The Oakland A’s begin their ALDS in an hour or so, for the first time since 2013. But before we move on, there’s one last order of business from the Wild Card Series they just won. Official series MVPs are not named until the postseason reaches the LCS stage, so we’ll have to name our own from the first-round series gone by.
Conveniently, this can also serve as a quick look back at who was hot last week in the first days of the playoffs.
Let’s begin with some hitters. There wasn’t one singular hero on this side of the ball, and (spoiler alert) there’s a good chance we’ll be pulling from the pitching staff for this honor. But here were the top names against the Chicago White Sox impressive staff.
First up is Marcus Semien. He homered in Game 2, delivering the eventual game-winning runs. Then he reached base three times in Game 3, scored once, and helped set up the game-winning rally.
Then there’s Sean Murphy. He had a hit in each game, including one in Game 2 ahead of Semien’s homer. Then Murphy went yard in Game 3, waking up the A’s offense and launching their comeback. He also caught all three games.
Or how about Chad Pinder? He went 3-for-9 with a walk, and notched the series-winning two-run hit in Game 3.
Honorable mention: Khris Davis also hit a homer; Tommy La Stella had three hits, a walk, and a clutch defensive play; Mark Canha walked three times and made a legendary catch at the wall in Game 2.
Some solid cases there. But we all know there was one pitcher to rule them all last week, and that was Chris Bassitt. Oakland was on the ropes after playing their same old quiet Game 1 loss, and their de-facto ace stepped up and saved their season. His seven sparkling innings carried the day, as Semien and the lineup took care of business against Dallas Keuchel. With a shakier starting performance by the A’s, maybe the White Sox stay in that game and come through in the end. Bassitt only played one of the three games, but his effort shaped the entire series.
Or perhaps you prefer Liam Hendriks. He was shaky in Game 2 behind Bassitt, failing to complete the tough six-out save and giving up a couple runs along the way (but not blowing the lead). But then he came back the next day to lock down the 9th, sealing the series with a mighty roar.
Honorable mention: J.B. Wendelken, who tossed 3⅔ scoreless innings over two appearances and allowed just one hit. You could argue that maybe he and Hendriks should switch places here, but most of Wendelken’s work came mopping up in a loss for what that’s worth.
Who’s your pick? Let’s vote in the comments! To cast your vote, look for my ballot comment at the top of the thread, and Rec your favorite player’s reply.