2015 Season Previews: Oakland Athletics

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

Oakland Athletics

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 83-79 (3rd in AL West, 10th in MLB)

Manager: Bob Melvin (325-260 in four seasons with Oakland, 818-768 in 11 seasons overall)

Top Three Players: SS Ben Zobrist (4.3), 3B Brett Lawrie (3.7), C Stephen Vogt (2.8)

Bounce-back Player: OF Josh Reddick

After having a breakout 2012, when he hit 32 home runs in his age-25 season, Reddick has battled injuries the last two seasons. In 2013, it was his right wrist and in 2014 it was his right knee, and he’s already dealt with an oblique injury this spring. It would be easy to turn and run from him considering his laundry list of injuries, but Reddick is quite capable of the type of numbers that he had in 2012. He may have lost Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes since this time last year, but the A’s have an interesting compilation of versatile talent. Reddick won’t boost any fantasy leagues with his batting average, but the power is huge and with offense down, Reddick is a nice, overlooked power source.

Hahn will be a solid contributor in Oakland Courtesy: sfgate.com
Hahn will be a solid contributor in Oakland
Courtesy: sfgate.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: RHP Jesse Hahn

A sixth round pick in 2010 by the Rays out of the collegiate baseball hotbed that is the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka Virginia Tech), Hahn moved quickly before reaching the majors with the Padres last season, tossing all of 163.1 innings in the minors prior to logging 73.1 in San Diego. Hahn was acquired from the Friars for Derek Norris, one of the flurry of moves by busy beaver Billy Beane. Though he had Tommy John surgery in August of 2010, he has remained free and clear of injuries since then, while demonstrating the ability to miss bats with his 8.6 K:9 last season in the majors. Hahn will start the second game of the season for the A’s, and he, like many before him, will post very impressive numbers in the pitcher-friendly confines of Oakland Coliseum.

Offseason Overview: Busy, busy Billy Beane spent another offseason making moves to remake his ballclub, raising eyebrows by dealing an MVP candidate before erasing all of the question marks and leaving his players and fans excited for another season of contention. Gone from last season’s roster are Jon Lester and Jason Hammel (via free agency), and Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, and Brandon Moss (via trade). Those spots have been filled by Hahn, Lawrie, Zobrist, Marcus Semien, and Kendall Graveman, all acquired through trades, and Billy Butler, signed through free agency. There isn’t a rebuild mode in Beane’s vocabulary, as he found unique ways to acquire useful talent to reload his roster.

The Verdict: Beane will look like a genius when this retooling works out. There isn’t an “if” in that statement because this team is deep and very talented. While the system isn’t loaded with top-notch minor league talent, but you can never count out a random acquisition of prospects when you have the leadership that you do in Oakland. A solid, young rotation, anchored by RHP Sonny Gray, will continue to keep the opposition from scoring, just like their home park. The offense doesn’t have a Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera to haunt the dreams of pitchers, but it seems like the entire lineup is capable of above average production at their respective positions. Oakland is a playoff-caliber team, capable of several wins better than their PECOTA-projected 83. Look for another contender by the bay again in 2015.

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