Tue 17/03/2015 - 04:47 EDT

Oakland Athletics 2015 Season Preview

Oakland Athletics 2015 Season Preview
The Oakland's Athletics had a hectic offseason filled with some head scratching moves. Still, Oakland brings a competitive team into 2015, and has consistently performed above their salary limitations.

Futures

Odds To Win Division: +450

Odds To Win AL Pennant: 12/1

Odds To Win World Series: 25/1

Regular Season Win Total: 80.5

Most Significant Offseason Changes

Biggest Additions:

Brett Lawrie, 3B

Ben Zobrist, IF

Tyler Clippard, RP

Billy Butler, DH

Jesse Hahn, SP

Biggest Losses:

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Derek Norris, C

Jon Lester, SP

Brandon Moss, OF

Jed Lowrie, SS

Jeff Samardzija, SP

They’ll Be Successful If…

Oakland has consistently found ways to maximize their player’s production. Oakland excelled at getting players on base and creating runs in 2014. Oakland has one of the best bullpen’s in the league, and a great starting rotation. Oakland has found ways to be successful with a low payroll and unproven talent (as evidenced by the movie Moneyball). Using analytics to maximize the team’s performance over the last decade and a half, Oakland has finished above .500, 11 times in the past 15 years. Oakland’s offense excelled at getting players on base and creating runs in 2014. The A’s led the Majors with 586 walks and ranked fourth in runs per game with 4.50. Oakland’s pitching staff ranked third in team ERA (3.53) and bullpen ERA (2.91). With the addition of Tyler Clippard to the bullpen, Oakland should challenge Seattle and Cleveland as the best group in the American League. With Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija not returning in 2015, the pitching staff will need to retool on the fly, to be competitive. The effects of their departure is not as inherent as it may seem. The team struggled down the stretch after acquiring Lester at the 2014 trade deadline, even though he posted a 2.35 ERA in his 11 starts. Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez all return to the rotation in 2015, after all posting sub 3.6 ERAs in 2014. The addition of Jesse Hahn provides Oakland with a good young pitcher in the fourth spot.           

They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…

The A’s lost many quality players this offseason, either through trades or free agency. Oakland was able to secure some talented young minor league players in trades this offseason, but the return on investment will likely not come this season. The trade of Josh Donaldson (29 home runs, 98 RBIs) is particularly notable. Donaldson was arguably the best third baseman in the AL last season, and carried an affordable salary. His replacement, the electric but injury prone, Brett Lawrie will need a full season of health to come close to replacing Donaldson at the hot corner. The A’s did not find a replacement for catcher Derek Norris, the team leader in batting average in 2014. The loss of Brandon Moss (25 home runs and 81 RBIs in 2014) and Donaldson, leaves the A’s lacking much power in their lineup.      

Fantasy Bargain Player: Ben Zobrist, 2B, SS, OF

Ben Zobrist should rebound nicely in Oakland in 2015. Zobrist has excellent plate vision, having at least 72 walks from 2009 to 2014. Zobrist has extra base power, hitting at least 34 doubles the past 4 seasons (including 46 in 2011) and some home run pop (with 20 or more 3 times in his career). Zobrist comes with the added value of being listed at many different positions, making him an excellent platoon player for a fantasy team.

Outlook

With the busiest offseason in the Majors, Oakland looks to rebound from a sloppy finish to the 2014 season. The A’s will need full and productive seasons from their offseason additions to return to the playoffs in 2015. Given the competitiveness of their division rivals, Oakland looks like a middle-of-the-pack quality team, that will likely finish 2015 hovering around the .500 mark.

 

 

Prediction: 3rd In AL West

Category : Archives

Tag : Athletics , baseball , mlb , Oakland Athletics , Oakland Athletics 2015 Season Preview

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