Another year is upon us, which means another season of Oakland Athletics baseball is just two months away.
Our own co-editor Jason Burke has already written New Year’s resolutions for the A’s. So I am giving you part one of a list of bold predictions for the 2015 A’s.
Some will be based on analysis, some on gut feeling. But all of them will be bold, yet within the realm of possibility.
Here they are:
1. Craig Gentry will lead the American League in stolen bases. He converted a whopping 91 percent of his attempts in 2014 resulting in 20 swiped bags. He is projected to spend a good chunk of time in left field, while spelling the other outfielders from time to time. I’m going to come out and say Gentry will be a full-time player somewhere in 2015 and steal 50 bases.
3. The downfall of the A’s last year was a result of too many all-star representatives. Doesn’t this team know it thrives when it produces the obligatory one-per-team player? That player this season will be right fielder Josh Reddick. Sonny Gray and Sean Doolittle are the obvious choices to represent that A’s, but Reddick will use gold-glove caliber defense, power, and speed to propel him to the midsummer classic in Cincinnati.
In the second half of 2014 Reddick finished 6th in batting average, 3rd in OPS, and 4th in isolated slugging among AL outfielders. He also cut his strikeout rate by more than half. At the prime age of 28 when the season starts, he will finish 2015 with 22 home runs, 92 RBI, and a .285/.340/.530 triple-slash line.
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4. Recent addition (and likely a throw-in) Josh Phegley immediately impacts the A’s and wins a gold glove from behind the plate. Stephen Vogt and John Jaso’s catching days are all but behind them. Phegley’s presence will help them put their catching gear away for good, if they aren’t traded by spring. The 26-year old will be given a chance to blossom in Oakland.
He does not have a true platoon split, so should he handle the bat well enough, and playing full-time could be his. In the minors Phegley has thrown out 47 percent of runners, and in his brief time in the bigs that number is 29 percent. For reference, 2014’s gold glove winner Salvador Perez threw out 30 percent of would-be base thieves.
5. Back to Mark Canha. He will lead the A’s in home runs. What? I said it. The A’s made a move to ensure they got Canha in the Rule-5 draft this winter, meaning there is something there they like. And his opportunities will be many considering the stipulations surrounding his presence with the team. If you look at his minor league numbers you think he could be a solid reserve or platoon player, similar to that of the immortal Chris Carter from the 2012 season. I think Canha has the potential to be more than that. His wRC+ in the PCL last season was 31 points above average. He bounced around the diamond playing in 51 games in left field, 40 games at first base, and 18 games at third base.
His hit tool is his finest, and the A’s will look to utilize his athleticism and positional flexibility as long as he hits enough. I’m thinking he could swat 23 home runs, prompting the team to rename the left field foul pole “Canha’s Corner.”
Stay tuned for part two next week as I dive into predictions for the team as a whole.
With bold predictions comes the potential to look completely silly when the games actually are played. Where am I crazy? What are your bold predictions? Leave a comment or tweet me.
Happy New Year and let’s go Oakland!