Oakland Athletics: What To Be Optimistic About in 2016

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As the Oakland Athletics stare down the final series of what has been arguably the worst season in this millennium, there is actually quite a lot to be encouraged about in 2016. While I understand it is difficult to justify any type of elation when the green and gold have essentially clinched the worst record in the American League, bear with me. Less than 70 wins also isn’t ideal, but hey, you could be rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies – who just managed to clinch win number 60.

But actually, the amounts of holes within the A’s roster aren’t as gaping as you may think. In fact, a few of those “holes” are filled with talent, and the few that don’t look promising are easily fixable. Also, while this is a topic that I’m sure will be heavily debated and increasingly analyzed throughout the winter, I hope this can act as your personal synopsis in order to figure out which areas you’d personally like to see improved. Now let’s look at why A’s fans should be optimistic about the 2016 season.

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PRO-gression to the Mean is Inevitable:

If you take a look at the Athletics from a statistical view, it would be difficult to understand how this team (on paper) could perform so poorly. The Green and Gold rank eighth in the Major Leagues in starting pitching earned run average, and 17th in total runs scored. However, the devil lies in the details, as they have simply been unable to step up in close-game situations, resulting in an 18-32 record in one-run games.

The culprit is no secret. That would be the bullpen, as A’s relievers currently hold the third-highest ERA in baseball, at 4.65. It’s been extremely frustrating considering that the last three years, the Oakland ‘pen has been stellar – their 3.02 ERA over that period ranks in the top five around the league. However, this season should be seen as more of an outlier when it comes to this department due to the sustained consistency throughout the past.

Youth Comes in Bunches:

A total of 10 players on the A’s roster this season made their first appearance in a major league game, while 10 others finally got a chance to play their way through an entire MLB season. That is essentially 20 newcomers to the bigs that now have the necessary experience to take a big step forward in helping Oakland in 2016.

Now, not all these are impact players. However, youngsters such as Mark Cahna, Marcus Semien, Billy Burns, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, and even Chris Bassitt have proven they can hold their own amongst the games best. There is a major question mark as to whether this group can be the core of an American League West championship ball club, but as for their possible potential, the sky is the limit.

The Farm Keeps Growing:

As general manager Billy Beane mentioned, even before coming into this season, the A’s prospect pool needed to be replenished. Despite some of the (less than popular) moves in order to acquire these premature talents, plenty of them flashed the necessary signs to exonerate a couple of Beane’s “transactional mishaps.” Now some of you may be saying, “Well, we won’t see these guys in 2016.” However, I beg to differ.

No matter if the green and gold are in contention or not, I could see the likes of Renato Nunez, Chad Pinder, Sean Manaea, or even Matt Chapman and Jacob Nottingham getting a shot to – if not make the Opening Day roster – definitely receive a mid-to-late season call-up. This plethora of youth – not to mention some others currently at the High-A level – would easily be able to quickly blend with the already tight-knit group currently in Oakland. Whether you agree with the offseason and mid-season trades made by the puppet master himself, it would be difficult to not see the future being bright for the A’s.

Next: A's Hire Justine Siegal, First Female Coach

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