The Athletics have not qualified for the postseason since 2006, the year Frank Thomas went from DH flier to MVP candidate by hitting .270/.381/.545 with 39 homers. Oakland comes into today in a virtual four-way tie for one of the two AL Wild Card spots, and they've won 34 of 51 games (.667) over the last two calendar months. They lead the league with 13 walk-off wins.
GM Billy Beane swung two of the best trades of the offseason by acquiring Josh Reddick (for Andrew Bailey) and Jarrod Parker (for Trevor Cahill). Reddick is hitting .257/.330/.510 with 25 homers while Parker has pitched to a 3.55 ERA in 19 starts. Tommy Milone, who came over in the Gio Gonzalez trade, has a 3.91 ERA in 22 starts. Add in a strong performance from bargain signing Bartolo Colon (3.38 ERA in 22 starts) and big performance from big money signing Yoenis Cespedes (.307/.368/.515 with 14 homers), and you have arguably the best Athletics team in the last six years.
The A's are currently in second place in the AL West but sit just a half-game ahead of the Angels. They're 5.5 back of the Rangers. To finish with their first winning season since 2006, they'll need to win at least 22 of their final 50 games. That seems like the easy part considering the tough competition for a playoff berth.