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11/03/2008 1:40 PM ET
2008 Oakland Athletics highlights
OAKLAND -- Both on and off the field, the Oakland Athletics made strides in 2008.
Despite initiating a youth movement that saw them employ an Oakland record 21 rookies this past season, the A's (75-86) came within one game of matching last year's victory total (76-86). They accomplished this while also dramatically replenishing their minor league system with top prospects through offseason and in-season trades involving Oakland veteran players.
Led by a starting rotation and bullpen comprised primarily of Major League rookies, the A's pitching staff surprisingly excelled in 2008. They tied for fourth in the American League with a 4.01 ERA, and allowed the second fewest home runs (135) in the league. Remarkably, 58 of their 161 games (36%) were started by a rookie in 2008. And in relief, the A's bullpen ranked second in ERA (3.50), and tied for third in fewest home runs allowed (44) and most victories (27) among American League teams.
Justin Duchscherer was named to the American League All-Star Team after making a successful transition from reliever to starting pitcher this season. He registered a 10-8 record and 2.54 ERA in 141.2 innings before his season ended prematurely due to a hip injury. The "Duke" limited opposing batters to a .210 batting average.
The one-two rookie reliever tandem of Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine were equally impressive in 2008. Ziegler, who set a modern Major League record by opening his career with 39.0 consecutive scoreless innings, led all Major League relievers with a 1.06 ERA and tied for the ML lead with 20 grounded into double plays. Devine also was a record-setter in 2008, setting a new Major League mark for ERA among pitchers with 25 or more innings pitched with a miniscule 0.59 figure, and also establishing an Oakland record for most innings (45.2) in a season without allowing a home run.
Even though six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez was limited to 23 games this year due to an injured shoulder, Oakland's defense still committed only 98 errors, which marked the fifth straight year the A's have finished below 100 errors in a season. They become only the second team in Major League history to accomplish that feat, joining the Philadelphia Phillies, who also reeled off five consecutive sub-100 error campaigns from 2001-05.
Beyond pitching and defense, the A's also exhibited speed on the base paths. Oakland was successful in 88 of its 109 stolen base attempts, which was the best percentage (.807) in the American League and second best mark in the majors. The .807 success rate is also an Oakland record, while the club's 88 stolen bases are the most by an A's team since 1998. Paving the way was reserve outfielder Rajai Davis, who swiped 29 stolen bases (25 with Oakland, 4 with San Francisco) in only 226 plate appearances, which tied him for fourth most in Major League history (since 1900) among players with fewer than 250 plate appearances.
This past season, the A's also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the franchise playing in Oakland. As part of the celebration, the Athletics orchestrated an online public voting campaign on the club's website to determine a 40th Anniversary Team. The commemorative team included three members of Baseball's Hall of Fame-pitchers Jim "Catfish" Hunter and Dennis Eckersley and outfielder Reggie Jackson-and other possible future Hall of Famer selections, including outfielder Rickey Henderson, Major League Baseball's all-time leader in runs scored and stolen bases, who is eligible for Cooperstown next year. Other members of the team included catcher Terry Steinbach, first baseman Mark McGwire, second baseman Mark Ellis, shortstop Bert "Campy" Campaneris, third baseman Carney Lansford, outfielder Joe Rudi, designated hitter Dave Kingman, pitchers Vida Blue and Dave Stewart, and manager Tony LaRussa.
And off the field, the Oakland A's Community Fund supported more than 1,500 charitable organizations through monetary contributions and donated auction items and tickets this season in their efforts to support charitable organizations in improving the quality of life for people throughout the Bay Area. Specifically, to fund endeavors to improve educational programs, aid the underprivileged, assist in crime and drug prevention, promote health awareness, and champion children and senior welfare. The A's Community Fund believes in the need to invest in the community's future. The A's Community Fund donated approximately $650,000 to various community programs.
