The Oakland A’s always surprise us. Even with all the major additions the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels have made the last two seasons, they are back-to-back AL West division champions. Do we need another ‘Moneyball’ movie to explain how this happened? Jonah Hill has gained most of his weight back, so he’s ready to reprise his role as Peter Brand.
Oakland’s young pitching staff is one of the major reasons they keep winning. They also have a knack for getting the most of their players. I mean, Bartolo Colon looked ten years younger last season.
The A’s didn’t make any budget-destroying free agent signings this offseason. They bring back the same starting lineup and all but one of their starting pitchers (Scott Kazmir replaces Colon). Can they hold off Texas and Los Angeles again?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Oakland Athletics.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 96-66
Key Additions: RP Jim Johnson, SP Scott Kazmir, RP Eric O’Flaherty, SP Drew Pomeranz, 3B Nick Punto, 2B Jake Elmore, RP Luke Gregerson, OF Craig Gentry, RP Fernando Abad, RP Fernando Rodriguez, RP Joe Savery, OF Sam Fuld & SP Philip Humber
Key Losses: SP Bartolo Colon, OF Seth Smith, OF Chris Young, RP Grant Balfour, SP Brett Anderson, RP Jerry Blevins, C Kurt Suzuki, RP Pat Neshek &RP Chris Resop
Interleague Schedule: NL East + San Francisco Giants
Projected Starters: Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick & John Jaso
Projected Starting Rotation: Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily & A.J. Griffin
Closer: Jim Johnson
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Josh Reddick – After a poor 2013 season, Reddick’s fantasy stock took a big hit. He was top-ranked outfielder going into the season, but sprained his wrist in April. His injury never really healed. He had offseason surgery and should be near 100% on Opening Day. I don’t like drafting power hitters with wrist issues, but you can get Reddick at a discount. He’s much better than the 12/56/.226 line he put up last season.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SS Addison Russell – If Russell didn’t suffer a hamstring injury this Spring, there was an outside chance he made the Major League roster. He’s a shortstop and Jed Lowrie is entrenched in that position, but they’ll make room for Russell. Albert Callaspo and Lowrie are both versatile and can be moved around the diamond. Russell has the tools to eventually be a 25/25 player and that could be conservative. The A’s are a playoff contender, so it’s hard for a young player to cut his teeth in the Majors. Russell should make his debut this season. Keep an eye on his progress.
Team Analysis: Oakland won the AL West in 2012 and no one predicted them to win it again in 2013. How can we be so wrong about them year after year? They seem to get the best out of every player. Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick all had career years in Oakland. Hell, Moss and Reddick weren’t everyday players before joining the team. They once again have some of the best young arms in their rotation. Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray and A.J. Griffin could be this generation’s Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. The Rangers, Mariners and Angels all made big improvements to their offseason and the A’s bring the same starting lineup into the season. I would love to predict them to win the AL West again, but every other team in the division improved (yes, Houston even improved, but they are still horrible). I love what Texas has done and the Angels are finally all healthy. The A’s will battle for a Wild Card spot, but will not repeat as the AL West division champs. Their foundation of young players will keep them in the playoff hunt for the next five seasons.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 89 (Prediction: UNDER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 85-77 (3rd AL West)
If you want to follow the lovely lady in the photo, follow Jen on Twitter @OakAsSocksGrl
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.