A’S VALUE IQs AS WELL AS OBPs, ERAs AND WARs
Yes, the baseball wizards at 7000 Coliseum Way are smart guys. It’s well documented that Billy Beane spurned a Stanford scholarship offer to sign professionally out of high school, eventually returning to college to earn an economics degree at UC San Diego. David Forst played baseball and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. degree in sociology from Harvard. Farhan Zaidi was a MIT undergrad who earned a Ph.D from UC Berkeley. Dan Feinstein, not to be outdone, brings a degree in Medieval European History from UC Davis to the table.
So it should be no surprise that their manager Bob Melvin is a Cal man. But the high IQs and academic pedigrees don’t end there. More than any season in recent memory, the A’s roster is bloated with baseball brainiacs. Shortstop Jed Lowrie, amateur photographer and world traveler, is one of three A’s who went to Stanford. The others are outfielder Sam Fuld, who writes book reviews in the Wall Street Journal in his spare time, and outfielder Michael Taylor, who already boasts “KNBR radio reporter” on his resume.
Then there’s first baseman Nate Freiman and relief pitcher Dan Otero who hail from Duke University. Both might be leaders in the clubhouse—literally—in another team pastime: crossword puzzles. Rice University, another bastion of higher education, has provided us with some estimable pitching depth in Joe Savery and Philip Humber.
And of course, the A’s erudite southpaw with the flowing beard—Sean Doolittle—was educated at the University of Virginia, where his writing skills were honed and borrowed by ESPN.com when national baseball expert Buster Olney is in need of a guest columnist.
Everyone marvels about the A’s clubhouse chemistry and the team’s fun-loving, frat-house vibe. But looking at this year’s club, there may be an actual chemist sitting at one of the cubicles. Now, do smart players guarantee a team will play smart baseball? That remains to be seen. In simplest terms, there still is much wisdom in Ariel Prieto’s award-winning TV commercial from last year. “See the ball, hit the ball.”
But judging from the academic pedigrees of the 2014 A’s, one thing is certain: Craig Breslow left us too soon.