2008 Team & Individual Accomplishments
2008 Organizational Accomplishments
- Despite initiating a youth movement that saw them employ an Oakland record 21 rookies this season, the A's (75-86) came within one game of matching last year's victory total (76-86)....the Athletics accomplished this while also dramatically replenishing their farm system with top prospects through offseason and in-season trades involving Oakland veteran players.
- Considered one of baseball's biggest surprises of the early season, the A's opened the campaign with a 51-42 record and trailed the first place Los Angeles Angels by only four games in the American League West standings on July 11 (two days before the All-Star Break).
- The Athletics pitching staff led the Major Leagues in pickoffs (36) this season, which tied for the third highest total in baseball since the statistic was first tracked in 1987....only the 1992 Atlanta Braves (39) and 1997 New York Yankees (37) have registered more pickoffs in a season.
- Oakland's pitchers tied for fourth in the American League in ERA (4.01), while the A's staff allowed the second fewest home runs (135) in the AL this year....the Athletics' pitching numbers are even more impressive considering 58 of their 161 games (36%) were started by a rookie....since 1984, the only A's team with more games started by rookie pitchers is the 1996 club, which combined for 62.
- The A's bullpen appeared among the American League leaders in several categories this season, fashioning the second lowest ERA (3.50), tying for third in most victories (27) and fewest home runs allowed (44).
- With 98 errors this year, the A's became only the second team in Major League history to commit fewer than 100 errors in five consecutive seasons....the Philadelphia Phillies are the other club, accomplished from 2001-05.
- Oakland was successful in 88 of its 109 stolen base attempts, which was the best percentage (.807) in the American League and second best in the majors....it also is the best mark in Oakland history ahead of the 2003 club (48 for 62, 77.4%)...the 88 steals are the A's most in a season since 1998 (131).
- A's opponents were successful on only 63.1% (70 for 111) of their stolen base attempts, which was the lowest percentage in the American League and the second lowest in the majors.
- Starting pitcher Justin Duchscherer was named to the American League All-Star Team for the second time in his career. He posted a 10-8 record and 2.54 ERA in 141.2 innings of work but had his season cut short by a hip injury. Duchscherer held opposing hitters to a .210 batting average.
- Reliever Joey Devine set a Major League ERA record among pitchers with 25 or more innings pitched, as his 0.59 ERA shaded the previous mark held by another Athletic, Dennis Eckersley, which was 0.61 in 1990.....the earned run became an official statistic 86 years ago (the National League in 1912, the American League in 1913)....Devine did not allow an earned run in his last 26 appearances (26.1 innings).
- Devine limited opposing hitters to a .150 average (23 for 153), which was the second lowest among American League relievers and third lowest in the majors....it was also the second lowest in Oakland history to Jim Roland's .134 in 1970.
Devine set an Oakland record for most innings pitched in a season without allowing a home run....he did not allow a round-tripper in 42 games and 45.2 innings this year, and has gone 61 games and 60.0 innings since serving up his last home run on April 7, 2006 at San Francisco (Moises Alou)....the old Oakland mark was held by Vida Blue, who reeled off 38.2 innings without a home run in 1970.
- Reliever Brad Ziegler led all (qualified) Major League relievers with a 1.06 ERA and tied for the ML lead with 20 grounded into double plays.
- Ziegler's career opening scoreless streak of 39.0 innings this year set three records and tied another:
It set the modern Major League record (since 1900) to start a career.
It established a new American League record for a rookie and tied for second longest in Major League history (tying Christy Mathewson and trailing Grover Alexander, 41.0).
It broke the Oakland team record.
It tied the modern Major League record for the longest single season streak by a reliever (39.0 by Al Benton in 1949, Cleveland).
His remarkable 39.0 scoreless streak was also the third longest in Athletics franchise history (53.0, Jack Coombs in 1910; 43.2, Rube Waddell in 1905).
