The Athletics haven't finished over .500 since 2014, and they don't figure to this year, either. Having gone the tear-down-and-rebuild route, the East Bay might see a winner in the next year or three, but for 2018 the young A's will look, well, young. There are a couple of veterans on hand in catcher Jonathan Lucroy and outfielder/DH Kris Davis, and Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien are still around. Beyond them, though, you may be hard-pressed to spot anyone you recognize.
Of those youngsters, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson seem to be the potential breakouts. Chapman has flashed some leather at third base and mashed 14 homers in half a season last year, while Olson showed a typical Oakland-style patience at the plate and impressive power in his 59 games in 2017. The A's also have two promising center field options in Dustin Fowler, who arrived in the Sonny Gray trade with New York last season, and former Mariner Boog Powell. Fowler's Major League experience to date is one appearance as a defensive replacement, but Powell impressed with a late-season stint in Oakland after being traded for Yonder Alonso. On the mound, things aren't so promising; the A's figure to have a rotation without an ace, with five guys trying to hold their own while Oakland waits for help to develop in the minor leagues.
Players to Watch
Stephen Piscotty: A former first-round draft choice, Piscotty had an impressive sophomore season with the Cardinals, batting .273 with 22 homers, then slumped last year and spent significant time in the minors. That made him expendable in St. Louis, and now the East Bay native and Stanford graduate will have a shot at the everyday right field job in Oakland.
Matt Olson: Of Olson's 24 Major League home runs last year, 13 were hit in the month of September, a rookie record, including a streak of five consecutive games with a longball. His power has been compared favorably to that of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, but the sample size is still small. He also has enough patience to take his walks, evidenced by on-base percentages around 100 points over his batting averages throughout his pro career.
Khris Davis: Now relegated to DH, the defensively-challenged Davis can focus completely on his hitting. The fee-swinger has gone yard 85 times over two seasons in Oakland, while also striking out 361 times. He's the only Athletic besides Hall-of-Famer Jimmie Foxx to post back-to-back 40+ homer seasons.
Bob Melvin: Now entering his seventh full season as manager of the A's, Melvin has proven to be well-suited to the Oakland environs. His quieter, more laid-back approach wasn't appreciated in Seattle after we all had gotten used to the energetic antics of Lou Piniella, and despite success with the Diamondbacks, he was canned out of frustration in Phoenix, where it was suggested he was scapegoated by then-GM Josh Byrnes because of poor results by Byrnes' player acquisitions. Oakland, though, appreciates what it's got, having given the two-time Manager of the Year a contract extension through 2019 and denied the Yankees permission to interview Melvin when they were looking to hire a new manager last winter.
Emilio Pagán: As a rookie in 2017, Pagán threw 501⁄3 innings in relief for the M's and did pretty well. He had a 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and was particularly effective at Safeco Field (2.92 ERA and a remarkable 0.73 WHIP in 242⁄3 innings). He was dealt to the Athletics in exchange for Ryon Healy in a swap of promising youngsters last November.
|Oakland Athletics||(1968 - present)|
|World Champions:||1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989|
|League Champions:||1905, 1914, 1931, 1990|
|Division Titles:||1971, 1975, 1981, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013|