- Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images file photo
- Because he plays for the small-market A's, players such as slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson don't find their way into the limelight.
Though the All-Star Game isn't for another two weeks, the marathon that is the Major League Baseball season has passed the midway point.
As we look ahead to the remaining three months, it's time to recognize the Bay Area's best bet for a team in the World Series this year could come from the East Bay.
That's not to say the Giants should be cast aside. They play in a division that has morphed into the worst in baseball, which will keep them in the hunt all year. If they are able to turn things around and return to the postseason — despite being no-hit Tuesday by Cincinnati's Homer Bailey — we've seen just how dangerous they can be in a short series.
But as things stand today, the A's are the total package. A balanced, deep roster with team chemistry that rivals any other organization in baseball.
The A's have proven in the first half that if there were any lingering doubts about their ability to maintain success after their incredible ride in 2012, there shouldn't be.
Oakland is proving it is much more than a lightning-in-a-bottle team that pops up every now and then, contends for a year and then disappears into the abyss.
The A's have shed that label and should be considered simply what they are: one of the best teams in baseball.
For all the postgame pie-in-the-face moments, the A's don't win with smoke and mirrors, but simply good, solid baseball. Quality starting pitching night in and night out, a lights-out bullpen and a steady lineup.
Entering Tuesday's game, the A's were ranked in the top 10 in baseball in runs scored, home runs and on-base percentage. Likewise, the pitching staff is top 10 in ERA, runs allowed and opponents' batting average.
The A's have won series this year against baseball heavyweights such as the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and their Bay Area brethren, the Giants.
All of this without a bona fide superstar. In fact, The A's don't have a single player ranked in the top three at his position in the latest All-Star voting.
If you changed the name on the front of the jerseys of Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson, Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour to Boston or New York, you'd likely be seeing a team with three to four All-Stars. Instead, the A's will likely land their required one, maybe two.
But that works in Oakland. The us-against-the-world mentality is contagious. It's something that radiates from the clubhouse to the small, but unwaveringly loyal, fan base.
The A's rode it last year all the way into the postseason, and who knows how far it could have taken them if they hadn't run into Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander twice in the postseason.
The A's haven't reached the World Series since they went three years in a row from 1988 to 1990.
They've had chances (A's fans still wake up in a cold sweat screaming "Slide, Jeremy Giambi, slide!"), but haven't been able to get over the hump.
Maybe this team, a year older and with a taste of playoff experience under their belts, will be the one that ends that drought.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dylan_kruse.