|2002 Oakland Athletics|
|American League West Champions|
|Major League affiliations|
|Owner(s)||Stephen Schott & Kenneth Hofmann|
|General manager(s)||Billy Beane|
FSN Bay Area
(Ray Fosse, Greg Papa)
(Bill King, Ken Korach, Ray Fosse)
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The 2002 Oakland Athletics season was the 102nd season in franchise history and the 35th season in Oakland, California. The Athletics finished first in the American League West with a record of 103-59.
The Athletics' 2002 campaign ranks among the most famous in franchise history. Following the 2001 season, Oakland saw the departure of three key players. Billy Beane, the team's general manager, responded with a series of under-the-radar free agent signings. The new-look Athletics, despite a comparative lack of star power, surprised the baseball world by besting the 2001 team's regular season record. The team is most famous, however, for winning 20 consecutive games between August 13 and September 4, 2002. The Athletics' season was the subject of Michael Lewis's 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (Lewis was given the opportunity to follow the team around throughout the season). A film adaptation of the book, titled Moneyball, was released in 2011.
Oakland's 2002 campaign began on a tumultuous note. During the 2001-02 offseason, the team lost three key free agents to larger market teams: 2000 AL MVP Jason Giambi to the New York Yankees, outfielder Johnny Damon to the Boston Red Sox, and closer Jason Isringhausen to the St. Louis Cardinals. Faced with a number of significant roster holes, general manager Billy Beane sought to replace Damon and Giambi with free agent hitters Scott Hatteberg and David Justice. Beane also made a number of key pitching acquisitions; most notably, he traded for Toronto Blue Jays reliever Billy Koch. Koch ultimately succeeded Isringhausen as the team's closer. Beane also traded for then-unheralded starter Ted Lilly and traded for second baseman Ray Durham. Additionally, the season saw the MLB debuts of second baseman Mark Ellis and eventual starter Aaron Harang.
The new-look Athletics experienced a bumpy start to the season. The team followed a respectable 15-10 start with an abysmal 5-16 run; at the end of their slump, on May 23, the team's record stood at 20-26. From that point forward, the Athletics' fortunes improved significantly. In a prelude to the team's famous late-season winning streak, the Athletics went 16-1 from June 6 to June 24. The surge propelled the club within two games of first place, but a prolonged funk saw the A's play roughly .500 baseball for the next month and a half. That ended with an unremarkable 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on August 12.
On August 13, the Athletics began their then-AL-record 20-game win streak. The streak's first win came courtesy of Barry Zito, who allowed three runs (one earned) over eight innings in a 5-4 victory over the Jays. Over the next several weeks, stellar pitching, hitting, and defense all played a significant role in the Athletics' surge. Most notable were the efforts of fourth starter Cory Lidle. During August, Lidle went 5-0 while posting a scant 0.20 earned run average (he allowed one run his final start of the month); three of his five winning decisions were during the streak. Many of the Athletics' victories were by narrow margins; closer Billy Koch recorded either a win or save in 12 of the streak's 20 games.
The Athletics' 18th and 19th wins came courtesy of game-ending hits by shortstop Miguel Tejada. On September 4, Oakland sought to win its 20th consecutive game; in doing so, the team hoped to break the 1947 New York Yankees' American League record of 19 consecutive wins. Their opponent was the Kansas City Royals. Over the first three innings of the game, Oakland shelled Kansas City pitchers Paul Byrd and Darrell May for a total of 11 runs, building a seemingly insurmountable 11-0 lead. Sloppy play down the stretch, however, allowed the Royals to score five runs apiece in the fourth and eighth innings. In the ninth, Billy Koch surrendered a two-out single to Royals pinch hitter Luis Alicea; the single allowed pinch runner Kit Pellow to score the tying run. So the Athletics entered the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at 11-11. In one of the most famous moments in Oakland Athletics history, pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg then hit a one-out solo home run off of Kansas City reliever Jason Grimsley. The home run clinched the AL-record 20th consecutive victory for the Athletics.
Oakland's streak came to an end with a 6-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on September 6. The A's continued to play well down the stretch, as evidenced by their final record of 103-59. The club's late-season surge allowed it to hold off the Anaheim Angels, who finished four games behind them at 99-63. Oakland's regular season exploits, however, once again failed to translate into postseason success. The team again lost the American League Division Series (this time to the Twins) in five games.
Tejada and starting pitcher Barry Zito went on to win the American League MVP and Cy Young Award, respectively. Tejada left the Athletics following the 2003 season, while Zito stayed until the end of the 2006 campaign.
|New York Yankees||103||58||0.640|
|Boston Red Sox||93||69||0.574|
|Chicago White Sox||81||81||0.500|
|Toronto Blue Jays||78||84||0.481|
|Kansas City Royals||62||100||0.383|
|Tampa Bay Devil Rays||55||106||0.342|
Sources:              
The Athletics clinched the American League West with a regular season record of 103-59, advancing to the first round of the postseason. They were defeated in the 2002 American League Division Series three games to two by the American League Central champion Minnesota Twins. The Twins would later be defeated in the 2002 American League Championship Series by the eventual World Series champion Anaheim Angels.
|AL Ranking / 14||2||1||13||4||1||7|
|AL Ranking / 14||9||8||5||9||12||10||4||--|
Note: Only players with at least one at-bat are listed.
|AAA||Sacramento River Cats||Pacific Coast League||Bob Geren|
|AA||Midland RockHounds||Texas League||Tony DeFrancesco|
|A||Modesto A's||California League||Greg Sparks|
|A||Visalia Oaks||California League||Webster Garrison|
|A-Short Season||Vancouver Canadians||Northwest League||Orv Franchuk|
|Rookie||AZL Athletics||Arizona League||Ruben Escalera|