pitching side they led the way with a 113 ERA+, and their strong defense once again allowed their pitchers to pitch to contact. Their staff exhibited fine control, posting the lowest walk rate, fewest hit batsmen, and the second-fewest wild pitches.

Oakland's ALCS opponent was the Baltimore Orioles for the second year in a row. Though the O's won one more game than the A's, their Pythagorean records gave Oakland an 11-game advantage. Baltimore won Game 1, but the A's proceeded to rattle off three straight wins and take the AL pennant. Incredibly, Oakland only got one hit in the clincher, that being Reggie Jackson's RBI double. They made up for their paucity of punch by drawing 11 walks, one from Gene Tenace with the bases loaded. It was all they needed for a 2-1 win.

These A's faced perhaps their toughest opponent yet in their third World Series. The Dodgers had won 102 games during the season behind a balanced attack that was remarkably similar to Oakland's, and the Blue Crew was seen as the favorite going into the Fall Classic. The A's extended their World Series winning streak to three though, by taking Game 1 3-2. The Dodgers won Game 2 by the same score, but the A's almost came back in the ninth. Pinch-runner Herb Washington (a sprinter with no baseball experience signed specifically to pinch-run) was picked off first for the second out, taking the wind out of Oakland's sails. The A's were unfazed, as they bounced right back to win Game 3 by (again) a 3-2 score. In the fourth contest the score was finally something different, but the result was again an A's win. Pitcher Ken Holtzman hit an unlikely home run in the third, and pinch-hitter Jim Holt's bases-loaded single broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth as Oakland won it 5-2.

For the first time since their run began, the A's didn't require a Game 7 to close out the World Series. Joe Rudi's seventh-inning homer in Game 5 gave the A's their final lead and they went on to win (appropriately) by a score of 3-2. Rollie Fingers was named MVP for his 9.1 innings of ace relief work and two saves. Second baseman Dick Green, though hitless in the Series, was the star on defense, participating in six double plays.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

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