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Did health hamper the A’s past playoff performances?

Sep 24, 2013, 2:01 PM PDT

Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics clinched a playoff berth on Sunday and have been to the postseason six times since the year 2000. In those previous six trips to the playoffs, the A’s have only won one series.

Many observers will point toward the A’s lack of postseason success and blame youth and inexperience, but aside from age, there is another common theme. The A’s playoffs teams were frequently plagued by injuries to key players.

There are still five games remaining (this is the part where you knock on wood), but the A’s look prime to enter the postseason with one of their healthiest rosters ever. With the team in tact, this could be the year they get over the hump.

Here are the A’s last six playoffs appearances and the players they were missing at the time. 

2000: American League Division Series vs. Yankees (Lost 2-3)

Mark Mulder was out with a herniated disc in his back. He would frequently be injured when the A’s needed him most.

2001: American League Division Series vs. Yankees (Lost 2-3)

In a freak occurrence, Jermaine Dye fouled a ball off his leg during Game Four of the American League Division Series. The ball ended up breaking his leg.  The A’s had the Yankees on the verge of elimination, but couldn’t overcome the loss of one of their best hitters.

source: AP

The 2002 Oakland Athletics had the best chance at winning it all based on health.

2002: American League Division Series vs. Twins (Lost 2-3)

Olmedo Saenz ruptured his achilles tendon while running to first base in Game One. He was one of the A’s key right-handed bats off the bench. Mark Ellis and closer Billy Koch made their postseason debuts. Koch ended up allowing three runs in the ninth inning of Game Five. The A’s rallied for three runs of their own off Twins closer Eddie Guardado, but lost 5-4.

2003: American League Division Series vs. Red Sox (Lost 2-3)

Mark Mulder led the team with 15 wins before a hip injury in August ended his 2003 season.

Even without him, Oakland Athletics fans felt great about their chances. Tim Hudson was their true ace and he was on the mound in Game Four with a chance to send the team to the ALCS. Hudson lasted just one inning. He left the game with a strained oblique and the A’s eventually lost the game 5-4. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks filled in admirably, but there was an impending sense of doom that washed over as soon as “Huddy” left the game.

Without Mulder and Hudson, the A’s weren’t much of a World Series contender. Hudson was involved in a bar fight the night before he was injured, the A’s insisted he wasn’t injured in the skirmish. It sure seemed suspicious, though.

Outfielder Jose Guillen was acquired in a deadline deal to help boost the A’s offense. He broke a hamate bone before the playoffs and had to play through the pain. He ended up hitting .455 with one RBI, but he wasn’t at his best.

2006: American League Championship Series against Detroit (Lost 0-4) / American League Division Series against Minnesota (Won 3-0)

Rich Harden only made nine starts in 2006. He spent most of the season on the disabled list. The A’s most promising and talented arm returned to the rotation on September 21, and was only able to make three starts before pitching against Detroit in the ALCS. Harden lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs. He clearly wasn’t at his best as he issued five walks.

Bobby Crosby missed the entire 2006 postseason with a back injury. The A’s played Marco Scutaro at shortstop. He was likely an upgrade, but Crosby was supposed to be the starter.

Mark Ellis missed the ALCS after breaking his right index finger in the ALDS. With Ellis and Crosby out, the A’s middle infield depth was severely damaged.

2012: American League Division Series against Detroit (Lost 2-3)

The A’s surged into the playoffs after winning the division on the 162nd game of the season. They did it with Opening Day starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy out for the remainder of the season after fracturing his skull. Bartolo Colon was suspended throughout the postseason and Brett Anderson eventually pitched while still feeling pain in his strained right oblique.

Veteran leader Brandon Inge missed the postseason after having season-ending surgery to repair a separated shoulder. Lefty reliever Jordan Norberto was huge for the A’s during the season, but missed the postseason with left shoulder tendonitis.

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