You would think the recent success of the Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors this past year would inspire the Oakland Athletics to exceed the low expectations they have going into 2017. With their current roster, snapping playoff droughts and record-breaking seasons look to be far off into the California sunset for the A’s.
With a record of 69-93, the A’s finished last in the AL West and have drastically changed since their last playoff team in 2014. The A’s have parted ways with quality players such as Jon Lester, Josh Reddick, and Yoenis Cespedes, since and now rely on a younger crop of players to develop.
Khris Davis had a breakout year for the A’s this past season. He tallied 42 home runs and 102 RBIs nearly doubling his season totals from last year. The A’s hope 2016 wasn’t an aberration as he will again be relied heavily on to produce this season.
The Ben Zobrist of the A’s, Danny Valencia, had a solid year that made his name swirl in trade talks throughout the season. As a third baseman, 17 home runs and 51 RBIs are nothing to break the bank over, but as a utility man, his value amplifies. With teams trending towards playing as an ameba of position fewer ball players look for Valencia’s trade value to increase as the season goes on.
The Marcus Semien experience has been a rocky road for the A’s heading into 2016. This past season, Semien smoothed out the path with his offensive production. 27 homers and 75 RBIs would be elite level production for most AL shortstops. However, Semien’s defense has made him a liability. This year will be important as the A’s continue to weigh the value of his offense if he still manages to be one of the league’s worst defenders at the most valuable position.
The A’s added a little offensive punch to go with Semien and Davis with the addition of Rajai Davis. For a team that ranked last in the AL in On-Base Percentage and runs scored, Davis’s 43 stolen bases and career .314 On-Base Percentage should give the A’s a spark at the top of their order.
One of the A’s biggest question marks offensively is at the bottom of the order in catcher Stephen Vogt. Vogt ranked in the top 5 among AL catchers in RBIs and at age 32, still has value to a contender. Vogt could easily remain an Oakland Athletic for the rest of his career as he has become a fan favorite in Northern California, or he could add depth to a lineup in need of an above average bat at the catcher position.
With all the upside their offense has their pitching is raising more questions than answers. Is this the beginning of Sonny Gray’s decline as he went an abysmal 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA? Will anyone be able to fill the gap Lester left two seasons ago next to Gray? How long will it take for Sean Manea to develop into a quality starter that can eat up 150 innings consistently? What will the A’s offer in order to get an ace this offseason? Or will they wait for the deadline?
The Oakland A’s are a young team that will continue to experience the growing pains of a rebuilding team until they can bolster their roster with the addition of a superstar caliber player. Until then, the A’s will remain the gateway to the AL West’s worst.
- I'm a 19-year old sophomore dual major in Journalism and Sports Management at Eastern Nazarene College. Born in Boston, MA raised in Brockton, and just happy to be here at NGSC Sports.