A Primer for the 2015 Oakland Athletics Season

Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona and Florida in just 15 days. To some people that countdown isn’t a big deal and doesn’t deserve the attention it gets.

With all due respect Jesse Spector, you’re wrong.

Thousands of baseball fans around the world have the right to be excited about this day because the mere knowledge that our favorite players are reunited again and playing catch is, well, exciting.

For children dreaming of their first little league practice it’s exciting. For adults who aren’t fortunate enough to play a game for a living it’s exciting.

We’re not duped into thinking spring is officially here, or games will be played. But the reporting date for players is the next step toward those things. It can be enough for any fan to be able to smell fresh grass and feel the warm sun from anywhere, such as inside an office space, classroom, or home.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ve put together a primer for the 2015 Oakland Athletics season.

I’ve listed 15 things every A’s fan should know entering the season.

Warning: Ike Davis and Billy Butler are prominent players in the list. This morning Jason compared the two.

If you are unfamiliar with the statistics or terms I used in my list, take a glance at this glossary.

These facts are designed to inspire optimism for the coming year, and hopefully help you get excited for another season of “Green Collar” baseball.

Here are 15 things to know before Opening Day:

1. Oakland designated hitters managed a .650 OPS, a .292 wOBA, and an 88 wRC+ in 2014. Since 2009, when he became a full-time player, Billy Butler has posted an OPS of .819, a wOBA of .355 and a 122 wRC+. Butler is expected to DH while facing righties in 2014, and play first base while facing lefties.

Oct 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning in game three of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2. In 1745 innings playing first base Brandon Moss has accumulated -19 defensive runs saved and a .988 fielding percentage. In a little less than twice that amount of innings Butler has managed a .992 fielding percentage and just -22 defensive runs saved. Butler’s worst DRS score was -8 in 2009, and Moss’ was -12 in 2013.

3. In 2014 Oakland received 713 plate appearances from cleanup hitters. They walked 10 percent of the time and struck out nearly 25 percent of the time. They totaled a .777 OPS, wOBA of .341, and 122 wRC+.

4. For his career Butler has a 10 percent walk rate, 15 percent strikeout rate, a .796 OPS, .347 wOBA, and 116 wRC+ from the cleanup spot.

5. In 2014, the Athletics received their second worst production from the number two spot in the lineup. Oakland’s number two hitters managed a .627 OPS, .282 wOBA, and 81 wRC+.

6. Batting second in 2014, Ben Zobrist tallied an .844 OPS, .373 wOBA, and 147 wRC+.

7. In 2014, the Athletics rotation finished tied for third in baseball and first in the American League in ERA at 3.37. However, the rotation placed 15th in FIP and seventh in xFIP.

8. Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, and the newly acquired Jesse Hahn are all expected to begin the season in the Athletics rotation.

Jun 19, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Jesse Hahn (45) pitches during the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

9. In 2014 Hahn threw 73.1 innings in 12 starts for the San Diego Padres. His ERA was 3.07, his FIP was 3.40, his xFIP was 3.59, his K/9 was 8.59, and his K/BB was 2.19.

10. In 2014 Hahn’s ERA and K/9 bested Chavez, Kazmir, and Gray. His FIP bested Pomeranz, Chavez, and Gray, and his xFIP bested Chavez and Kazmir.

11. In 2014 Hahn used four different pitches (Fastball, slider, curveball, changeup). Three of them rated as above average (Fastball, curveball, changeup).

12. Oakland first basemen posted a walk rate of 9.4 percent and a strikeout rate of 22.4 percent in 2014. They also posted a .749 OPS, .330 wOBA, and 114 wRC+.

13. In 2014 Ike Davis delivered his worst season as a major league regular. His walk rate was 14.8 percent, his strikeout rate was 18.3 percent, his OPS was .722, his wOBA was .324, and his wRC+ was 108.

14. Davis is projected to play first base against right-handed pitching in 2014. Since becoming a regular in 2010, among MLB first baseman against righties Davis ranks 16th in OPS at .813, 15th in wOBA at .353, 18th in Isolated slugging at .202, and 12th in wRC+ at 126.

15. Davis will turn 28 shortly before Opening Day, and will be entering what is considered a player’s power prime years.