- Rookie left-handed pitcher Greg Smith picked off 16 base runners during the season, which tied the Major League record since pickoffs were first tracked in 1987....he shares the record with Charlie Hough (Texas, 1988), Charlie Liebrandt (Atlanta, 1992) and Terry Mulholland (Philadelphia, 1992).
- Homering eight times in September and in four of his last seven games of the season, Jack Cust finished with a career-high 33 home runs in 2008....his 33 figure tied for sixth most in the American League, only four shy of the AL leader Miguel Cabrera (Detroit, 37).
- Cust also led the American League in walks (111) and ranked second in the AL in pitches per plate appearance (4.37).
- Rajai Davis had 29 stolen bases (25 with Oakland, 4 with San Francisco) in 226 plate appearances, which tied him for fourth most in Major League history (since 1900) among players with fewer than 250 plate appearances.
- Alan Embree made 70 relief appearances this year, raising his career game total to 846, which ties him for 33rd on the Major League career games pitched list....he also now has 10 consecutive seasons with at least 60 appearances, making him one of seven pitchers in Major League history to accomplish that (Lee Smith and Mike Myers, 12; Jose Mesa, Mike Timlin, Steve Kline and David Weathers, 10).
- In his first full Major League season, Kurt Suzuki led all American League catchers in innings caught (1,215), games (141) and games started (136).
- Suzuki also tied Jack Cust for the team lead in most games played (148), marking the first time a catcher has led the A's in games played in 19 years (Jeff Newman, 1979).
- With a .993 fielding percentage, Mark Ellis led all Major League second basemen in fielding in 2008. It marked the second time in three years that Ellis has finished first in the majors in fielding percentage at his position.
- On August 9 in Detroit, Frank Thomas hit his 521st career home run, which ties him for 18th place on baseball's all-time home run list with Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Willie McCovey.
- Huston Street posted a career-high seven victories this year, which tied him for third among American League relievers.
- Bobby Crosby hit 39 doubles this season, which is tied for the ninth best single season total in Oakland history.
- The Oakland A's Community Fund supported more than 1,500 charitable organizations through monetary contributions and donated auction items and tickets this season in their efforts to support charitable organizations in improving the quality of life for people throughout the Bay Area. Specifically, to fund endeavors to improve educational programs, aid the underprivileged, assist in crime and drug prevention, promote health awareness, and champion children and senior welfare. The A's Community Fund believes in the need to invest in the community's future. The A's Community Fund donated approximately $650,000 to various community programs.
- On September 13, the A's raised $116,750 on Breast Cancer Awareness Day with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and Northern California Cancer Center. Over the past 10 years, the A's Breast Cancer Awareness Day has raised over $1,000,000 for breast cancer education and research. Funds were raised through the sale of special ticket packages, commemorative pins and hats and an A's autographed quilt raffle. In addition, as a part of "A Gift of Faith" grant, the A's donated $5,000 to the Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center in memory of longtime KTVU Channel 2 reporter, the late Faith Fancher. A's Breast Cancer Awareness Day was presented by Olay Skin Care and additional sponsors included Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Contra Costa Times, Chevron, Comcast, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Ross Dress For Less and State Roofing Systems.
- The A's raised over $30,000 at the Ninth Annual MUG Root Beer Float Day on July 30 with proceeds benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Funds were raised through the sale of root beer floats, tips given in exchange for autographs and pictures with the celebrity scoopers, the sale of autographed mugs, a silent auction of sports memorabilia and an on-line auction titled "Be a Celebrity Scooper." Since 2003, the A's have raised over $245,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation through MUG Root Beer Float Day. MUG Root Beer Float Day was sponsored by Pepsi. The ice cream for the event was donated by Dreyer's.
- On July 26, the A's raised over $100,000 at the Third Annual Dinner on the Diamond with proceeds benefiting the Oakland A's Community Fund and the Painted Turtle. Funds were raised through the sale of sponsorship packages and a live auction. A's Dinner on the Diamond was sponsored by the Wolff family and Fisher family.
