A: "The Oakland Athletics"

Q:


Yes Jon, Oakland will still have one of the most storied franchises in the history of baseball - but I get it, the A's haven't given fans a great deal to cheer about the past couple of seasons but that's baseball. You have some success and if you don't have Yankee money then comes the inevitable tear down and rebuild. Now no one is expecting World Series rings this year, but with that said here's a few things I'm looking forward to this coming season.



AJ Puk

If you've read anything to do with the A's in the early part of Spring (I assume you haven't) then you'll have read about big lefty pitching prospect AJ Puk. Much of the difficulty in facing Puk comes from the angles created by his 6'7 frame, setting batters up with a mid/high 90s fastball before dropping to the mid/high 80s with his slider. Puk had 13.2 SO9 last season across A/AA in 125 IP and is expected to start the season at AAA Nashville. Excitement in camp is obviously brewing though and it may be sooner rather than later that Puk takes the mound in the Majors.


Brynn Anderson - Associated Press


Quality out of the Pen

The A's bullpen was a bit of a dumpster fire last campaign and with the departures of vets Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson they have clearly made it a priority to rebuild the pen this offseason. Back in November with the dust barely settled on the Astros first World Series Title and the A's acquired rhp Emilio Pagan. You better believe the A's love what they see in Pagan as they gave up young first baseman Ryon Healy in the process. A fly ball guy he'll certainly have fans twitching (if you know what I mean) but the ball should be staying in the park and having shown the ability to go multiple innings Pagan can be the reliable set up man the A's desperately need. To accompany Pagan the A's also acquired rhp Yusmeiro Petit who had simply sensational numbers with the Angels in 2017, 0/20 IR scored and 19/20 saves/holds. With Pagan posting equally impressive numbers (4/16 IR scored, 8/9 saves/holds), it figures that even with a drop off these guys can help improve a pen that blew 25 saves last season, just one short of the major league high. Blake Treinen is set to be the closer, but to be perfectly honest I could have written Ben Rowland or Joel Bailey and felt more confident then return Santiago Casilla in the closing role. After being acquired from the Nats in the Doolittle/Madson trade Treinen settled in eventually converting his final 12 save opportunities of the season and the 6'5 righty will no doubt be looking to pick up right where he left off. The A's also bring in lefty, yup you read that correct the A's have added the desperately needed lefty in Ryan Butcher who will I'm sure be used in a specialist loogy role. These are the guys I'm excited about, and after them comes a whole host of names and given there are currently 7 listed starting pitchers it's the hope I'm sure of the A's that the competition in camp leads to a couple of guys stepping up and staking a claim to be a regular fixture in the green and gold in 2018.



Gary Coronado - LA Times


kHRis Davis

42 reasons to be excited in 2016, 43 in 2017 (4th in the majors). The case can be made that A's outfielder Khris Davis is still one of the most underrated power hitters in the league. Davis ranked 6th in ISO (isolated power) last campaign and is showing signs of maturity to accompany said power. His walks per plate appearance took a significant leap forward, up to 11.2% from 6.9% in the year prior, while his chase rate dropped from 31.3% to 26.6%. Discounting the 2013 season (only 56 games), Davis set career highs in HRs, RBIs, Runs, BBs, OBP, SLG, and OPS...yeah, not bad. Assuming Davis continues to improve A's fans can continue to get excited every time he enters the batters box.


Every Year

I do this to myself every year. I get overly optimistic about Oakland A's baseball. The improved pen, the exciting pitching prospects not to mention the young gun slingers Matt Olson (24 Hrs in 59 games!!!), Matt Chapman and Khris Davis. Plus who knows what we'll get out of Dustin Fowler the top prospect acquired in the Sonny Gray trade.


So to answer your question Jon, Oakland will have a young, hungry and exciting baseball team, with low expectations but a very high ceiling and I've no doubt the city of Oakland will fully get behind them.






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