In 1980, the A's did field virtually the same team as they had in 1979, and
managed to finish the season in second place with a record of 83 wins and
79 losses. What was the major difference? The manager.
Billy Martin's "billyball" was a hit with the fans, even though his antics
weren't terrible popular with umpires. He was a master at turning teams
around from bad to good.
Even Matt Keough benefited from the change of command, and showed he was
able to pitch, and to win, and was named comeback player of the year.