The Oakland Athletics, universally lauded back in July after making a pair of trades that netted them Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, are in the midst of one of the biggest late-season collapses in recent history. At one point up by six games in the AL West, the A's are now down by 10 games to the surging Los Angeles Angels, and after having lost 21 of their past 30 games, they're suddenly in danger of not even earning a wild-card spot.
What happened here, and why? Well, there are plenty of reasons for the collapse, and we'll detail them in a second. But were you to ask the general population or certain members of the local media, you'd likely hear that the loss of Yoenis Cespedes, who was traded to Boston for Lester and Jonny Gomes, from the lineup (and outfield) is the main reason, and it's easy to see why. In the 39 games since the trade, they've scored four or more runs just 14 times, 35.9 percent of the time. In the previous 107 games, they did so 67 times, 62.6 percent of the time. That's an enormous downturn, and since the removal of Cespedes was the major change, it has understandably been the focal point when trying to understand Oakland's disintegration.
That's overly simplistic, though, because it's about so much more than Cespedes. Here's how the A's have managed to go from a World Series favorite to a playoff uncertainty.