2018 Oakland Athletics Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The Oakland Athletics made the playoffs three straight years from 2012 to 2014. It can be easy to forget that, though, because they have been so anonymous and underwhelming since then. Moneyball is never flashy, and that's especially true when they are rebuilding. Well, quietly they have been doing a decent job of their rebuild. There is still work to do, but this team won 75 games last year and, at least on paper, are better this year. Fans should not plan a parade just yet, and they still have to deal with playing in the worst stadium in the league, but there is room for cautious optimism here. The A's quite possible will be decent. Also forgettable, but at least decent.
Athletics 2018 Projected Lineup
Let's start with DH Khris Davis, because he just doesn't get enough attention. He had 43 homers last year, which was second best in the AL behind only Aaron Judge, and he did it in a much less favorable park than Yankee Stadium. The guy can flat out rake and is a very good presence to keep opposing pitchers honest when facing this lineup. I look for another big year from him.
The infield here is young and very positive. Third baseman Matt Chapman and shortstop Franklin Barreto, who hit .290 with 15 homers and 15 stolen bases in Triple A, are both solid players, but the guy who excites me most is first baseman Matt Olson. He had 24 home runs in just 59 major league games last year - which is on pace for 66 in a full season. He obviously won't keep up that pace, but he's confident and looks very much like a hitter. This young infield is shaped up to be the core of this team for years to come. Veteran Jed Lowrie returns at second base as an experienced anchor and mentor for this group.
There is a question mark with another youngster behind the plate. The team really likes Bruce Maxwell, who has played parts of two seasons and was clearly seen as the starter of the future. In October, though, he decided it was a good idea to point a gun at a food delivery guy. It wasn't. His aggravated assault charge is pending, so his status is unclear. He's proof you don't have to be smart to be a decent major leaguer.
A guy to watch is fielder Stephen Piscotty, who the A's picked up in a trade with the Cardinals. He was pretty lousy last year after a strong sophomore season in 2016, but he was dealing with the distraction of his mother suffering from ALS. He's from the Bay Area, though, so he is closer to home to help out, and he should be more focused as a result. I like the upside. One addition I'm not crazy about, though, is Brandon Moss. He played the best three years of his career in his first stint with the team ending in 2014, but he's 34 now, seems to be declining, and doesn't really fit.
Athletics 2018 Projected Rotation and Closer
The biggest thing holding this team back is the rotation. Man, are they going to miss Sonny Gray. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are the top two starters, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the rotation. Beyond that is just a lot of uncertainty. A guy to watch is Jharel Cotton, who should be the third starter. He was truly spectacular when called up late in 2016, and optimism was very high. But he struggled last year when given a full-time role. He won't get back to his 2016 levels over a full season, but if he can take a step forward from last year - preferably a big step - then it would be a big boost for the team. But the bottom line is this - this is not a good rotation.
The bullpen has been a cause for frustration in recent years, and it has seen a lot of changes. There is potential for it to be decent enough, though. They will need to get things figured out in a hurry because this rotation is not going to make things easy on the relievers.
Athletics Futures Odds
Bad news for fans - the A's are not going to win the World Series. Or probably not, at least - BetOnline has them at +12500 to win the World Series, which sits them ahead of only the Reds, Tigers and Marlins. That's not the company a team should want to be in. They are the second longest shot to win the AL at +5000 behind the Tigers and are the longest shot to win the AL West at+1600. Khris Davis sits at +2800 to win the home run title, which puts him behind 14 other players. There could be a little value there. The team's season win total sits at 74.5, and the "over" is currently a solid favorite.
Athletics 2018 Predictions
I want to like this team, and I really would if it weren't for the pitching. And unfortunately it is tough to see quick fixes on that front. They could sign one of the decent free agents still available and that would really help, but it's going to be a problem. I like them to go over the 74.5-win total despite the issues on the mound, and I think 80 games is a decent target. More significantly, this is a team to watch going forward because they are starting to get things figured out.
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