"We came a long way and accomplished a lot, so we're obviously upset that it didn't go very far," Reddick said. "But on the other hand very proud of everybody's accomplishments this year, personal and team-wise. I feel like we made a huge mark on this league."
This energetic young group with 12 rookies heads into the offseason as great overachievers. Owner Lew Wolff has said it, Beane hinted at it and even Manager of the Year candidate Melvin said most everybody else in baseball would never have seen this coming from the low-budget club.
The A's payroll of $59.5 million is lowest in the majors, and the A's won 94 games.
That's after Beane traded away three of his top pitchers last winter to rebuild: Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals, Trevor Cahill to Arizona and All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to Boston.
He doesn't expect to unload the same way this offseason considering the youth of the team. Beane hopes to bring back would-be free agents Jonny Gomes and McCarthy and pick up Balfour's $4.5 million club option for 2013.
Upstart Oakland made a remarkable September surge, then swept and stunned the two-time reigning AL champion Texas Rangers in the season-ending series to capture the AL West crown in Game No. 162. That set off a second celebratory dance party in the clubhouse in three days after Oakland first secured a playoff spot Oct. 1.
"It's definitely been the greatest experience of my career," said center fielder Coco Crisp, who had his share of success with the Red Sox and won the 2007 World Series with Boston. "It was a lot of fun. Of course everybody hates that it has to end right now."
The A's became the first team in major league history to win the division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 to go. The A's were five back of the Rangers with nine left, then won their final six all at home with sweeps of Seattle and Texas.
But the Tigers got them again. Just as Detroit did in a four-game sweep in the 2006 AL championship series — the last postseason appearance by the A's.
Melvin and hitting coach Chili Davis called strikeouts part of the game for the powerful A's, whose 112 homers after the All-Star break were the most in baseball.
Yoenis Cespedes wrapped up his sensational rookie season by batting .316 (6 for 19) with two RBIs in the playoffs. Though he didn't want to discuss his year Friday while gathering his things — "next year," he said.
"We have nothing to hang our heads low about," Reddick said. "We had a great season and came really a long way and proved a lot of people wrong."