The AL West could be one of the most dominate divisions in baseball. Houston has come of age and are now the favorites, Texas is always looking to get better, the Angels have Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and Seattle could make a move with a new manager.
Does Oakland finally pull the trigger and trade ace Sonny Gray for a huge load of prospects?
Here is the 2016 MLB season preview for the Oakland A’s…and enjoy our #BadMSPaint Khris Davis picture.
2015 Win/Loss Record: 68-94
Key Additions: OF Khris Davis, 1B Yonder Alonso, 3B Jed Lowrie, SP Rich Hill, SP Henderson Alvarez, OF Chris Coghlan, RP John Axford, RP Liam Hendriks, RP Ryan Madson, RP Marc Rzepczynski & RP Taylor Thompson
Key Losses: 3B Brett Lawrie, SP Drew Pomeranz, RP Fernando Abad, RP Evan Scribner, RP Dan Otero, RP Edward Mujica, RP Jesse Chavez, RP Pat Venditte, 1B Ike Davis & RP Arnold Leon
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Stephen Vogt, Yonder Alonso, Jed Lowrie, Danny Valencia, Marcus Semien, Khris Davis, Billy Burns, Josh Reddick & Billy Butler
Projected Starting Rotation: Sonny Gray, Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Rich Hill & Chris Bassitt
Closer: Sean Doolittle
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Rich Hill – Rich Hill was once a promising prospect with the Chicago Cubs. He would be lights out in Triple-A and on road games in the Majors, but the guy just couldn’t pitch at Wrigley Field. It must have been a mental thing. He has bounced around as a starter and seemed to find his role as a reliever the last few years. Well, Hill had a few starts for Boston at the end of last year and was almost unhittable. It lead him to sign as a starter for Oakland. I think he could just be a late-bloomer. He could have a nice late-career resurrection.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Sean Manaea – Manaea was drafted in 2013 out of college and seems to be on a fast track to the Majors. He spent time in Rookie, Hi-A and Double-A last season. After he was traded from the Royals, he was amazing on the A’s Double-A team in Midland. He wa 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA in 42 innings. He could be the next young Oakland starter to have success in the Majors. I think the earliest he could make his debut is midseason.
Team Analysis: I tend to be bullish on Oakland every year. It didn’t work out in my favor last year, but I’ve been more right than wrong. I have a lot of faith in Billy Beane.
Oakland made some small trades and non-risky signings this offseason. Khris Davis seems to be a quintessential Billy Beane player. He walks and hits for power, but strikes out a lot. I also like them re-acquiring Jed Lowrie and trading for Chris Coghlan.
Oakland let most of their bullpen walk and signed some low-risk veterans like Ryan Madson, John Axford and Marc Rzepcynski to eat some late innings. The park metrics should help these guys after pitching most of their careers in homer-prone ballparks.
On paper, not much about Oakland stands out. They are in a tough AL West, but I see a lot of scrappy players. The only superstar on the team is Sonny Gray, who will get hammered with trade rumors all season. I just think this team has a shot to surprise a lot of people. They remind me of a lot of the early-00’s Oakland teams.
I’m being conservative with my win total prediction, but at the very least, they should win 76 games.
2016 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 75.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2016 Projected Win/Loss Record: 76-86 (4th-tie in AL West)
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.