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Oakland A’s settle for 2nd-round exit in MLB Dream Bracket

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Jim “Catfish” Hunter Pitching in Game

This month, MLB has been holding a fantasy tournament called the Dream Bracket. To put it in their own words: “Dream rosters for every Major League team compete in a simulated tournament to see whose best is best!” The tournament serves as a vessel for gambling on DraftKings, but even on its own merit it’s still a fun idea to think about.

Here’s the roster they came up with for the A’s, with the starting lineup in bold (click here to see all the teams’ rosters):

  • C: Mickey Cochrane, Terry Steinbach
  • 1B: Jimmie Foxx, Mark McGwire
  • 2B: Eddie Collins
  • SS: Bert Campaneris
  • 3B: Sal Bando, Eric Chavez, Carney Lansford
  • LF: Rickey Henderson
  • CF: Al Simmons
  • RF: Reggie Jackson, Jose Canseco
  • DH: Jason Giambi, Khris Davis
  • SP: Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, Dave Stewart, Lefty Grove, Eddie Plank, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito
  • RP: Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Sean Doolittle, Huston Street

As with any best-of list, we have to take a moment to analyze these picks. The starting lineup looks rock solid, with six spots taken by Hall of Famers. The rotation also looks like it has all the right names, though perhaps you could quibble about Stewart getting one of the actual starting spots while Hall of Famer Plank toils in the pen. It’s also weird to see only two of the Big 3, since we usually think of them as a package deal, but it makes sense with the limited space. Overall, five of the 11 pitchers on the staff are in the HOF.

In the bullpen, I was initially surprised to see Street and Doolittle make the cut. However, upon further review they really do make sense, especially when you consider that Doolittle is the only lefty pure reliever. Street is a sensible pick over names like Isringhausen, Balfour, Bailey, and the various one-year wonders (Koch, Foulke, Treinen, Hendriks-for-now).

My only gripe is on the bench. With only six spots available, it’s odd to see two of them going to the same corner position at third base. I would probably cut out Lansford and replace him with either a shortstop (Miguel Tejada?) or a more versatile utilityman (Tony Phillips?). And with Giambi (one of three first basemen) taking the DH role, I might wonder if there’s room for Khris Davis or if I might prefer a backup CF (Dwayne Murphy?) or at least a more well-rounded corner outfielder (Joe Rudi?).

No matter, though, because the benches didn’t factor into the A’s results at all. In 11 games, they only called on their bench once, to bring in McGwire and Lansford as 9th-inning defensive subs in a three-run game. (Again, why Lansford’s defense over Chavez, the six-time Gold Glover?).

As for the games themselves, the tournament is set up as a bracket, starting with a Round of 32 — made up of the 30 MLB teams, a Negro League roster, and a squad of current under-25-year-old stars from the present day.

The A’s entered as the No. 2 seed in the American League, behind only the Yankees. and their first-round opponent was the Tampa Bay Rays. Oakladelphia won the best-of-7 series in six games, despite dropping the first two. Here’s a writeup from Martin Gallegos, or check out the box scores for each game.

In the second round, the A’s faced the No. 7 seed White Sox, and this time it didn’t go as well. In a series that featured Eddie Collins on both teams, as well as a few more former A’s in Frank Thomas, Harold Baines, and Jermaine Dye, Chicago prevailed in only five games. Here’s a writeup, and the box scores.

That was all she wrote for the A’s in the Dream Bracket. A high seeding didn’t help them advance deep in the tournament, which is a little too close to home for 21st-century Oakland fans. The important thing, though, is that the NL No. 2 Giants got bounced in the first round, so the A’s at least made it further than they did.