Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 MLB Preview #1: Oakland Athletics

Greetings everyone! If the title didn't give it away, I'm starting a full 30-part MLB preview with this post about the Oakland A's. For those that care, I'm going with the AL First (starting with the West) and by reverse order-of-finish division by division. Let's get to it!


C - Kurt Suzuki
1B - Brandon Allen/Daric Barton
2B - Jemile Weeks
SS - Cliff Pennington
3B - Scott Sizemore (update: torn ACL, out for year, replaced by Eric Sogard, yikes)
LF - Seth Smith
CF - Coco Crisp
RF - Josh Reddick
DH - Chris Carter/Johnny Gomes

This lineup isn't as bad as you may think by the names on it, but it certainly doesn't qualify as a strong suit. Suzuki anchors the pitching staff defensively, but he had a sub .700 OPS last year and has fallen off a bit as a hitter. The Allen/Barton combo is about as weak as it gets at 1st base, and while I really like Scott Sizemore (again, injured), there's not a single infielder here that's an above average hitter. Seth Smith may be the best hitter in this lineup, but his career .830 OPS is mostly a product of being a platoon guy in Colorado. I really like Crisp defensively and on the basepaths (49 stolen bases in 2011), but health issues are always the concern for him, and Reddick is relatively unproven in RF. I simply don't think there's enough power in the middle of this lineup to sustain scoring at a level that will bring winning.

Starting Pitching

1 - Brandon McCarthy
2 - Dallas Braden
3 - Brett Anderson
4 - Brad Peacock
5 - Jarrod Parker

So much young talent in this rotation, but the question marks are aplenty. McCarthy took a giant leap in 2011 while posting an ERA of 3.32 and a WHIP of 1.13 since he finally stayed healthy for a full campaign. His stuff has never been the issue, and if he stays healthy for back-to-back years, they are all set in the #1 spot. Braden throw only 15 innings last year, and is another health risk, but he did post a 3.50 ERA in 192 innings in 2010 and has shown he can be effective. The absolute biggest key, however, is Brett Anderson. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, but with 2 consecutive years of injury battles, it's becoming a real concern that he be able to stay on the mound. Peacock and Parker have a combined 3 starts of MLB experience under their belts. Godspeed, gentlemen.


Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes are in a closer battle in Spring Training. Balfour is clearly the better pitcher on the peripherals and with the strikeout rate, but managers are famous for going with "the guy who's done it before" and that's Fuentes. Also rounding out the back-end will be Joey Devine, the former Braves prospect that has big-time stuff including a near triple-digit fastball, but who's been hampered by injuries. Certainly not a unit of strength.


66-96, 4th in AL West

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