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Prospect Watch: 5 Future All-Stars No One Is Talking About

I chose to stick with hitters in this article, because pitching prospects are extremely difficult to predict, and I think the pitchers who do get the hype are typically deserving. However, I do see a trend of some unnoticed hitting prospects turning out great careers in the majors. Let’s get right to it.

1. Travis Demeritte – 2B – ATL

In 2016, Demeritte went from the Rangers’ to the Braves’ system and spent the entire year in high-A ball, where he dominated at the plate. A 2B with power like Cano, good speed and the ability to get on base is such a rarity.

In my opinion, Demeritte has the highest chance of being a perennial All-Star out of these five prospects. The middle infield in Atlanta has an extremely bright future. I’m predicting that Demeritte will make his splash in 2018, and make his first ASG appearance by 2020 (age 25). Let’s look at his numbers from a season ago:


Travis Demeritte 21 145 547 635 145 33 13 32 78 200 20 4 12.3% 31.5% 0.905 0.283 0.393 139

Let’s compare these to the four All-Star 2B in 2016 and Brian Dozier.

Jose Altuve 161 640 717 216 42 5 24 60 70 30 10 8.4% 9.8% 0.928 0.194 0.391 150
Robinson Cano 161 655 715 195 33 2 39 47 100 0 1 6.6% 14.0% 0.882 0.235 0.37 138
Brian Dozier 155 615 691 165 35 5 42 61 138 18 2 8.8% 20.0% 0.886 0.278 0.37 132
Dustin Pedroia 154 633 698 201 36 1 15 61 73 7 4 8.7% 10.5% 0.825 0.131 0.358 120
Ian Kinsler 153 618 679 178 29 4 28 45 115 14 6 6.6% 16.9% 0.831 0.196 0.356 123

Some things to keep in mind as we compare these players: Demeritte was playing in A+ ball, but he did play an average of 12 less games than these major-leaguers. As you can see, it’s basically a two-man race (other than Dozier’s 42 HRs) between Altuve and Demeritte here. While we cannot expect these A+ ball numbers to translate directly against ML pitching, Demeritte definitely deserves more attention in top-prospect lists. While he’s not quite as speedy as Altuve, he has more power, and he walks at a far higher rate. The one glaring weakness is the K numbers for Demeritte. However, some of the top players in the league K at very high rates. As long as the OPS stays high, it doesn’t really matter how a guy makes outs anymore.

I should note that 2016 was a breakout year for Demeritte; in years past he didn’t quite live up to his potential, and also served an 80-game PED suspension. These could be the main reasons why he hasn’t garnered much attention yet. He still has to prove himself to most. However, I’m sold. I’d pencil him in for the majority of the 2020s’ ASGs right now.


2. Ramon Laureano – OF – HOU

Laureano has all the tools: he can play any OF spot well, he has speed and pop, and he gets on base. Houston’s farm has taken a bit of a hit due to some trades in the last two years, but that’s because they knew they had guys like Laureano who don’t have super high trade value, but have a chance to be great ML players like the guys they traded. Let’s look at Laureano’s 2016 numbers.

Ramon Laureano 21 128 461 555 146 32 9 15 73 128 48 15 13.2% 23.1% 0.943 0.206 0.418 159

The numbers speak for themselves. This is the making of a star; where is the hype? I know it’s not a huge sample size, and we don’t have much to go off from the previous year either, but in A+ and AA last year he put up those phenomenal numbers you see above.

If those aren’t All-Star numbers, then I don’t know what are. Laureano’s ability to play all three OF spots will keep him in the lineup everyday and help his chances of making it to the ASG. When he does get the call-up, if his numbers stay relatively close to this, there’s no way he doesn’t make three to four All-Star Games. As of now, he’s more of a speed threat, but as he develops, the speed/power combo will even out and he will be an Andrew McCutchen-type player. Keep tabs on this guy.


3. Christin Stewart – OF – DET

While researching Stewart, I couldn’t find an article more recent than September of 2015. There’s no one talking about him…why? As we know, Detroit is aging and looking to deal top players. So, I’m assuming we will be seeing a lot of opportunities for young guys to step up and prove themselves. Detroit’s system isn’t super deep, but that could change anytime if they do decide to move some key pieces. Regardless, I see Stewart as the prospect to watch moving forward; he has the tools to be an All-Star. Let’s check out his numbers from 2016.

