To an outsider, the 2012 A's season may not seem extraordinary.
They did win the AL West by one game, but then lost the ALDS by one game to Detroit.
However - for those of you who lived through that summer of six years ago, I need not explain how it was one of the most magical baseball seasons on record.
The A's had recently repositioned their roster for the future. Out of Spring Training, they would have been content with a .500 season. But all of a sudden: character, relentlessness, and wins began emerging at the same time.
Fast forward to 2018, and it's almost surreal that comparisons are being made.
But are they accurate?
Here are a couple points to consider.
1- The end of 2011 didn't necessarily show a ton of promise. Yes, Bob Melvin had just arrived mid-season, but the A's had also parted ways with a ton of known commodities that Winter following their 74-88 finish. That's a sharp contrast to the 2017 A's who also underwent significant change in-season, but still finished their second half just one game under a .500 record. Needless to say, the current A's are less of a competitive surprise, even at the current point of 21 more wins than losses.
2- In 2012, the A's were great, but also caught some breaks. More than just Josh Hamilton dropping that ball in center field of Game 162. The Rangers coughed up a substantial hold on the division over the course of months. Consider June 10, 2012 - Texas was in first at 35-26, with Oakland in last at the exact inverse, 26-35. This "outside help" factor is something we don't yet know about 2018. The Mariners were surging through May and June, but now have seemed to find planet Earth once more. And now, the Astros can't catch a break on injuries, including most of their top players. Again, we don't know how this part will continue to play out, but…it's interesting right now.
3- The 2012 A's had that "it" factor. Okay, fine, they had the Bernie Lean, which was the product of veteran spark plugs like Brandon Inge, Grant Balfour, Jonny Gomes and Coco Crisp. And while this group may not put that same curve in their backs, they do take the field each night with a significant amount of swag. Matt Chapman's defense. Khris Davis' bat. Blake Treinen's turbo sinker. This team has developed it's calling cards of winning, and probably has even more ways to beat an opponent than in 2012, when the walk-off was heavily relied on.
4- The Bob Melvin factor. You better believe it. He is the constant thread between 2012 and 2018, two seasons where his team is seemingly never out of games. Trailing by two into the fifth inning? No problem, that's one swing of the bat. Take notice of where Bob spends a majority of the time in the dugout. Not sitting. Not leaning. Standing. Subconsciously he's sending a message to his players. In the time since their last playoff appearance, they've always made even the losing games interesting before they end.
5- Back in 2012, there seemed to be a lot of potential "out points." Moments where things could take that ultimate turn for the worse. Bartolo Colon's suspension on August 22nd. Brandon McCarthy's line drive to the skull on September 5th. And the A's losing 6 of 8 in the second half of September. This season has been much of the same, but from earlier standpoints: Four starters currently shut down with Tommy John procedures. Mid-season injuries to Chapman (thumb), and Davis (groin). And at some point, it wouldn't be shocking to see this team divert from their 33-10 pace. (They're humans, and it's baseball). But that resilience we saw in 2012… that "let's just see where this goes" mentality could prove to be the most beneficial approach. Back then it was, "get to .500", then "hang on to a Wild Card", and ultimately, "Holy Toledo, we can win the division tomorrow". Have you ever heard the saying "History repeats itself"?