dbrown@mercurynews.com

OAKLAND -- People keep waiting for Billy Beane to wind up with egg on his face.

Instead, he got a pie.

The general manager was on the receiving end of the A's trademark celebration Wednesday after his team wrapped up its implausible American League West division title.

Josh Reddick nailed his boss in the face with dessert -- a fitting ending for a team that was expected to get creamed all season.

The A's instead won 94 games to tie for the 10th-best total in Oakland history.

Beane can't say whether this team defied his own expectations. But only because he never had any.

"We didn't make any predictions, positive or negative, about what we were supposed to do," he said on the day the A's finished off the Texas Rangers 12-5 in front of a rollicking Coliseum crowd.

"The closest we came is saying that we wanted to create a team that had a chance to get better from the first day forward. That was the expectation we set. We just didn't know where we were going to start from.

"In fairness, maybe we were a little further ahead when we started than maybe anybody anticipated."

Beane recounted the long list of improbable stories, noting that the A's regular lineup included a catcher playing third base (Josh Donaldson), an outfielder playing first (Brandon Moss), a shortstop playing second (Cliff Pennington) and a former minor league first baseman serving as a left-handed reliever (Sean Doolittle).

Above all, he said was the mentality of a young bunch -- a philosophy he referred to as the "Jim Corsi Factor." Corsi, an obscure middle reliever for the A's in 1990s, feared no hitter and no situation. "And you're thinking, 'You're Jim Corsi. You're not Dennis Eckersley,' " Beane said.

The A's general manager said his current players don't seem to know that they're not All-Stars, either. They defied predictions by finishing a season-high 26 games over .500.

Beane introduced the Jim Corsi theory in talking about rookie starter A.J. Griffin. He recalled that in the rookie's debut on June 24 against the Giants, the right-hander surrendered an early two-run homer to the Giants' Buster Posey. When Griffin returned to the dugout, he shouted to teammates: "That's all they're getting today boys." Griffin didn't allow any more runs over six innings in the A's 4-2 victory. After the game, Beane found someone who confirmed the rookie's statement.

"And I breathed a sigh of relief that we had someone with that kind of self-confidence," Beane said. "Jim (Corsi) never thought there was a hitter who should get a hit off him. There's a certain amount of self-belief in that statement and (with that) comes a certain amount of relaxation."




As for comparing this team to previous A's surprises, Beane held his tongue, saying, "These stories are better written when they're all done."

But what he's seen was enough for him to put in his plug for Bob Melvin as the manager of the year.

"It's a biased opinion," Beane said, "because I work here, but even objectively I don't know how could vote otherwise. There are some guys who have done great jobs, but the job that Bob has done has been the best."