- The Oakland A's Community Fund Golf Classic held on May 22 at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, raised more than $100,000 for the A's Community Fund through the tournament and silent and live auctions. Chevron and State Roofing Systems of San Leandro were the title sponsors of the event and presenting sponsors included Aquafina and Union Bank of California.
- Prior to the season, over 12,488 fans attended the A's annual FanFest which raised funds for the Oakland A's Community Fund and the fight against childhood obesity through autograph and photo sessions, batting cage tours, clubhouse tours and the sale of game worn jerseys from current and former players. A's FanFest 2008 was presented by Sports Gallery and additional sponsors included Aloha Airlines, Central Garden & Pet, Plan-It Interactive and ROSS Dress for Less and the media sponsors are the Oakland Tribune and TV36.
- The A's Community Fund held silent auctions of various sports memorabilia on all Saturday and Sunday home dates. The A's Community Fund donated over $70,000 to various charity groups that received a portion of the proceeds as a silent auction partners on selected dates throughout the season.
- The A's Community Fund contributed $40,000 to the restoration of West Oakland's historic Ernie Raimondi Park. Raimondi Park, one of the five most-used parks in Oakland and the largest park in the area underwent a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation this year.
- The Second Annual Dave Stewart/Oakland A's High School Baseball Showdown, hosted by De La Salle High School and the A's Community Fund, took place on April 26 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The event featured games between local high schools and an appearance by former A's pitcher Dave Stewart in hopes of promoting youth interaction at the high school level. The event raised $37,000 through ticket sales, sponsorships packages, scoreboard messages and signage and will benefit Oakland inner-city youth programs, including the Oakland Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and "Pick up a Ball, Pick up a Book" education program.
- The Ken Korach "A's Winning for the Community" Program raised $24,000 to the Oakland Athletic League high school baseball programs, to fund equipment, uniforms and field maintenance. Funds were raised through donations by A's radio play-by-play announcer Ken Korach and the A's Community Fund for each A's win this season, in addition to fan donations and corporate sponsorship.
- Over 16,000 students in 93 Bay Area schools participated in the A's Home Run Readers program, during the 2007-08 school year. Forty-five schools reached their goals and 20 schools received a visit from a member of the A's front office and the A's mascot Stomper. Six of those schools received a visit from an A's player or coach to congratulate the students for reaching their goals and to encourage them to continue reading outside of the classroom. The program concluded with A's Home Run Readers Day on May 29 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Home Run Readers program was sponsored by the California Police Youth Charities and is supported NASDAQ and the A's Community Fund.
- The A's designed and distributed over 22,000 "Mathletics" workbooks which utilize simple formulas for calculating statistics of A's players to students in hopes to promote the importance of math among Bay Area youth. Both workbooks were also available online at oaklandathletics.com. Students who completed their workbooks correctly and submitted the answer sheet to the A's received two ticket vouchers. In addition, one school that demonstrated outstanding participation in the program received a visit from A's catcher Kurt Suzuki. Since the program's inception in 2003, over 135,000 Bay Area and Northern California students' grades first through eighth have participated. The "Mathletics" program was sponsored by Ross Dress For Less.
- The A's Amigos program gave Hispanic children the opportunity to speak with an A's player about the importance of education, sportsmanship and hard work. In addition to the pregame visit, each child received a game ticket and an A's hat. The A's Amigos program was sponsored by Kelly-Moore Paints.
- The A's Baseball Basics program allowed 130 aspiring young ball players in the Bay Area to receive inside tips from an A's player during a pregame clinic. In addition, each child received a game ticket and an A's hat. A's Baseball Basics was sponsored by Health Net, A Better Decision.
- Over 10,000 children from low to moderate-income families were treated to A's games as part of the Little A's program. In addition to a game ticket, each child received an A's pin and pennant. The Little A's program is sponsored by Union Bank of California and supported by Clorox.