The Texas Rangers had been to two straight World Series and the Los Angeles Angels brought in Albert Pujols.
The American League West was expected to be a two-team race from the start in 2012.
No one counted on the Oakland A’s winning 20 more games in 2011 to win the division on the regular season’s last day.
The team finished with a final record of 94–68, claiming first place in the West and reaching the postseason for the first time since 2006. After winning their last game of the season, they took sole possession of the division for the first time all year, overtaking the Rangers.
The A’s had trailed Texas by 13 games on June 30, and had a five-game deficit with nine days left in the season. The 2012 team, which led the league with 15 walk-off wins, managed this with the lowest payroll in baseball, at $59.5 million.
Now, Oakland has to prove it all over again.
“I think we proved last year that if we do things in the right fashion, we have a chance to win,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re the defending division champs, and I think if you ask other teams within our division if they’re worried about us, there’s probably some that will say yes based on what we did last year.”
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the A’s have their spring training games, is a good option for Ahwatukee baseball fans, but apparently not for long.
The A’s are reportedly close to moving to Mesa’s HoHoKam Stadium for the 2015 season after the Cubs move to their new facility in 2014.
The stadium won’t go vacant even if a team isn’t lured from Florida to replace the A’s as Arizona State has signed a 25-year lease with the ballpark to host the Sun Devil home games in 2015.
“All operating expenses are going to be covered by them,” Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio told reporters. “Essentially you have an individual who is coming in and picking up all the costs, and they’re taking an asset off of our books that’s been a cost to the taxpayer.”
For now though, Oakland is the home team and there will be no surprising anyone in 2013.
Fans can catch up with plenty of former D-backs (Chris Young, Jarrod Parker, Jordan Norberto) and Sun Devils (Eric Sogard) while watching a future star in Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes before Oakland embarks on trying to defend last year’s unlikely division title.
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