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Cut4 2014 Postseason Primer: Oakland Athletics

From 30 World Series hopefuls, only a few remain. In case you haven't been following every contender, here's a catch-up on what you missed and what to expect next. In this edition: The Oakland Athletics.

Also: BALDET | KC | LAA | LAD | PIT | SF | STL | WAS

After a hot first half and 140 days atop their division, the A's went 22-28 in August and September, creating doubts as to whether they'd see the postseason at all. But come on, do you think Brad Pitt would let that happen?

bradpitt

In true Academy Award-winning narrative structure, the A's waited until the last game of the regular season to clinch a postseason spot. Here's a look at what finally got them there. 

5. Beard magic

Sure, a lot of teams are superstitious about their facial hair. But the A's are the only team consciously using it as a conduit for win-producing witchcraft. Behold Sean Doolittle's beard vortex or Josh Reddick's beard-stroking, walk-off summoning spells:

beardmagic

Access to that kind of power is a great responsibility, only to be used for the bettering of humanity and making deep postseason runs. 

4. Keeping us on our toes at the trade deadline

When we were all pleasantly cocooned in our beds on the morning of July 31, Billy Beane was making phone calls. Before most of us had even made our coffee, much less had time to spit it out in shock, he had moved Yoenis Cespedes for Jonny Gomes and Jon Lester:

And Lester has not disappointed. In 11 starts for Oakland, the lefty has posted a 2.35 ERA and a K/9 of 8.3. In what could be dramatic foreshadowing, here he is striking out nine over six innings in Kansas City back in August:

As for Jonny Gomes? (See -- beard magic):

Plus, there's also this other guy they picked up earlier in July with a 3.14 ERA and 99 strikeouts over 111.2 innings pitched -- Jeff Samardj -- Samarji - Samardysg --

shark

Well, anyway, he's pretty great:

3. Josh Reddick's sultry walk-up music

In May, Josh Reddick starting walking up to the plate to the sax intro of Wham!'s "Careless Whisper," sending fans into transports of delight. Or whatever this is:

careless1

It even made some of the Oakland faithful rediscover their love of music (read: decide not to donate that old marching band instrument after all): 

realsaxandlovesounds

2. The support of the animal kingdom

Sure, human fans are great -- they have opposable thumbs and the ability to hold signs - but they're so easy to trick: 

sonnygray

Perhaps because of some kind of cross-species sympathy or because Sean Doolittle can talk to animals, the A's fan base spans the range of the mammalian kingdom, from the great:

stomper

To the small:

possum

For no other team would a possum befriend a shark:

But when the A's traded for slugger Adam Dunn, they lost touch with their monkey fanbase:

Not sure how Dunn's gonna make up for that: 

1. The rise of Josh Donaldson

Quick, according to Baseball Reference, who's second in WAR only to Mike Trout? Okay, the heading of this section might have given the answer away, so you get three guesses and the first two don't count. If stats aren't your thing, here's some anecdotal evidence:

walkoffhr

dive

Donaldson, who was drafted as a catcher, seems to be taking to the hot corner pretty well. With 20 Defensive Runs Saved and a 15.4 UZR, he's the best defensive third baseman in the American League:   

He's so good, he barely has to try to defend himself from pies: 

pie

So, what can we expect from the A's this October? A few predictions:

"Careless Whisper" will put the entire opposing team into a new wave trance, leading them to shamble around the outfield like smooth jazz zombies, unable to field anything Josh Reddick hits their way.

Each member of the A's lineup will hit a hole-in-one home run, completing an entire round of long distance mini-golf before the postseason is over. 

Coco Crisp will develop an entire second face on the back of his head, and the phrase "no-look" catch will lose all meaning to him. He will disorient the home plate umpire so completely that no ball pitched to him will be called a strike. He might also succeed in retrieving the sorcerer's stone, immortalizing the A's current lineup and playing in every postseason until the implosion of the sun.