Looking back at the 2002 Oakland A’s 20-game win streak
While there continues to be little to write home about for this team, a brief history lesson may be in order. 20 years ago, the Oakland A’s went on a 20-game consecutive win streak, with the help of gritty players and a then-newly minted term “analytics.” This A’s strategy – in the Moneyball era – arguably changed the game of baseball forever.
This past weekend, the A’s commemorated the streak with the return of key players from the 2002 team. In a moving moment at the Coliseum, Miguel Tejada threw out the first pitch that was caught by Scott Hatteberg.
Anyone who is a fan of the game can reminisce on the famed streak. Let’s take a look back at some highlights from 20 years ago. Feel old yet? Because I do.
Awards on awards
Although the Oakland A’s lost in the division series that year, the season could be summed up with one word – awards. While a World Series ring would have been ideal, individual Oakland players did not go unnoticed.
Miguel Tejada won the MVP award with a batting average of .308, an OPS of .861, and 34 HRs. It was considered his break out year and one that propelled the streak. Notably, he pulled through with game winning hits in both the 18th and 19th games.
Barry Zito also won the Cy Young award. His record was 23-5, a WHIP of 1.134, and went 8-0 in his last 10 starts.
Scott Hatteberg…that’s it
Hatteberg will always be an Oakland A’s hero. After the team blew an 11-0 lead, Hatteberg came in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 9th, hitting a walk-off HR to extend the streak to 20 games and breaking the then-AL record.
In 2002, his OBP was .374, with 61 RBIs, and 15 HRs. Besides this movie-worthy season, Hatteberg was a reliable player for quite a few years in Oakland, remaining consistent through 2005 before his departure to Cincinnati.
The suspense of it all 20 years later
As I said, this 2002 team had grit and heart. What made this streak even more exciting was the nail biting wins and comebacks. 12 of the 20 games were by “narrow margins” where closer, Billy Koch, recorded either a win or a save. Even the 20th win came with even more drama than anyone could write in a screenplay.
It doesn’t matter what team you root for. If you’re a fan of the game, you root for this. 2017 even had us glued to Cleveland games in the hopes that we would witness history again.
In the midst of a season like the one we have now, why not take a trip 20 years in the past to remember a team that, almost as if it was fiction, beat the colossal odds stacked against them.