By: Chris Larson
Say what you want about Alex Cora and the tremendous amount of success that the Boston Red Sox have experienced this season, there is no denying the fact that Bob Melvin has had a substantial influence on the Oakland A's and is one of the many reasons why the team has been such a great surprise this year. Going into this season, no one could have seen the success that Oakland has experienced or could have even predicted that the A's would make the postseason, let alone challenge the reigning World Series Champion, Houston Astros, for the AL West crown.
Those things happened and are a big reason why the game is played out on grass instead of on paper among experts and fans alike throughout the game, who try to use their gut, to predict what will happen. While Oakland likely won't finish ahead of the Astros for the AL West title, stranger things have happened and with the chemistry, charisma, and passion that the A's have played with all season long, anything is possible, especially considering the influence that Bob Melvin has had on the team.
Bob Melvin has long been considered to be one of the greatest managers in the game and has done a tremendous job over the years of helping the A's to remain competitive, although the A's, don't have nearly the same amount of resources or payroll as other teams around the league. In fact, you could easily make the argument that the Oakland A's are the Tampa Bay Rays of the west coast, as both teams rely heavily on in-house scouting and keeping payroll at a minimum, thanks to smaller revenue stream shares and attendance numbers that can sometimes be below league average.
However, considering all of those challenges this season and the fact that the Oakland A's have experienced quite a few substantial injuries in their starting rotation, Bob Melvin has still found a way to keep the A's in contention and pushed them into a postseason berth. That is one of the biggest challenges for a manager and if you're looking for a Manager of the Year candidate, that should certainly be one of the qualities you look for. A successful manager should be able to help lead their team to successfully win whether they have a Corey Kluber on their squad or someone like Edwin Jackson, who has basically found his old self once again.
Beyond that, if you need more to add to the argument about Bob Melvin's influence on the team, look no further than the chemistry that the A's display on the field during games. No team in the league, it seems, this year has strived more in late innings during ballgames and pushed for comeback wins, then the Oakland A's have. Sure, the players play a huge part in how well a team's offense does during those situations and whether or not the team ends up coming back to win the game, but the manager also plays a vital role as well.
During those situations, the manager has to provide enough energy in the dugout, for players to buy into the fact that they can come back and eclipse the win, while ensuring that he puts the right player in the right spot to give the team the best chance for that to happen. All season long, there has been numerous occasions where that has happened and the A's have found a way to either claw their way back into a game or walk-off a game. That's because of the brilliant in-game planning strategies of Bob Melvin and the chemistry that has been developed around the A's core players.
Finally, while the Boston Red Sox have the best record in all of baseball and certainly in the American League, the Manager of the Year should go towards a manager who has done something substantial and caught the entire industry off guard because people didn't see what happened coming down the pipeline. That is exactly how the Oakland A's have played this year and will likely continue to play into the postseason.
A manager has a huge influence on a team's style of play and the Oakland A's have played this season in a way that few other teams can rival. They have a starting rotation that can get the job done when asked upon, a very deep bullpen, and both an offense and a defense that keeps the team energized, focused, and confident that they will be able to pull off a win, series win, or even a sweep. The entire coaching staff plays a part into each little sector of a team's play, but the manager is the captain of the ship and has the most influence and power of each individual. In this case, a lot of the Oakland A's style of play can be credited to Bob Melvin and his ability to lead at a high level.
While this might not be the year that the Oakland A's make it to the World Series or even come out of the AL Wild Card game, anything is possible with this team, especially come October, based off of how they have played all year long and the Bob Melvin effect. Regardless, the Oakland A's have had a magical season that no one could have seen coming and one that has featured many special moments, courtesy of a skipper who knows how to get the most out of his players, how to plan for different in-game situations, and how to keep every player energized over the long 162-game season.