Christin Stewart 22 147 514 622 132 29 2 31 93 154 4 2 15.0% 24.8% 0.883 0.245 0.407 156

The power is impressive, and by this chart he looks even a bit better than the two previous guys I mentioned. However, with the K numbers pretty high up there, and not a whole lot of speed, Stewart is a player that could fall into slumps. Often times, adjusting to the majors can be challenging, and some top prospects never quite figure it out. While Stewart’s MiLB numbers are pretty insane, his slump potential makes him a pretty risky pick here. However, I do believe that if he does indeed figure it out, he will make it to a few ASG and serve as an everyday player in this league for a decade. HRs and BBs get it done. Keep an eye on Stewart.


4. Jason Martin – OF – HOU

Another Houston OF prospect…another future All-Star? I think so. The future is certainly bright over at Minute Maid Park: Altuve is a cornerstone, Correa is a centerpiece, Springer is a baller, and they have prospects for days. If they can just figure out how to pitch, they could be a WS contender for the next eight years.

Why Martin, though? Let’s check out his 2016 numbers from high-A ball.

Jason Martin 20 121 431 502 114 25 7 23 63 112 22 12 12.5% 22.3% 0.874 0.251 0.382 131

Impressive, to say the least. At just 20 years old, he pumped out 23 homers in 121 games. He walks every eight at-bats, and he also grabbed 22 bags on the season. The ability to walk and run (lol) will typically keep guys out of major slumps. While Martin is not a highly-touted prospect at this point, I think he will be a household name by 2022. I expect him to get the call-up in 2019 and play a significant role during a pennant race that year. In 2020, he will burst onto the scene and prove his worth to this franchise.

With Houston’s current build, this might be a guy we see dealt if they are trying to add talent at the deadline this year. That doesn’t change my prediction, however. I see Martin suiting up for the ASG a few times throughout his career. Stay posted.


5. Tom Murphy – C – COL

You can’t keep putting Yadier Molina in there every year. And with Buster Posey most likely making that change to 1B full-time within three years, Jonathan Lucroy getting dealt to the AL, Kyle Schwarber playing OF, etc, pathways for guys like Tommy Murphy open up. Making the All-Star Game as a C is not saying as much as other positions, in my opinion. A decent hot streak in the first half will inflate your hitting numbers. For example, Derek Norris in 2014. It may seem like he was the best catcher in the league at the halfway point, but, as usual, it evened out by season’s end.

With that being said, Murphy has proven he has pop, and playing in Colorado is a huge advantage for him. While I don’t think he will be a Hall-of-Fame catcher, I do think he’s flying under the radar right now and will probably open some eyes in 2017. I’d say he makes two appearances in the ASG before 2022. However, once he gets up near 30 and he’s no longer playing in Colorado, I think he will have trouble keeping a job.

I have him on the list, first of all, because he meets the criteria, and also because I think people should pay attention to him, and lastly because he’s ML-ready, unlike the rest of these guys. Trevor Story didn’t have a whole lot of hype; most people didn’t expect him to make the team out of spring, but with the Jose Reyes situation, the kid got a shot and as we all know, he ran with it. I’m not saying Murphy will make a cannonball-esque splash like Story, but I think he will turn some heads and maybe even get some ASG votes this year. Anything can happen, especially in Colorado. Keep tabs on him.

Honorable Mentions

Dylan Cozens – OF – PHI

There’s not a lot of buzz surrounding Cozens, which is surprising to me, because usually when we see 40 HR in 134 games, we really perk up. In his age-22 season, he played all 134 games at the AA level for the Phillies affiliate, Reading Fightin’ Phils, a place where most Phillies prospects prosper. The reason why Cozens doesn’t quite make the cut here is because of the words, “future All-Star.” He is one of those lefties that mash in the right ballpark and against RHP, but usually career platoon hitters, even if they are highly effective, don’t make the ASG.

Rhys Hoskins – 1B – PHI

Hoskins is another AA player in the Phillies system. He probably has a little bit more of a well-rounded hitting ability than does Cozens, but he’s a 1B, and that’s an overloaded position. You have to be incredible to crack that ASG squad, and I just don’t think Hoskins will ever be quite at that level. I do believe he will pan out to be an everyday guy for a good amount of time in this league. He has really good power and he gets on base, two things that will keep you in the lineup more often than not.

