A’s grading more like D’s
March 13, 2018 3:00 AM
by Mark Mayer
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 16th of 30 at-bats for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. On deck Wednesday, the New York Mets)
When we first approached the Oakland Athletics the outlook was grim, after all they did finish last in the AL West the past three years. But “Moneyball” himself GM Billy Beane may be working his magic again.
Outfielder Khris Davis, acquired from Milwaukee in 2016, is coming off back to back 40 homer seasons. Even Reggie Jackson didn’t do that when he was with the A’s. In fact, only the legendary Jimmie Foxx had.
First baseman Matt Olson became Rhys Hoskins west last season when he hit 13 homers in just 79 at-bats last September. He averaged one homer every 7.88 plate appearances. Only Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire (twice) were better.
Third baseman Matt Chapman played in the same little league with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and has been favorably compared defensively to six-time Gold Glove Award winner Eric Chavez. And, he is lauded for his leadership qualities.
The A’s also brought in outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who became the odd man out in St. Louis. Piscotty, a former first round draft pick, should hit more than 9 homers now in a new environment where he will have a starting position.
Kevin Graveman figured to be Oakland’s opening day starter and may still be, but for now he is on the 10-day disabled list. The future could be in A.J. Puk, the sixth pick in the 2016 draft and a version of Randy Johnson complete with the long flowing locks. In the minors he has struck out 224 batters in just under 158 innings.
Those are the hopeful signs in Oakland. The current reality is being expected to win less than 75 games in a division where they are the longest shot at 40-1 and looking way up at the defending world champion Houston Astros.
Encore: The A’s open the season facing the Los Angeles Angels seven times in the first 10 games.
2017 record: 75-87
2016 record: 69-93
2015 record: 68-94
World Series win odds: 150-1
Odds to win AL West: 40-1 (5th)
2018 season win total: 74.5