OAKLAND -- The A's ushered in a youth movement in 2017, pivoting from plans to compete when it became clear that doing so would not be their reality. Consequently, several veterans exited via trade, allowing the club to prioritize playing time for many prospects.Youthful energy revitalized these A's, who performed
OAKLAND -- The A's ushered in a youth movement in 2017, pivoting from plans to compete when it became clear that doing so would not be their reality. Consequently, several veterans exited via trade, allowing the club to prioritize playing time for many prospects.
Youthful energy revitalized these A's, who performed admirably in the second half to close out their third consecutive last-place season. Along the way, noteworthy happenings were bookmarked.
• Youth movement to continue for A's this winter
1. A's announce plans to build new ballpark
On Sept. 13, the A's publicized plans to build a privately financed new stadium near Oakland's Laney College, ending months of speculation. On the same day, they announced a timeline that has them breaking ground in 2021 and opening in '23. The Coliseum, they hope, will eventually be transformed into a multi-use sports complex and an Urban Youth Academy. But the A's are embarking down a path of great resistance, with several potential issues requiring attention before they can bring out the shovels: Infrastructure and gentrification concerns are among them.
2. "No doubt about it" committed to rebuild
The A's had long shied away from pledging to a rebuild, resisting to resort to such a drastic plan under executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane's watch. But a shift in tone followed July's trades of veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, largely because visions of a new stadium are becoming clearer. Relying mostly on homegrown talent, the A's expect to be competitive when a new ballpark opens.
3. Olson homers in five straight for record
Matt Olson solidified his status as one of the game's rising stars, gaining widespread attention in a memorable September that saw him homer in five consecutive games for a franchise rookie record. It also made Olson the first player in franchise history with 15 home runs in a 21-game span; and his 23 home runs in his first 66 games are most by any A's player. Mark McGwire had 22, while Jose Canseco tallied 16.
4. Don't forget about Chapman and Pinder
Olson wasn't the only rookie worth celebrating in a season that marked the beginning of what Beane officially deemed a rebuild. The A's roster was brimming with baby faces as they set forth on a youth movement, including Chad Pinder and Matt Chapman, who hit a game-winning single against the Yankees for his first big league hit. Top prospect Franklin Barreto also made his debut in June, hitting a walk-off homer less than two weeks later.
Walk-off victories remained a specialty of the A's, who walked off three games in a row in May. They also showcased their resiliency on the road with several commendable comebacks. On Aug. 6, while playing in the confines of Angel Stadium, the A's erased a five-run deficit and rallied to score six unanswered runs to pull out a wild 11-10 win. Pinder had four hits and was a triple away from the cycle in the win.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.