It was mid-summer, and I was tweeting about the difficulty of narrowing down the A's MVP candidates to date, since there were just so many amazing contributions. But perhaps the most poignant response unexpectedly came from Oakland pitcher Chris Bassitt:
That's an extremely easy answer... Bo Mel.— Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419) August 15, 2018
Consider Bob Melvin's multiyear contract extension as one of the biggest no-brainers this baseball offseason.
There are just 30 big league managing jobs. If that's your profession, you don't necessarily get the choice of which specific opportunities open up when the time comes. Sometimes, it's just a job. Other times, it's a rooted passion.
And that's what makes Melvin's fit with the A's so special.
Since mid-2011, when Melvin took over, it always has felt like Oakland is the team he is destined to manage. Seven full seasons later, he still regularly comments about the great pride that exists in putting on the green and gold jersey.
That's not just because he's a Bay Area native, and a Cal product, and a loyal human being. It's also due to the unconventional nature of the last eight seasons of A's baseball.
Melvin has worn both hats well: steering playoff-bound teams of 2012, '13, '14 and '18. But also navigating through the lean seasons of 2015, '16 and '17 while continuing to get the most out of his groups.
I've always maintained that in both greater and lesser seasons for Oakland, Melvin routinely has been accountable for five to seven wins per campaign. You can quantify that in areas such as pinch-hitting selections, or bullpen usage over 162 games. But perhaps his biggest contribution is not even tangible: keeping an entire roster of players happy, loose and bought-in.
So, as much as fans are happy with the retention of Melvin past 2019, I can tell you players in the A's clubhouse are equally excited.