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Are the Oakland Athletics Next Year's San Francisco Giants?

In every sport, when a team wins a championship, the media is quick to break down how they won and who will be able to replicate that process the following season. If a Super Bowl team wins with a running back platoon, the next year's champion obviously will have to operate a platoon. If an NBA champion wins thanks to some exotic defense, the next year's champion will obviously have to implement that defense. And naturally this courtesy is now being extended to the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Although the Giants had plenty of random events fall into place, the general thinking is that dominant starting pitching was the key for them. Although they did win some high scoring affairs this fall (see Game 1 of the World Series), their starting pitching really was a key to their winning the 2010 World Series. Accordingly, Jayson Stark broke down the five teams most capable of matching this model in 2011. Your No. 1 team? The Oakland Athletics.

Stark listed out some of the top young pitching for each of the teams (including the A's, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Florida, and Toronto), which for the A's includes Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden. For the Athletics, Stark

In Oakland, the A's have a group that didn't just lead the league in ERA, but led in starting-pitcher ERA by 36 percentage points.

Here, though, is the stat that really opened our eyes. The A's got 82 quality starts in 2010 from pitchers 26 and under. No other team in the big leagues had more than 65.
Even after trading for David DeJesus on Wednesday, the A's clearly need to work on an offense that finished next-to-last in the league in homers and scored 124 fewer runs than Texas. But the good news is, with a staff like this (and with Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Hisashi Iwakuma on the way), they clearly won't need to score eight runs a game.    

Aside from great starting pitching, the A's also have a solid bullpen rounded out by All Star closer Andrew Bailey. If the A's can add one more solid relief arm, they could turn games into six inning affairs and ease up the burden on their starters. The offense still has plenty of question marks, but the addition of DeJesus is a very solid move that coupled with the continued development of Chris Carter, could be enough to get this team to the next level.