September 30, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder
The A’s have spent the off-season retooling and revamping their roster in an effort to defend their AL West crown. General manager Billy Beane and the rest of his brain-trust have added depth to Oakland’s roster with the likes of Chis Young, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Jed Lowrie, and a few others.
Depth will be Oakland’s biggest strength going into this season and the A’s are hoping that will be enough to defend their division title. A few things will have to happen, of course, in order for the A’s to fend off the powerhouses in Arlington and Anaheim. So, here are three reasons why the A’s will succeed in 2013:
- Their depth will carry them to another division title. Oakland boasts a ton of depth all throughout their roster, namely in the outfield. The A’s currently feature four everyday outfielders with Seth Smith as a back-up option. Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, and Chris Young will headline Oakland’s stacked outfield this year. In addition to their incredible depth in the outfield, the A’s have a pretty deep infield heading into the new year. Beane made it a point to address his team’s questions at various spots across the diamond and the GM brought in guys like Nakajima and Lowrie to help fill the voids left by Cliff Pennington and Stephen Drew. Questions will still surround the team, namely Nakajima‘s ability to provide Oakland with stability at short. Melvin should have no problem, however, finding alternatives for the position should Nakajima struggle. The A’s should boast plenty of pitching depth as well. Which bring me to my next point…
- The starting rotation will make significant strides again in 2013. The A’s rolled out an extremely young and inexperienced rotation last year, but the team was pleasantly surprised by their young arms. Guys like Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and A.J. Griffin provided the A’s with strong outings on a considerably consistent basis. It should only get better from here on out, too. The A’s are set to open with Brett Anderson, barring any serious injuries of course, as their ace. If Anderson is healthy, the A’s rotation will be very tough to beat. Parker showed flashes of his potential throughout the year and showed tremendous poise down the stretch, going 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in September. Milone, meanwhile, was solid in September winning twice while posting a 3.82 ERA over six starts. A trio of Anderson-Parker-Milone may not be quite like the one we witnessed in Hudson-Mulder-Zito, but Oakland’s young rotation is primed for another impressive season. With Bartolo Colon back in the mix as well, Oakland will feature a rotation that is stacked with talent and depth.
- Yoenis Cespedes will have a breakout year…again. Cespedes had a stellar rookie campaign in Oakland, posting a .292/.356/.505 slash line with 23 HR and 82 RBI. The A’s were impressed with Cespedes‘ transition from Cuba to the US and are even more optimistic that he’ll only continue to get better with more experience. The A’s offense was not explosive by any means, but in terms of power the team did pack more of a punch last year than they have in recent seasons. Cespedes played in the spacious Coliseum and collected 11 of his 23 homers at home and hit an impressive .319/.406/.531 at home last year. If he’s fully healthy, his numbers should only get better and a productive Cespedes will do wonders for Oakland’s offense. I expect a breakout year for Cespedes and expect him to hit near .300 with anywhere between 25-30 HR and 90 RBI. Really what it comes down to is how effective Oakland’s offense will be in 2013. It’s difficult imagining a scenario where the A’s lead the league again with 15 walk-off wins, but timely hitting from the A’s is something I can see happening. Oakland’s lineup won’t overwhelm you, but the depth Melvin has at his disposal should help make the offense effective enough to help compliment the team’s strong pitching.
These are only a few reasons as to why the A’s will succeed this year. The A’s have added depth all winter and have kept much of their team intact from a year ago. Depth, strong young pitching, and an effective offense will be the ingredients for success this year for Melvin’s crew. Even in the stacked AL West, a division home to the likes of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton, the A’s have enough talent to hold their own.