The Oakland A’s were far from their ‘Moneyball’ days last year. They have been hit with injuries to their starting rotation and Sonny Gray is expected to start the year on the DL again this year.
The AL West could be one of the most dominate divisions in baseball. Houston has come of age and are now one of the favorites, Texas should be an offensive powerhouse and Seattle made some big moves this Winter.
Oakland was able to land some good prospects when they traded Rich Hill and Josh Reddick at the deadline last year. If Gray gets healthy and returns to form, do they try to move him as well?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Oakland A’s.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 69-93
Key Additions: 3B Trevor Plouffe, RP Santiago Cassilla, OF Rajai Davis, OF Matt Joyce, OF Alejandro De Aza, 3B Adam Rosales, C Ryan Lavarnway & 1B Chris Parmalee
Key Losses: 3B Danny Valencia, OF Brett Eibner & SS Arismendy Alcantara
Interleague Schedule: NL East
Projected Starters: Stephen Vogt, Yonder Alonso, Jed Lowrie, Trevor Plouffe, Marcus Semien, Khris Davis, Rajah Davis, Matt Joyce & Ryon Healy
Projected Starting Rotation: Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton & Jesse Hahn
Closer: Ryan Madson
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Jharel Cotton – Cotton was part of the package when they A’s sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers last season. He was called up soon after had a 2.15 ERA in 29 innings over five starts. He has nasty stuff and should average over a strike out an inning. He also has good control compared to the average strikeout pitcher. He could be a steal if you draft him late in your draft.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: 3B Matt Chapman – The A’s signed Trevor Plouffe this offseason to keep third base warm while Chapman gets a little more seasoning in the minors. He was the 25th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft and has shown his power potential in the minors. He hasn’t been able to hit for average and strikeouts could become a huge issue for the young power hitter. If Chapman can figure out Triple-A pitching, you could see him in the Majors late this season.
Team Analysis: The A’s have a typical Billy Beane lineup. They have power hitters on cheap contracts and guys who are OBP machines. They also have a nice set of young starters who the A’s have on rookie deals and can lean on for a few years.
The AL West has turned into a extremely competitive division. The Rangers, Mariners and Astros are all expected to contend for playoff spots. The A’s are a team with flaws and will struggle against the best teams in the league. I think if their young starters stay healthy and can learn from the experience they earn this year, it could pay dividends the next few years.
The A’s always tend to outperform expectations and I expect them to win a few more games than their 73.5 over/under win total. The A’s are a hard team to handicap, mostly because I have the utmost respect for the A’s front office. They are always ahead of the analytic curve. I hope one day that Beane is able to build a team with a free-spending owner’s checkbook.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 73.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 75-87 (4th 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.