Oakland's 2012 season is over, and the A's have much to be proud of -- and a lot to look forward to next year. The team fell 6-0 to the Tigers and Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Thursday at the Coliseum. Oakland did push the series to the brink by coming back to tie the series with wins in Game 3 and 4 at the Coliseum, but Verlander stopped the A's in both the first and final games. There's little shame in falling to the defending MVP and Cy Young award winner, and each game was close until the late innings. The A's were not expected to do much this season and were pegged for a last-place finish in the AL West. But with a young and mostly unknown lineup and pitching staff, they roared back to win the division on the final day of the regular season. With 12 rookies on the playoff roster, the A's set up to be even better next season. Unlike this year, they should have most of their major contributors back, and their rotation, with Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin, should be a major strength. Yoenis Cespedes, the A's rookie outfielder from Cuba, will have a full season under his belt and he appears to be a star in the making. The entire outfield is expected back, with Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick, and it is one of the better units in the league both offensively and defensively. Oakland's biggest question mark next year might be at shortstop. The A's have a mutual option on Stephen Drew at $10 million, but it's unclear if the team is willing to pick up that big a sum and equally unclear if Drew might want to test the free agent market, given the demand for shortstops.
- Justin Verlander