Thanks to the book and an A-list movie, the Moneyball era of the Oakland A’s has been highly glorified over the past few years. While those teams were built in part with exploiting some market inefficiencies like on base percentage, an overlooked aspect of that portrayal was how good the pitching staff was. Led by a trio of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, the A’s had one of the best rotations in baseball and it resulted in four straight playoff appearances, one Cy Young Award for Zito and a second place finish for both Mulder and Hudson.
Those glory days are now in the past for the A’s, who enter Thursday 18.5 games out of first place in the American League West. However, there will be an ode to that trio this weekend when the San Francisco Giants come to Oakland for a three game series. In the second game of that series on Saturday afternoon Barry Zito and Tim Hudson will be opposing starting pitchers for what could be the final start of each player’s career. Due to the history of this matchup, this game holds the most expensive A’s tickets this season by a significant margin.
Currently the average price for Saturday afternoon’s game is $172.52, 243% more expensive than the season average for A’s tickets on the secondary market in 2015. The game has been so in demand, there are not many tickets available even on the secondary market, leaving the get-in price at $138. Through the A’s official site, there are still some tickets available but those are only for lower box and field seats, or for standing room only. For a team that sits in 13th place out of 15 American League teams in total attendance, this type of demand has not been common in Oakland this season.
Before a one-inning relief appearance on September 20, Zito had not pitched in the big leagues since 2013. He spent all of 2015 in AAA Nashville and was not originally called up on September 1 when major league rosters were allowed to expand. An injury to Jesse Chavez led to Zito’s call up, though the initial plan was to use him solely as a reliever. However with the Giants coming into town and Hudson scheduled to start during the series, the idea of allowing the two to start against each other was floated around and on Tuesday the teams announced Zito and Hudson would be the probable starters for Saturday’s game.
It was also announced to cap off the festivities on Sunday, Zito, Hudson and Mulder will be honored before the game and all three will throw out a first pitch.
Earlier in the month the 39-year-old Hudson confirmed he would retire at the end of the season. At the age of 37 and without recent success at the major league level, this could also be the last appearance for Zito in his career. It’s quite fitting the two could be able to go out together in the same stadium they started their big league careers.