As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we’re taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.
The Swingin’ A’s are back!
In that they are set to play another season of Major League Baseball.
Things don’t look too promising for the 2018 edition of the Oakland Athletics. Last year, they finished in last place in the American League West, and while several of their division-mates aren’t exactly projected to light the world on fire, either, the world-champion Houston Astros do reside there. So, uh oh.
What’s there to know about the A’s? Well, for starters, they have Marcus Semien, the former White Sox infielder who has actually been pretty good since moving to the Bay Area. Last year, he was limited to just 85 games, but he’s got a combined 52 homers in three seasons in Oakland.
What else? They fell into Stephen Piscotty and Jonathan Lucroy this offseason. Piscotty came their way once the St. Louis Cardinals realized they had too many outfielders. It’s not bad for Piscotty, who gets to be close to home and family now. And it’s certainly not bad for the A’s: Piscotty’s got a career .346 on-base percentage. Lucroy, meanwhile, probably should’ve gotten a much better gig as one of the better hitting catchers on this winter’s free-agent market. Instead, he just signed with Oakland on a one-year deal. Again, good for the A’s. Lucroy slashed .310/.429/.437 after getting traded from the Texas Rangers to the Colorado Rockies last season.
What else? What else? Oh, Khris Davis hit 43 homers last year.
Anything else? Oh yeah! Almost forgot. The A’s have a player named Boog Powell! It’s not “the” Boog Powell, the 1970 AL MVP and longtime Baltimore Orioles great. He’s 76 years old. But this Boog Powell is “a” Boog Powell. One who makes great catches like this:
— Oakland Athletics 🌳🐘⚾️ (@Athletics) March 8, 2018
But here’s what you’re thinking, probably: “Semien, Piscotty, Lucroy, Davis. Boog Powell! We get it. The A’s are basically the ’27 Yankees. But what aren’t you telling us? What about the pitching, man?”
Well, Zito, Mulder and Hudson it ain’t. Five bucks if you’ve heard of these guys: Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Andrew Triggs, Paul Blackburn.
Three of them had ERAs north of 4.00, though one of those three, Manaea, was much better during the first half of last season and had a particularly nice stretch from mid May through the end of July. The two who finished with sub-4.00 ERAs, Mengden and Blackburn, are providing some hope for the future. Mengden posted a 3.14 ERA in his seven starts. Blackburn had a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts. Maybe they’re Billy Beane’s next wave of All-Star pitching? Also on the horizon is A.J. Puk, the A’s top prospect and the No. 32 prospect in baseball.
So, yeah, that just about covers it. The A’s aren’t great. Sorry, A’s. But at least A’s fans, who are awesome, will get to drink all the 7-Up and Squirt they can afford this summer.
2017 record: 75-87, fifth place in AL West
Offseason additions: Stephen Piscotty, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Buchter, Yusmeiro Petit, Emilio Pagan
Offseason departures: Ryon Healy (worth noting that the A’s traded Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso and Ryan Madson during the 2017 season)
X-factor: It would be fun to say now-backup catcher Josh Phegley, if for no other reason than to relive the one-time South Side sensation of Pheg-mania. But instead, how about Matt Olson? Olson took over at first base after the A’s dealt Yonder Alonso to the Seattle Mariners, and he mashed 24 home runs in just 59 games. After hitting 126 homers over six minor league seasons, he finished his small sample size of 2017 big league action with a 1.003 OPS. Given a full season, maybe Olson teams with Davis to become the second coming of the Bash Brothers.
1. Marcus Semien, SS
2. Matt Joyce, LF
3. Jed Lowrie, 2B
4. Khris Davis, DH
5. Matt Olson, 1B
6. Stephen Piscotty, RF
7. Jonathan Lucroy, C
8. Matt Chapman, 3B
9. Boog Powell, CF
1. Kendall Graveman
2. Sean Manaea
3. Daniel Mengden
4. Andrew Triggs
5. Paul Blackburn
Prediction: Fifth place in AL West, no playoffs