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2020 Preview: Oakland Athletics

COVID-19 has shaken the sports world. Leagues have been suspended or canceled, as players and fans are left in a state of shock.

Oakland Athletics

The MLB delayed the start of the regular season for two weeks, the league announced on Thursday. In addition, Commissioner Rob Manfred has suspended the rest of Spring Training.

It’s unclear what the next steps will be, but with that being said, it’s a good time to look ahead to the 2020 season and a team that could wreak havoc in the American League.

The Oakland Athletics are coming off a second-place finish last year, ending the season with a 97-65 record. However, when it came to the playoffs, Oakland lost the American League Wild Card game for the second straight year. This time, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays at home.

Could this be the year that the A’s escape the wild-card game? With the young talent continuing to develop and produce on the offensive and defensive side, it could be. This is a perfect opportunity for the club.

The projected first-place Houston Astros were involved in the sign-stealing scandal and are facing enormous backlash from players and fans.

The Angels added Anthony Rendon and have stacked their lineup, but failed to address their pitching staff. The Texas Rangers have added pieces and will be better this season, but not playoff ready. Lastly, the Seattle Mariners are rebuilding and won’t be competing for a division title. 

The Lineup

Oakland is returning most of their lineup from last season, including 2019 MVP finalist, Marcus Semien. Entering his 8th season, the shortstop is looking to build off his breakout year, setting career-highs in many categories, including home runs (33), RBI’s (92), batting average (.285), slugging percentage (.522), and OPS (.892).

Third baseman, Matt Chapman, also set career highs in 2019, with 36 home runs and 91 RBI’s. Matt Olson won a Gold Glove for the second consecutive year for his job at first base while also eclipsing his career-high in home runs and RBI’s like Chapman.

Players looking to bounce back include Khris Davis. Davis had 23 homers and 73 RBI’s last year, a drastic drop off after having 40+ round-trippers and 100+ runs batted in the three seasons prior. Stephen Piscotty looks to stay healthy after missing close to 70 games last season.

Starting Rotation & Bullpen

The A’s hope for a healthier starting pitching rotation this year. Veteran Mike Fiers leads the way with Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk rounding out the five.

Fiers had a 15-4 record last year and was the one who started the investigation into the Astros cheating. Montas started 16 games last season and went 9-2, but was suspended 80 games for violating the league’s PED policy. Puk got called up in September, but only pitched as a reliever. The 24-year-old is expected to be in the rotation this season.

One of the better bullpens in the league will be led by Liam Hendriks who will be the team’s closer this season. 

Due to COVID-19, spring training has been halted and Opening Day has been delayed, but the MLB is hopeful to start the season soon after the hiatus.

Follow me on Twitter at @JLiepper and follow us @OT_Heroics for more great content!

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Oakland Athletics

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