Athletics 2017 preview: Despite additions, Oakland facing another losing season

By Joe Rodgers 30 March 2017
Athletics 2017 preview: Despite additions, Oakland facing another losing season

Only the Phillies, Braves and Reds have more losses than the Athletics the past two seasons. That's unfamiliar territory for Oakland general manger Billy Beane, whose A's never won fewer than 74 games in a season from 1998-2015. 

Beane was busy this offseason, but in typical "Moneyball" fashion, the A's additions aren't players that move the public excitement needle. Santiago Casilla, Matt Joyce, Trevor Plouffe, Rajai Davis are minor improvements but won't shore up the A's dismal defense, which had the lowest defensive rating by FanGraphs last season. 

Best-case scenario is slugger Khris Davis hammers 40 homers again, ace Sonny Gray has a bounce-back season and the rest of the rotation can play above their years. But from top to bottom, the A's still have more questions than answers. 

Projection data from Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs have the A's finishing last in the AL West with somewhere between 76-79 wins this season. We agree Oakland will finish last in its division, but a win total above 75 games seems a bit optimistic. 

Oakland Athletics schedule 2017

The A's begin the 2017 schedule on baseball's opening day April 3 at 10:05 p.m. ET against the Angels as part of ESPN's day-long coverage. Following the four-game series, the A's will travel to face the Rangers then the Royals in a pair of three-game series before heading back to the East Bay to open up a 10-game homestand beginning April 14 against the Astros. 

Oakland Athletics roster

Athletics projected opening day lineup

1. Rajai Davis, OF
2. Stephen Vogt, C
3. Ryon Healy, DH
4. Khris Davis, OF
5. Matt Joyce, OF
6. Marcus Semien, SS
7. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
8. Yonder Alonso, 1B
9. Jed Lowrie, 2B

Athletics projected rotation

1. Sonny Gray, RHP
2. Kendall Graveman, RHP
3. Sean Manaea, LHP
4. Jharel Cotton, RHP
5. Andrew Triggs, RHP

Athletics projected bullpen 

Closer: Ryan Madson, RHP
Setup: Sean Doolittle, LHP
Setup: Santiago Casilla, RHP

Athletics fantasy baseball sleeper

Ryon Healy, 3B/1B: Healy popped 13 homers to go along with a .305 average in just 72 games last year. His .352 BABIP and poor BB-rate (4.2 percent) are signs that his average will drop, but he should provide cheap power with an upside of 85 RBIs. 

Athletics top prospect(s)

The 10th-best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, A.J. Puk, stands at a towering 6-7 with fastball velocity in the upper 90s. Selected sixth overall in last year's draft, Puk recorded a 3.03 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings in 10 starts for Class A Vermont. Once he shores up his command, look out. 

Franklin Barreto has 20-20 upside in the majors, but a history of errors at the shortstop position may keep him from an everyday job. He committed 34 errors in 84 games in 2015 but the A’s are hoping as the 21-year-old matures the number will drop.

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