Bobby Bradley – 1B – CLE

Bradley is another guy I would keep an eye on; I’m just not sold on him yet. He has a a lot of raw power, but a really high K rate in the low levels of the minors. Also, he’s a 1B, so once again, really hard to make the ASG at that position.

7 Reasons Why the A’s Will Win the AL West in 2015

The A’s winning the West after a huge offseason makeover in 2015 might seem like an unlikely achievement, but here are seven reasons why this is not at all unachievable:


1. The New-Look Infield

In 2015 the Athletics will be throwing out a fresh face at each of the four starting infield positions. Here’s a quick look:

2014 2015
1B: Brandon Moss 1B: Ike Davis (Mets)
2B: Eric Sogard 2B: Ben Zobrist (Rays)
SS: Jed Lowrie SS: Marcus Semien (White Sox)
3B: Josh Donaldson 3B: Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays)

Especially from an Athletics fan’s perspective, the left side of this chart looks very nice. The names Moss and Donaldson are very important and dear to you; however, the right side of this chart is actually more productive overall. While Moss and Donaldson have the highest wOBA of the eight players at .351 and .339 respectively, Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard have the two lowest at .300 and .262 respectively. This averages out to be a wOBA of .313. The Average wOBA for 2015’s infield is .320.

You might be thinking that Lawrie does not compare to Donaldson, and you could be right. The fact of the matter is that Lawrie is a downgrade from Donaldson, but not by all that much, meanwhile, Zobrist is a huge upgrade from Sogard at 2B. And even Sogard is an upgrade from Punto as the UTIL infielder.

Other important categories that favor the 2015 infield are BB%, K%, FB%, Contact%, OPS, OBP, etc. Also, the new infield got quite a bit younger and faster.

The 2015 infield also has a higher average wRC+ at 104 in comparison to 2014’s 102.5. These aren’t huge differences, but the A’s are expecting better years from Lawrie, who was injured a lot in 2014, Davis, who hit 32 HR in 2012, and Semien, who hasn’t really had much of a chance in the majors yet. These moves were necessary, not only to save money, but because the 2014 team didn’t actually win the AL West. I’m now going to compare this new INF to a team that did win the West, the 2012 A’s.

The 2012 INF consisted of Josh Donaldson, Stephen Drew, Cliff Pennington and Brandon Moss. There were other guys in the mix earlier on in the season, i.e. Jemile Weeks, Brandon Inge, however, these were the guys that got it done down the home stretch.

2012 A’s INF WAR wOBA wRC+ 2015 A’s INF WAR wOBA wRC+
Brandon Moss 2.3 .402 160 Ike Davis 0.3 .324 108
Cliff Pennington 1.0 .263 65 Ben Zobrist 5.7 .333 119
Stephen Drew 0.0 .310 97 Marcus Semien 0.6 .301 88
Josh Donaldson 1.5 .300 90 Brett Lawrie 1.7 .320 101
2012 AVG 1.2 .319 103   2014 AVG 2.1 .320 104

These numbers are almost identical, however the 2015 team has a slight edge in every category. That is despite the fact that the A’s expect growth from the incoming players this season. Even after the significant losses of Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss the A’s infield is more than capable of pushing them toward another Western division title.


2. The Designated Hitter

The Athletics’ DH numbers from 2014 are not where you want them to be. Yes, Melvin will still use this spot as a “half-rest” day for players like Crisp, Reddick and Lawrie, but the newcomer Billy Butler will most likely fill the spot the majority of the time. Butler is a huge upgrade from the A’s team DH numbers last season in which Callaspo, Moss, Norris, Jaso, Vogt, Dunn, among countless others had at bats. Let’s take a look at the 2014 A’s DH numbers vs. Billy Butler’s 2014 numbers. (he also had a down season):

Player WAR wOBA wRC+
2014 Team DH -1.3 .284 82
Billy Butler -0.3 .311 97

This chart shows that Butler is a significant upgrade at the DH spot, as he will bring a lot more production to the middle of this lineup. I should also bring up his career numbers, which are a wOBA of .351 and wRC+ of 117. If Butler can get back to his career form, the A’s offense is looking at a huge boost, but even if he doesn’t and repeats his 2014 performance, the DH spot is still getting a nice upgrade.


3. The Rotation

The starting rotation for the A’s no longer consists of Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel, but it is still a very strong group with huge potential. I’m going to compare the projected 2015 group to the 2012 and 2013 rotations that led the A’s to division titles.


Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Tommy Milone 190 6.49 1.71 1.14 3.74 1.28 2.8
Jarrod Parker 181.1 6.95 3.13 0.55 3.47 1.26 3.5
Bartolo Colon 111 5.38 1.36 1.00 3.43 1.21 2.4
Brandon McCarthy 82.1 5.92 1.95 0.81 3.24 1.25 1.8
A.J. Griffin 79.1 7.00 2.08 1.09 3.06 1.13 1.4
Team Average  / 6.35


0.92 3.39 1.23




Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
A.J Griffin 200 7.70 2.43 1.62 3.83 1.13 1.5
Jarrod Parker 197 6.12 2.88 1.14 3.97 1.22 1.3
Bartolo Colon 190.1 5.53 1.37 0.66 2.65 1.17 3.9
Tommy Milone 153.1 7.10 2.29 1.41 4.17 1.29 1.3
Dan Straily 152.1 7.33 3.37 0.95 3.96 1.24 1.4
Team Average  / 6.76 2.47 1.16 3.72 1.21 1.9


Projected 2015 (2014 STATS)

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Sonny Gray 219 7.52 3.04 0.62 3.08 1.19 3.3
Scott Kazmir 190.1 7.75 2.36 0.76 3.55 1.16 3.3
Jesse Chavez 125.2 8.52 2.94 0.93 3.44 1.30 1.7
Jesse Hahn 70 8.36 3.73 0.51 2.96 1.13 0.8
Drew Pomeranz 52.1 8.6 3.44 0.86 2.58 1.13 0.7
Team Average  /







As you can see, the 2015 rotation wins four out of the six categories. They won the majority of the categories already, but this 2015 staff has the potential to be better than these numbers show. In past years, the A’s success had a lot to do with their strong pitching staff — this is a big reason why I believe they will win the west in 2015 — however, we need to take a look at the projected rotations of the four other teams in the division to see how the A’s compare to each of them.

Here are the five teams’ projected rotations for 2015:



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Jered Weaver 213.1 7.13 2.74 1.14 3.59 1.21 1.5
C.J. Wilson 175.2 7.74 4.35 0.87 4.51 1.45 0.6
Garrett Richards 168.2 8.75 2.72 0.27 2.61 1.04 4.3
Matt Shoemaker 121.1 8.16 1.56 0.67 2.89 1.07 2.6
Andrew Heaney 24.2 5.84 2.55 2.19 6.93 1.50 -0.4
Team Average  / 7.52 2.78 1.03 4.11 1.25 1.7



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Felix Hernandez 236 9.46 1.75 0.61 2.14 0.92 6.2
Hisashi Iwakuma 179 7.74 1.06 1.01 3.52 1.05 3.2
Roenis Elias 163.2 7.86 3.52 0.88 3.85 1.31 1.4
J.A. Happ 153 7.53 2.71 1.24 4.12 1.31 1.5
James Paxton 74 7.18 3.53 0.36 3.04 1.2 1.3
Team Average  / 7.95 2.51 0.82 3.33





Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Colby Lewis 170.1 7.03 2.54 1.32 5.18 1.52 1.6
Yu Darvish 144.1 11.35 3.06 0.81 3.06 1.26 4.1
Nick Tepesch 125.2 4.01 3.15 1.07 4.30 1.34 0.4
Derek Holland 34.1 6.29 1.05 0 1.31 1.02 1.3
Ross Detwiler   /   /   /   /   /   /   /
Team Average   / 7.17


.8 3.46 1.29 1.85



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Colin McHugh 154.2 9.14 2.39 0.76 2.73 1.02 3.3
Dallas Keuchel 200 6.57 2.16 0.50 2.93 1.18 3.9
Scott Feldman 180.1 5.34 2.50 0.80 3.74 1.30 1.6
Brett Oberholtzer 143.2 5.89 1.75 0.75 4.39 1.38 2.4
Brad Peacock 122 7.97 4.57 1.48 4.50 1.52 -0.1
Team Average   / 6.98 2.67 0.86 3.59 1.28 2.2



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Sonny Gray 219 7.52 3.04 0.62 3.08 1.19 3.3
Scott Kazmir 190.1 7.75 2.36 0.76 3.55 1.16 3.3
Jesse Chavez 125.2 8.52 2.94 0.93 3.44 1.30 1.7
Jesse Hahn 70 8.36 3.73 0.51 2.96 1.13 0.8
Drew Pomeranz 52.1 8.6 3.44 0.86 2.58 1.13 0.7
Team Average   /





1.18 2.0

The Mariners and the Athletics both have really solid pitching staffs. The Mariners have arguably the best pitcher in the American League in Felix Hernandez. The Angels also have a good young ace in Garrett Richards, but he is coming off an injury; it will be interesting to see how he bounces back. Sonny Gray proved that he is a true ace last season, going over 200 innings and pitching extremely well in big games. The numbers do give the A’s a slight edge; they won three of the six categories and the Mariners won two of them. King Felix, Iwakuma and the solid supporting cast are hard to bet against, but 1-5, the A’s have a better staff according to last year’s numbers.


