Many in the national media are writing off the Oakland Athletics next season due to all of the trades that have taken place this offseason, all involving All-Stars from the 2014 season. That is one perspective, and it could definitely end up being correct, if everything goes wrong for Oakland in 2015, but recent A’s teams have been built on depth, and this one is no exception.
On ESPN.com, they provided projections for each team in the AL West, and provided some analysis on what each team needs to make the playoffs next year. For the A’s (82 projected wins), they said “it’s difficult to get a good read here. The projections see a .500-ish team, but there are so many moving parts it’s a difficult team to project proper playing time.” They also have ten pitchers listed as possibilities in the rotation come opening day. Perhaps having so many options, one or two surprises pop up and become mainstays in the rotation for years to come.
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Sonny Gray (14-10, 3.08) will be the ace of the staff without question. If Scott Kazmir (15-9, 3.55) isn’t traded, he’ll slot behind Gray. After that, Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Hahn are put in the rotation by ESPN, which makes sense, but with both of them, we could have the same issue that we had in 2014 with Jesse Chavez seeming to tire out as the season wore on. That’s where the depth comes in. At the very least, they should both be able to hold on until Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are set to return.
For the Mariners, they have a slew of things that must go right (according to ESPN) in order for Seattle to reach their projected 88 wins (+1 over last season). This includes their big two of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma staying healthy, and James Paxton and Taijuan Walker delivering on their potential due to the lack of depth in the rotation, Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano maintaining their elite numbers, Nelson Cruz not being a dud, Austin Jackson (.263 batting average leading off with Seattle, .303 OBP) not being a terrible leadoff hitter and so on. Let’s also add in the expectations they now have to deal with. Some teams can handle them, some can’t.
According to the projections, there is a six game difference between the A’s and first place in the division.
Yes, I think that the Mariners are the team to beat because of their pitching staff, but the Oakland Athletics have a pretty decent staff as well. I’ll take my chances with Gray vs Hernandez, especially late in the season. Oakland scored nearly 100 more runs than Seattle last season. Even with all of their departures, the guys they’ve brought in aren’t slouches.
Billy Butler has the potential to hit .300 with 20 homers, and Brett Lawrie should ease the pain felt by the loss of Josh Donaldson. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Ike Davis is more productive in 2015 than Brandon Moss as well. Mark Canha has the potential to take over a big portion of left field duties, and he’ll get the chance to do just that.
Do some things need to go right for the Oakland Athletics? Of course, every team needs a little luck to reach the postseason. For the Athletics, all they may need is some fresh blood, a new attitude, some health and a chance. Most of the new acquisitions haven’t had their chance in the majors yet. 2015 could be their coming out party.
Nobody is expecting a big season from the Oakland Athletics, and that’s just how they like it.