Athletics 2017 Season Preview
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MLB Athletics Predictions & Handicapping Insight
The Oakland Athletics enter the 2017 Season
2017 MLB Team Previews – Oakland Athletics
- American League West +1400
- American League +6600
- World Series +15000
- Santiago Casilla
- Trevor Plouffe
- Rajai Davis
- Matt Joyce
Rajai Davis returns to Oakland for a third tour of duty with the club. Davis will man centerfield and provide some excellent speed on the base paths.
He’ll replace Coco Crisp on the roster and should have a shot to play every day after platooning or losing starts in the last few seasons. He had a career year in 2016 with 12 homeruns and 43 steals, though don’t expect those power numbers to be replicated in the pitchers’ park in Oakland.
Trevor Plouffe and Matt Joyce were each in similar positions to Davis, sharing time at their respective positions with other clubs before joining the A’s. Plouffe will need to hold off the promising Ryan Healy at 3B, or else slide to a new spot or DH to get full at bats.
Here’s a look at the key losses for the team, including one of their top hitters from a season ago in Danny Valencia. Valencia hit .287 with 17 homers and 72 runs scoring in 130 games with the A’s in 2016.
- Danny Valencia
- Billy Butler
- Mark Rzepczynski
- Ryan Madson
- Billy Burns
The starting lineup should be mediocre at best, looking for career years from multiple veterans and significant contributions from the young players to have a shot.
Athletics Predictions: Projected Lineup:
- CF Rajai Davis
- 2B Jed Lowrie
- RF Matt Joyce
- LF Kris Davis
- 3B Trevor Plouffe
- C Stephen Vogt
- DH Matt Olson
- 1B Yonder Alonso
- SS Marcus Semien
The lineup doesn’t look great by any means to kick off the year, though there is some solid power potential in the middle, with Kris Davis being their best homerun hitter by a long shot.
Davis had 42 homers and 102 RBI last season, which the A’s will need him to replicate.
Athletics Predictions: Projected Rotation:
- RH Kendall Graveman
- LH Sean Manaea
- RH Andrew Triggs
- RH Jharel Cotton
- RH Jesse Hahn
The loss of Sonny Gray, who was recently shut down due to a lat strain, makes Kendall Graveman the de facto “ace” and opening day starter.
This is shaping up to be one of the worst starting rotations in baseball, though there is certainly upside between Manaea and Cotton, one of whom may emerge as the ace by mid-season.
Athletics Predictions: Projected Closer:
- RH Santiago Casilla
Santiago Casilla comes back to Oakland, where he began his career and played 6 seasons before heading to San Francisco Giants, where he played the last seven years. The 36 year old veteran saved 31 games a season ago, and has back-to-back years of 30+ saves. The A’s will need him to continue his production despite father time creeping up on him.
The staff overall is sub-par, and the A’s should not be in contention this year. They play in the difficult AL West. The loss of Sonny Gray doesn’t help, and lat strains can linger.
Gray had a rough year in 2016, after being considered a top-30 pitcher entering the season.
The question will be if Sean Manaea or Jharel Cotton, both of whom performed well in last year, can take another step in their development and turn into a legitimate 1-2 punch, to go along with Gray once he’s healthy, and hopefully effective.
Casilla provides some additional veteran leadership in the clubhouse, and clearly knows how to win after spending half of his career in San Francisco.
If the A’s are out of contention after the All-Star Break, which they are likely to be, Casilla and fellow veteran reliever, John Axford, could both be moved for future pieces as Oakland continues to re-tool.
2017 Oakland Athletics Prediction:
This team seemingly needs everything to go right, which rarely happens in baseball. The A’s continue to pinch pennies and look for big performances from undervalued assets brought in on budgets.
The lineup features Kris Davis, who has developed into one of the MLB’s best power hitters and be a fixture in the heart of their lineup for years to come.
Davis finished 2016 in a tie for 3rd overall in homers, a stat that will be difficult to repeat without much lineup protection.
Can Franklin Barreto come up and make an immediate impact, as he was acquired to be their future superstar infielder? Barreto was the key piece in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson, one of the game’s best players, to Toronto.
The other pieces acquired in the deal haven’t made an impact for Oakland and much of the deal hinges on Barreto’s performance.
Prediction: 5th in the AL West.
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