As the stage closes in from 10 featured acts to 8 to 4 to 2, no doubt key acquisitions have played a significant role. Ex-A's no less: Ben Zobrist and Yoenis Cespedes have been difference-makers for their respective World Series teams, both down the stretch and in the postseason.
Overall, though, 2015 feels like a year in which high draft picks, homegrown talent, and a consistent core, has been a pattern throughout the playoffs. Store bought teams like the Yankees sniffed the postseason but wound up playing the part of the fire hydrant and not the dog. Or like the Red Sox they sat home. The Dodgers did make it to the NLDS but then fell flat. Meanwhile...
No doubt Cespedes energized the Mets' second half run, having had a good season in Detroit but having a tremendous two months for New York. But what has allowed the Mets to stampede over favored teams and represent the National League in the World Series? Their rotation (Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz) and Daniel Murphy, along with Lucas Duda and the 9th -- and often 8th -- inning dominance of Jeurys Familia.
The Royals are a product of extremely high draft picks they held onto through thick and thin. We won't even focus on Luke Hochevar, who is a bit buried as the Royals' 4th righty out of the bullpen, though he was a #1 overall pick. Eric Hosmer (#3 overall pick) and Mike Moustakas (#2 overall pick) wobbled at times in their early career, but KC stuck with both and are reaping the benefits. Alex Gordon (#2 overall pick) struggled at 3B but found a home as a stellar left fielder. Other Royals' signees who play key roles on the team include Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera.
No the Royals did not draft either Alcides Escobar nor Lorenzo Cain, but they acquired both from Milwaukee at age 24 and both have been staples for the Royals for so long now that's it's hard to remember they were once someone else's. This team has grown up together through its prime years.
The Astros, of course, enjoyed the highest of draft picks for enduring 100-loss seasons like they were going out of style. It paid off with the rise of George Springer and Carlos Correa joining Jose Altuve to help propel the Astros into the Division Series where they came within 6 outs of a date with the Blue Jays in the ALCS.
The Cubs, too, rode drafted talent and acquired-before-they-were-successful talent to the Division Series, notably Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Jake Arietta. As deep and exciting as the Cubs' farm system is, though, of all the teams they perhaps borrowed the most veteran talent from elsewhere, as Jon Lester, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Austin Jackson, Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill all made their name outside of Chicago before joining the Cubbie Blue.
I'm not outlining this as a surefire blueprint for the A's, or any other team, to follow to glory -- these trends can be transient and even illusory to those who seek patterns where sometimes only randomness exists. Sometimes it's not a Jackson Pollack masterpiece so much as "Dang it I spilled paint all over the garage but huh, maybe I can sell this..."
It is, however, notable how much good young talent there is in baseball right now, how much of it has grown up together to help teams get deep into the postseason, how important it can be to hit on your top draft picks and to bring in -- and hang onto -- talent that is around the "breakout" age of 24. From the whispers around the A's front office, it appears the A's are leaning towards embracing this model for the coming years, and based on what we've seen so far in October it would be hard to blame them.