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This offseason, the Oakland Athletics have made a slew of moves that could bring them a Championship this October. In addition to these moves, A’s players appear to be a driven bunch as they prepare for the 2014 season. After coming close each of the past two seasons, Oakland is primed to make a deep run in the playoffs this season, and will be hoisting the World Series trophy when all is said and done.
On the eve of FanFest, Yoenis Cespedes was saying all of the right things. He expressed an interest to sign long-term with Oakland, and even finish his career with the A’s. That could be because Coco Crisp had just signed an extension earlier in the day. What really stood out however, was that he has rededicated himself to hitting. Not the showoff home runs, but actual gap-to-gap hitting. He wants to put the ball in play more. If the A’s can get a season from Cespedes like the one he put together in his rookie campaign, they will excel. Cespedes has been the A’s best hitter in the playoffs the past two seasons, but the people around him have been largely shut down. If Cespedes is a bigger threat, the players around him will get better pitches to hit, and the A’s will finally advance past the ALDS.
As we mentioned a couple of days ago, Sean Doolittle has been working on adding two new pitches. The fact that Doolittle is striving to improve on an already productive resume shows that he is also dedicated to the 2014 campaign. He has been a key component to the Athletic bullpen while throwing mostly fastballs. If he can harness two new pitches, and make the effective, he becomes a linchpin in a solid bullpen.
Josh Reddick had a subpar 2013. Or was his 2012 performance a spectacular effort? After the first game of Spring Training against the Giants, I believe 2013 was an apparition. Reddick climbed the chain-link outfield wall—TWICE to rob Michael Morse of two home runs. The first catch has been debated as the best catch of all time, and it was in the first game of Spring Training. This shows that the wrist injury from last season is behind him, and he is out to prove his detractors wrong. Reddick has always been a superb defender, but this season his bat will be a factor, giving the A’s production down in the lineup if they chose to slot him there.
If you add all of these factors to an A’s offense that ranked 4th in MLB in runs scored, and pair it with an improved bullpen, the 2014 A’s are built for success. They will gain recognition early in the season, and become the darlings of baseball come October when they win the final game of the season.