Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts

So one of the posts I never got around to publishing before the season began was my preview of all 30 clubs. In a lot of ways it's probably good that that post never came out because I really phoned it in on half of the league (ie the rebuilding/tanking teams). But sometimes I wish I had published it just so I could claim to the one who made various bold statements.

My biggest take that I was unusually proud of in my scrapped post was that I thought the Oakland Athletics were going to be better than they appeared to be.

Now, let me be perfectly clear and say that that doesn't mean I had them pegged to be contenders for the division or the two wild cards. What that does mean though is that I think everybody wrote off the A's to be worse than they'd actually be.

I mean I get it. They're the faceless A's who don't have a bonafide superstar anymore, plus they play in a toilet bowl of a stadium.

That said, forget about their gaudy green uniforms or the terrible stadium or the fact that it's in Bay Area for a second. Just ignore the Oakland A's brand altogether and look at the players they've got on their major league roster.

You'll probably notice that the offense is a clear strength.

Khris Davis, Chad Pinder, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have A LOT of power. It may not feel like it because their home run totals don't jump off of the page but they are capable of hitting dingers to orbit when opposing pitchers make a mistake.

Stephen Piscotty, Boog Powell, Marcus Semien (always one typo away from being spelled Semen), Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy have less power, but they make up for it by having insane on-base skills. Sidenote, my condolences to Piscotty and his family in light of recent events.

My point is that these are guys who are capable of smacking the ball to all parts of the field (and beyond it). It all adds up to a very good offense that'll deserve a lot of credit when people see that the A's weren't totally abysmal this season.

Also keep in mind that this season the young talent they're going to bring up at various points of the season are extremely talented and also eager to make an impact. Franklin Barreto quickly jumps out as a guy who will probably take a big league job and work his damnedest to never let it go.

Of course I'm also super eager to see what becomes of the former Yankees prospects sent to the A's after last year's Sonny Gray trade. Jorge Mateo is a legitimately good shortstop who could probably be a better hitter than Semien (almost typed Semen again) if he can cut down on the strikeouts. Dustin Fowler is a super good outfielder, and if it weren't for that fluke injury in his MLB debut, we'd all probably talking about how damn good he is.

Now of course, when people say that the A's aren't going to be contenders, they're not wrong. I mean I'm high on their offense but their pitching will clearly bring about their downfall.

Sean Manaea threw a no-hitter (against the Red Sox lololol), but beyond him there's... nothing.

I mean I like Daniel Megedin just fine but I'm not sure he's number two in the rotation good. If he were a fourth or fifth starter I'd be perfectly content with that. But alas, the A's rotation is so thin that they're relying on Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson like it's still 2010.

AJ Puk probably wouldn't have been called up this season but it doesn't matter anyway since he's out with Tommy John surgery. Jesus Luzardo is a fun name to keep an eye on though for A's pitchers that might make an impact next season. After them you've got former Yankees first rounder James Kaprielian and former Dodgers first rounder Grant Holmes. Neither of which have really indicated that they're ready to pitch in 2018 yet, let alone the big leagues.

There are probably a bunch of other A's pitchers I'm missing but as far as I can tell their farmsystem is top heavy on position players and not so much on pitching, so I'm just gonna stop it at that.

As far as their bullpen goes they're relying on a bunch of relievers who were castoffs from other teams. I mean they're so-so relievers so the A's might manage to get some value out of them, but at the same time they'll probably give up a maddeningly high number of home runs and walks as relievers figuring things out tend to do.

All in all, I think the A's have a chance to be a pretty good middle of the pack team. The team that's not quite tanking/losing on purpose but also not contending either. Their offense is far too talented (and surprisingly deep) to lose 100 games. But their pitching is also far too inept and bad to allow them to win any more than 75 games.

We're not even at the halfway mark and they've shown themselves to be spoilers in key AL races. Like how they've managed to completely stop and steamroll any momentum the juggernaut Red Sox and world-beating Yankees had. They'll probably be a huge problem for teams like the Astros, Angels, Mariners, Blue Jays and Twins (they're done) too.

To put it another way, this team would probably be a decent contender if it were in the NL because that the drop off in quality when you go from the AL to the NL is absolutely huge.

So a little reassurance for our good friend Fuji, as his beloved A's are the winners of my prestigious "Likely Not Going To Be That Bad Award" in 2018. They'll still lose a lot but they won't be sub-.500 level terrible and hopefully some reinforcements for a brighter future start to pop up.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. Those are some brand name prospects. Will be interesting to see how they all come together before they are all traded away.

    1. If they all come together. Manaea's time in OAK is running out.

  2. "drop off in quality when you go from the AL to the NL is absolutely huge" I think the National league is higher quality. Huh, so there. lol. At least our pitchers bat for themselves like real ball players. Go Braves!

    1. I think the AL is better at the top, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, and maybe the Angels (if they're for real) and Indians (if they get it together). That being said, the NL is currently 34-19 against the AL in interleague play, thanks in large part to the Pirates being 9-2 against some of the AL's dregs.

    2. @John Miller: Well the AL has the only pitcher who can actually hit lol. That said, the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Nationals came come into the AL. Lesser teams like the Rays and Tigers can go to the NL in their place.

      @Raz: Yeah, the AL Central is a total shitshow. Bring the good NL clubs into there and get rid of the non-Clevelands. lol.

  3. I know Billy Beane came out and said that the A's need to start retaining some players in order for the fans to start caring about the team. They have some really fun players this year.

    1. Well good luck with that. I think they're too tired up in stadium BS right now to care about long term contracts.

  4. As usual... thank you for the in-depth report on my team. It's even better when I read that they won't be the laughing stock of the American League. I've been pleasantly surprised by their .500 performance this season. Figured they'd be much worse than this.

    I'll keep an eye out for Jesus Luzardo, James Kaprielian, and Grant Holmes. I had heard Holmes name before, but the other guys are new to me.

    1. They don't play in the AL Central so they're not going to be a laughing stock. That said, their middling status won't really help with their prospects at landing a good draft pick next year.

    2. Lol... build me up. Then knock me down ;)