In 1989, the World Series made headlines by being delayed by a 6.9 Magnitude earthquake, the first World Series sweep in 13 years, and a matchup between two teams that lie directly adjacent from one another, connected by a bridge.
Following the sweep of the San Francisco Giants by the Oakland Athletics, the Bay Area has had a large amount of success since overall. The Giants have won two championships, and the A’s have experienced regular periods of playoff success and contention, albeit lacking a World Series appearance. In 2014, that is poised to change.
The Giants have taken home two World Series titles in the past four years, and have come back to look dominant in the NL West once again. Being led by a strong rotation headlined by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, both who hold sub 4.00 ERA’s, helping immensely with opportunity from a much improved offense. With the Giants sitting at a stellar 35-19 and 6.5 games ahead of the 2nd place Rockies and Dodgers, San Francisco is in good company. With Pablo Sandoval finally heating up, and with the support of a balanced, contact-based lineup, the Giants perhaps have the most consistent collection of hitters in the MLB.
The Giants have also proven to be extremely successful on the road, which is even more vital when having a sellout crowd for every home game. Carrying a 15-10 road record has led the Giants to become a surprising factor in the NL West, when the Dodgers were the expected front-runner.
On the inland side of the bay, a perhaps even more dominant team has emerged. Coming off of two straight division championships, the Oakland Athletics have fielded their strongest team yet, and in terms of scoring runs are in a completely different league. With an insane +100 run differential and a dominant 18-10 road record, the budget-friendly A’s have stormed into the World Series favorite discussion.
Despite only leading their division by 1.5 games, the A’s are 2nd in MLB in OBP and 3rd in Runs Scored, having a threat throughout all nine lineup spots. The team is offensively anchored by Josh Donaldson, who continues to perform very well after finishing 4th in AL MVP voting last year. With consistent help from Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris, the A’s are a large all-around threat, and will be difficult to beat come playoff time.
Yet even looking past their explosive offense, Oakland’s pitching staff has been a substantial part to the stellar run differential. Young ace of the staff Sonny Gray has amassed a 2.31 ERA through 11 starts, and has anchored a very well rounded, consistent Oakland rotation. Gray is followed by Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez in the rotation, both of whom also hold ERA’s under 2.80. Even though the A’s lead in the division is quite small, there may not be an overall more complete team than the Oakland A’s.
Completion in general, is what wins teams championships. Neither of these teams possess the dynamic offense of the Colorado Rockies, or the stellar strikeout oriented pitching staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but both have found an incredible balance to make themselves competitors.
While it is only May, the Bay Area is dominating baseball. Barring major injuries, it would be difficult to see that change during the course of the 2014 season.