Oakland Athletics Set For Another Tough Year
Josh Reddick will be doing his best to help the A's improve this season. (Photo credit: USA Today)

The Oakland Athletics plummetted in the standings last season, finishing with only 64 wins at years end. After enjoying playoff races in recent seasons, it now looks like the Athletics will need to spend some time rebuilding as they were the last place team in the American League by a fairly wide margin. Heading into last year, the A's traded away team MVP Josh Donaldson, and that could have had a major impact on the teams 20 game drop in the standings, but they did receive some prospects in the deal and they could help redeem that trade for the A's yet. Going into 2016 and looking at the Oakland roster, there aren't a whole lot of players that the everday fan will even recognize, much less have the upside to take the team to the winning side of things. It appears that things are set up for Sonny Gray to be the best player on the team this year like he was last year, the only problem is that he won't be able to turn the team around himself.

Listen to Tyler talk A's with Chris Teevan

Key Additions

Jed Lowrie, Yonder Alonso, Rich Hill, Ryan Madson, Liam Hendricks, John Axford, Henderson Alvarez, Mark Rzepczynski, Zach Erwin, JB Wendelken, Matt McBride, Viosergy Rosa, Andrew Lambo, Danny Oh, Alex Glenn, Chris Smith, Eric Surkamp, Eduard Santos, Patrick Schuster, Trey Cochran-Gill

Key Subtractions

Brett Lawrie, Evan Scribner, Drew Pomeranz, Jesse Chavez, Ike Davis, Craig Gentry, Pat Venditte, Cody Martin Frernando Abad, Edward Mujica, AJ Griffin, Barry Zito, Jason Pridie, Brendan McCurry, Carson Blair, Bryan Anderson, Arnold Leon, Jose Torres, Brad Mills

Biggest Strength - Depth

This Athletics team has almost zero household names, but the team is fairly well stacked with major league ready depth and have a scattering of prospects who look like they could eventually be very good. As stated before, the lineup looks pretty bad when you look at the starters. Guys like Danny Valencia, Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie are hitting in the premier spots in the lineup and other than Sonny Gray, the pitching rotation is filled with questionable guys, but there are some ok looking minor league guys who could step in if needed. If the Athletics end up winning some games this year, it will likely be in the middle of the year when other teams with significantly less depth are hurting. Prospects Athletics fans should be excited about include but aren't limited to first baseman Matt Olson, shortstop Franlkin Barreto and pitcher Sean Manaea.

Biggest Weakness - Offense

The only hitter on the team who appears that he should be where he's hitting is Billy Burns, who could be a legitimate leadoff hitter for many teams in the league. Other than that, this team looks pretty bad. Danny Valencia hasn't been able to find a regular spot in the MLB and now he's probably slotting in as the everyday clean-up hitter. Josh Reddick has been very inconsistent as well. He would be a legitimate hitter out of the six hole, but it looks like he needs to hit 3rd on this team. Marcus Semien is a pretty good offensive option compared to other shortstops in the league, but he's in the minority on the Athletics. It could be a long year for the A's and the team just needs to find more offense somewhere. 

Something To Keep An Eye On - Matt Olson

Matt Olson is a 22 year old lefty first baseman starting the season in AAA who appears to be a future star hitter. Since the Athletics are pretty bad at the first base position at the MLB level, Olson should get the call this season and when he does, he will likely be the best hitter on the team and slot into the 3rd or 4th spot in the lineup. Last year was actually a down year for Olson when he hit 17 homers and had an on base percentage of .388, which is still elite. In 2014 Olson was absolutely dominant with an OBP over .400 and 41 home runs. This team is in deperate need of him coming up and performing for years to come. Since the team isn't expected to be competitive this year, they could be patient with him to allow maximum development, but when the time comes, be excited for him to get the call.

Getty Images
There are very high hopes for Olson. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^

  1. Billy Burns^ - CF
  2. Jed Lowrie^ - 2B
  3. Josh Reddick* - RF
  4. Danny Valencia - 3B
  5. Stephen Vogt* - C
  6. Khris Davis - LF
  7. Billy Butler - DH
  8. Yonder Alonso* - 1B
  9. Marcus Semien - SS

Projected Bench

Josh Phegley, Mark Canha, Chris Coghlan*, Coco Crisp^

Projected Rotation… Lefties*

  1. Sonny Gray
  2. Rich Hill*
  3. Chris Bassitt
  4. Kendall Graveman
  5. Felix Doubront*

Projected Bullpen

Sean Doolittle*, Ryan Madson, Liam Hendricks, John Axford, Marc Rzepczynski*, Fernando Rodriguez, Ryan Dull

Starting On The DL

Eric Sogard*, Sam Fuld*, Henderson Alvarez, RJ Alvarez, Jarrod Parker

Fantasy Bargain - Marcus Semien

Although Semien was awful in the field last season, he was quietly the number 10 overall shortstop in fantasy. He is a member of the power/speed combo club and he puts up average on base numbers. He is a threat for a 20/20 season if he can stay in the lineup, which could actually be an issue because of his terrible defense. Maybe he'll move over to second and have an easier time there.

Overrated Fantasy Option - Stephen Vogt

People are fairly low on this team, so there aren't many guys getting overrated by very much. One guy who could be getting drafted a little bit high is Steven Vogt. He started the season off very well hitting a lot for power and average, but then fell off of a cliff. His second half numbers ended up being atrocious, but his first half numbers picked up his second half enough for people to draft him fairly high. He shouldn't be considered an undraftable guy by any means, but temper your expectations and expect him to be inconsistent again.

Conclusion/Season Prediction

Oakland isn't very good and they didn't do much to improve their team this offseason. There are a few prospects that should be intersting to keep an eye on, but other than that the team is likely in for a long season. They should bring up the rear in the weakest division in baseball and expect a win total in the low 60's.

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