Ranking baseball’s general managers for 2018: Part 3

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: General Manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics sits in the clubhouse prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 13, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 7-6. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: General Manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics sits in the clubhouse prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 13, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 7-6. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 05: Oakland A’s general manager David Forst speaks during a press conference on Oct. 5, 2018, at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images) /

T-7. David Forst, Oakland A’s, +2.5 games

Because Oakland did so well with so little in the way of financial resources, the assumption is that an A’s front office occupant – either Forst or his boss, Billy Beane, will be named American League Executive of the Year. While a few GMs did have better seasons, Forst’s was good enough to justify the praise flowing his way.

The truth is that the A’s were going to be good in 2018 no matter what Forst did. The heart of the team – Jed Lowrie, Blake Treinen, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Marcus Semien and Sean Manaea, were all securely under contract before Forst did anything. In fact his most  significant move was a departure, the trade of Ryon Healy to Seattle for a pair of minor leaguers.

The minor leaguers may or may not ever do anything for the A’s, but Healy’s departure cleared the way for Chapman and Olson to blossom at third and first. It was a clear case of addition by subtraction.

Forst attacked outfield gaps in piecemeal, but effective fashion. The trade for Stephen Piscotty brought power (27 home runs) and a competent .267 average. Ramon Laureano came over from Houston for a minor leaguer and hit .288 in part-time use. Career minor leaguer Nick Martini found a platoon home in left and batted .296. The sum of those three under-the-radar acquisitions: +2.9 WAA.

What Forst did with the rotation, torn apart by injuries, amounted to a survival exercise. Still, bargain-basement free agents Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson and Brett Anderson gave the team 54 starts and a cumulative +0.8 WAA, meaning they fulfilled the prime directive of not getting in the way.

Put it all together and the result is a playoff team.