2019 Oakland Athletics Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The MLB amateur draft is a total crapshoot, much more so than the first rounds in the NFL or NBA Drafts. Part of that is high schoolers are able to be drafted in baseball, but it's just hard to scout players in that sport. Sure, some kid might hit .550 in a high school season, but what happens when he finally sees a legitimate breaking ball? With pitchers, there's always the fear of major injury.
For every touted prospect like a Bryce Harper (drafted out of high school) and Kris Bryant (out of college) who works out, most don't. That said, when you are a penny-pinching organization like the Oakland A's, you need to hit on your drafts more than big-market teams. It's your only potential "advantage." There are few GMs better in baseball than Oakland's Billy Beane (he's actually an executive VP now), but why again did he draft Kyler Murray at No. 9 last summer?
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Murray was considered a borderline first-round talent, yet the A's gave him a nearly $5 million signing bonus and allowed him to go play quarterback for a season at Oklahoma. That backfired in a major way as Murray had a record-setting Heisman campaign and turned himself into a top-flight NFL prospect who probably goes in the Top 5 of the NFL Draft in April (now looking like No. 1 overall) and makes many more millions guaranteed. Murray, who has committed to football and repaid his signing bonus, wouldn't have played for the A's this season, but it's a potentially major loss for the future of the franchise because it doesn't get a compensatory draft pick in 2019.
Oakland opens the regular season March 20 as the "home" team in Tokyo vs. Seattle. The U.S. opener is in Oakland on March 28 vs. the Angels.
A's Projected Lineup
OK, name me five members of the Oakland every-day lineup. Bet you can't do it. We all know slugger Khris Davis, who led the majors with 48 homers last year and has hit at least 45 bombs and knocked in a minimum of 102 in each of the past three. Since 2016 began, Davis has 133 homers, most in the majors in that span. Perhaps more fascinating in 2018, Davis hit exactly .247 for a fourth straight season. No player with a minimum of 10 at-bats had ever finished with the same average four straight years.
Oakland bashed its way to a shocking 97 wins last year, ranking third in the majors in dingers with 227. Eight guys hit at least 13 and five with at least 23. The A's were largely projected to win about 20 fewer games and potentially finish last in the AL West for a fourth straight year. The A's were outclassed in the 2018 Wild-Card Game at Yankee Stadium, but certainly a good season overall.
This franchise is never super-active in free agency, so it didn't really add anyone of note. The club did sign veteran catcher Chris Hermann to a one-year deal and traded for ex-top prospect Jurickson Profar of the Rangers, a risk worth taking, in a three-team deal. Profar fills the void created by the departed Jed Lowrie, who started 265 games at second base in the previous two seasons and hit .267 with 23 HRs and 99 RBIs a season ago. Profar hit .254 with 20 homers and 77 RBIs.
So, we are looking at a lineup something like: OF Nick Martini, 3B Matt Chapman (probably the best all-around player), 1B Matt Olson, DH Davis, OF Stephen Piscotty, 2B Profar, OF Ramon Laureano, SS Marcus Semien and C Josh Phegley/Hermann. Other than Piscotty, that outfield sucks offensively.
A's 2019 Projected Rotation & Closer
Oakland was one of those teams that used an "opener" last season, which the Tampa Bay Rays popularized. Because of that, the A's starters threw just 824.1 innings, the fewest in A's history in a non-strike season. Having 11 different pitchers make at least seven starts was tied for the most in MLB history.
Trevor Cahill and Edwin Jackson are gone, and top starter Sean Manaea underwent shoulder surgery in September. Another promising guy, Andrew Triggs, had September surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. So, the only two sure things for this year are Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada. Fiers was acquired last season from Detroit and had his best overall year, going 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA. He got a two-year free-agent deal. Estrada got a one-year deal after going 7-14 with a 5.64 ERA in 2018 for Toronto.
Manager Bob Melvin said recently the rest of the rotation for now figures to be lefty Brett Anderson, Daniel Mengden and a fifth man to be determined. The team could use 21-year-old top prospect Jesus Luzardo there and is also looking ahead to the possibilities of former first-round pick A.J. Puk, whose Tommy John surgery kept him out for all of 2018, and Jharel Cotton, who had elbow-ligament reconstruction.
The bullpen was spectacular last year led by All-Star Blake Treinen, who was 9-2 with a 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 38 saves. The right-hander struck out 100 and walked 21 in 80 1/3 innings. Those are Cy Young-caliber numbers. Treinen got a big raise in arbitration.
A's Futures Odds
At 5Dimes , Oakland has a win total of 83.5, with the "over" a slight favorite. The A's are +700 to win the AL West, +1200 for the pennant and +2500 for the World Series. Davis is +2000 to win another HR crown.
A's 2019 Predictions
Maybe it's because the A's are so anonymous, but they are really a hard team to handicap. They should hit a ton of homers again, and the bullpen looks terrific - especially with a full season of Fernando Rodney and adding Joakim Soria. This club won't lose much when leading in the seventh. The rotation just needs to get the team there. Not sure that will happen. I was thinking a .500 record before even looking at FanGraphs, and that's what it projects. Go under the win total.
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