The filthiest pitcher in baseball. The league leader in home runs. An infield with four gold glove nominations, and two winners. All while holding the lowest payroll in baseball. The future looks bright in Oakland, well, now Howard Bay Terminal… Never finding their groove since the Jeter flip in 2001, the Oakland Athletics look to continue being one of the most surprising stories in baseball. Building on the foundation of Billy Beane, the turnaround of the Oakland A’s has been a slow mind numbing lull. Reaching the postseason after a 97 win season, the Athletics continue to open the eyes of East Coast non believers. No one expects them to be here, yet they are shining as bright as their west coast market allows them to be. Going up against the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees, can the A’s ever run the table in the American League? The Oakland Athletics will be here to stay for the next three years because of their golden infield, historical bullpen, and exciting new fan base.
KEEP THE INFIELD
Matt Olson, Marcus Semien, Jed Lowrie, and Matt Chapman were all nominated for MLB’s highest award in terms of fielding. Matt Chapman took home the trophy for third base, and Matt Olson at first. Additionally to his gold glove, Matt Chapman earned the Platinum Glove for the AL, the highest prestige of an award for defensive players in the American League. His former high school teammate (they were teammates you know), Nolan Arenado, won the prize on the National League side. Tallying 484 chances at third base, Chapman accounted for 464 outs, only allowing 20 errors, resulting in a 95.9% fielding rate. Chapman saved more defensive runs than he allowed errors, with an unheard of 29 defensive runs saved. In his second year, the only way to go is up for Chapman. Playing first base Matt Olson was presented with 1494 chances, and accounted for an astounding 1404 putouts, resulting in a 99.5% fielding percentage. The infield for sure has a lot of talent and this is in no shortage thanks to Olson who will catch anything within his galaxy. The tandem up the middle belongs to Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie, both of whom were nominated for a gold glove, but neither of them winning. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson both entirely deserve to be the cornerstone (literally) of this franchise, with Chapman at 25 years old and Olson at 24. Jed Lowrie May be losing a tick of speed whilst getting up there in age at 34, so developing a middle infield prospect under the wings of Lowrie would be for the best. In only his third season of 600+ plate appearances, Marcus Semien can still be considered baseball young. This young core should look forward to a competitive run with their division counterparts in the always consistent Houston Astros.
FIND A ROTATION
Per MLB.com, the Oakland Athletics have three starting pitchers listed on the roster. Certainly raising unconventional methods in the playoffs, the A’s managed to create a competitive game in the evil empire in the American League wild card game. At the helm of the limited rotation, Sean Manaea will miss the entire 2019 due to arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder. To fill the gaping hole left in the one spot, the A’s could look to sign the highest WAR pitcher remaining in the 31 year old posting a career 3.6 WAR in Dallas Keuchel. Though unlikely, it renaming an option. The remaining choices are slim pickings, with the best of being washed up J.A. Happ, Matt Harvey and Clay Buchholz. All the Athletics need to do every game is get to the sixth in a competitive game, where they can go to their star studded bullpen of Lou Trivino, ole’ reliable Fernando Rodney, and the best closer in baseball of Blake Treinen.
GET THE HELL OUT OF THE COLISEUM
A renowned trash can. Players asking fans for attendance like a high school regular season game. Even opponents grateful for their new stadium. The Oakland Coliseum sucked. No matter your fandom, your team allegiance, it has grown to common knowledge that baseball has outgrown this stadium.
Matt Chapman is the latest A’s player to step up and make a public plea to the Oakland fanbase. After posting multiple highlight reel defensive plays to go with three doubles, three runs and a pair of RBI, the second-year third basemen ended his night off with a blatant message. “I just want to use this time to just encourage people in Oakland to come out, man, All the fans and support we can get, we can really appreciate it. Tonight, we’re fighting ‘til the very end against the Mariners and I just wish we can get some people out here, man. We’re fun to watch. We really want our fans to come out and support us, it’d be great”. The 25 year old Chapman pled while in the midst of a playoff run holding a 71-48 record, only raking in 10,400 fans. That’s 2018 Marlins level bad right there. Moving to Howard Bay Terminal, as the Warriors dynasty slowly crumbles maybe citizens of the Bay Area will recognize the basketball team is not the only rejuvenating association in their city. Full of youth and a rebrand, the Oakland Athletics look to launch an all out attack on the league whole slowly climbing the ladder in the payroll race, eventually competing with the Red Sox and Yankees.
My prediction for 2019: Join the 100 win club with Blake Treinen leading the league in saves, Khris Davis hits 50 home runs, ALDS appearance.
2020: WIN in the ALDS, with Matt Chapman finishing top 3 in AL MVP race
2021: ALCS appearance on a roller coaster of a season after signing a dominant starting pitcher arriving in town and a fourth straight gold glove for Matt Olson and Matt Chapman