OAKLAND -- It's difficult to target an MVP on this 2012 A's squad, what with so many moving parts and a constant rotation of key contributions.
And though health hasn't been on his side for parts of the season, table setter Coco Crisp is worth a mention in these conversations, given his significance at the top of an ever-changing lineup.
"He's been unbelievable," manager Bob Melvin said. "I've said all along, not only is he the guy that ignites us, he's the guy that hits good pitching late in the games for us. We just feed off him. He does more than what a leadoff guy, what his role, is considered to be."
Before his return Friday, Crisp had missed the majority of the previous two weeks with pink eye. He was essentially restricted from all baseball activity during most of that time, but has gone 7-for-10 since returning, most recently collecting four hits on Saturday.
"Unbelievable," Melvin said. "He looks like he's been playing 15 days in a row. It doesn't look like he's sat out, and that's the most difficult thing, having your edge when you come back. He's one of those guys that, no matter how long he's out, he gets back into the swing of things quickly."
Crisp's continued production, not only at the plate but on the bases -- where he's collected 37 stolen bases -- is essential to Oakland's winning recipe in the final four games of the regular season.
"No doubt," Melvin said.
Melvin enjoying new Wild Card format
OAKLAND -- Consider A's manager Bob Melvin a supporter of the new Wild Card format.
At a time like this, when his club is holding on to that second Wild Card spot, it's hard for him not to be. But forget about the selfish reasons. Melvin enjoys what it's doing to the game.
"I wasn't sure about it at first, I just didn't know how it would play out, but now you look at it, especially in our league, it's creating a lot more drama," Melvin said Sunday. "There are more cities, more fans that are excited about their teams at this point in the season, and I think that's a good thing.
"I think it's good for baseball. It's a different dynamic than you've ever seen before. Therefore more teams are involved, and it's pretty exciting from a standpoint in the American League."
Entering Sunday, no AL team had clinched its division, and eight remained in play for a postseason berth. It's complete chaos, and the A's -- 2 1/2 games behind Texas in the AL West but 2 1/2 above the Angels in the WC standings -- are embracing it.
"I think it's actually good for us, because you start looking at other teams and how many things are involved and so forth, and if it was just one you'd start focusing on that one team and it would just become a distraction," he said. "The fact that there are several teams involved and nothing's secured, I think it's good for our philosophy, which is, 'Let's come out here and win today's game and we'll add them up a little later.'"
His club's win total could equate to a spot in a one-game Wild Card playoff, and while Melvin would prefer avoiding it in favor of the division crown, he's on board with baseball's do-or-die format.
"I don't know how else you can do that," he said. "I think the fans like that do-or-die game, and I think baseball recognized that, and that's why you see a second Wild Card team."
A's lefty Jordan Norberto, stationed on the disabled list since Aug. 21 with shoulder tendinitis, is playing catch on a regular basis but has still yet to throw off the mound.
"Once he does that and goes after it a bit harder, we'll probably have a better idea," Melvin said.
At this point, Norberto is unlikely to be available for the early rounds of the playoffs, should the A's participate.
A's lefty Brett Anderson (right oblique) is on track to throw a bullpen session on Monday. If all goes well during that session, Anderson could possibly be considered to start a potential one-game Wild Card playoff on Friday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.