4. Speedee Oil Change

Anytime manager Bob Melvin calls on the bullpen, the A’s should be confident. There are so many capable arms out there that it’s really not fair. Honestly, a starter could go four innings with a lead and that would be enough for this bullpen with Otero, Abad, Cook, O’Flaherty, Clippard and Doolittle in the mix. There are plenty of other options as well that might not get a shot because it’s already crowded with talent out there. The starters, however, are very capable of giving you six or seven innings consistently, which makes this bullpen even that much more deadly, allowing Melvin to create left-on-left matchups or vice versa. The fact of the matter is, if you can’t score, you can’t win. While the starting staff is very solid, getting to the bullpen might not be the opponent’s best option when facing the A’s. Another positive for the A’s has been their ability to fight their way back into ballgames the last few years. With a bullpen like this who can keep the deficit where it is, the probability of achieving a comeback is that much greater.

As shown by the Royals on the successful end and the Dodgers on the opposite end, the strength of your bullpen can make or break your season.

Let’s compare the A’s bullpen to the other teams in the division by highlighting the projected top six bullpen arms for each team:



Joe Smith 74.2 8.20 1.81 0.48 1.81 0.80 18 15
Huston Street 59.1 8.65 2.12 0.61 1.37 0.94 0 41
Mike Morin 59 8.24 2.90 0.46 2.90 1.19 9 0
Fernando Salas 58.2 9.36 2.15 0.77 3.38 1.09 8 0
Cory Rasmus 37.0 9.24 2.92 0.73 2.68 1.16 0 0
Vinnie Pestano 18.2 12.54 2.41 1.45 2.89 1.23 1 0
Team Average  / 9.37 2.39 0.75 2.51 1.07  /  /



Tom Wilhelmsen 75.1 8.12 2.7 0.72 2.03 1.00 8 1
Danny Farquhar 71 10.27 2.79 0.63 2.66 1.13 13 1
Dominic Leone 66.1 9.50 3.39 0.54 2.17 1.16 7 0
Fernando Rodney 66.1 10.31 3.80 0.41 2.85 1.34 0 48
Yoervis Medina 57 9.47 4.42 0.47 2.68 1.33 21 0
Charlie Furbush 42.1 10.84 1.91 0.85 3.61 1.16 20 1
Team Average  /




2.67 1.19  /  /



Robbie Ross 78.1 5.86 3.45 1.03 6.20 1.70 2 0
Shawn Tolleson 71.2 8.67 3.52 1.26 2.67 1.17 7 0
Roman Mendez 33 6.00 4.64 0.55 2.18 1.12 10 0
Neftali Feliz 31.2 5.97 3.13 1.42 1.99 0.98 0 13
Tanner Scheppers 23.0 6.65 3.91 2.35 9.00 1.78 1 0
Phil Klein 19 10.89 4.74 1.42 2.84 1.11 0 0
Team Average  / 7.34 3.90 1.34 4.15 1.31  /  /



Luke Gregerson 72.1 7.34 1.87 0.75 2.12 1.01 22 3
Pat Neshek 67.1 9.09 1.2 0.53 1.87 0.79 25 6
Josh Fields 54.2 11.52 2.80 0.33 4.45 1.23 8 4
Chad Qualls 51.1 7.54 0.88 0.88 3.33 1.15 2 19
Tony Sipp 50.2 11.19 3.02 0.89 3.38 0.89 11 4
Jake Buchanan 35.1 5.09 3.06 1.02 4.58 1.50 0 0
Team Average   / 8.63


0.73 3.29 1.10  /  /



Dan Otero 86.2 4.67 1.56 0.42 2.28 1.10 12 1
Tyler Clippard 70.1 10.49 2.94 0.64 2.18 1.00 40 1
Sean Doolittle 62.2 12.78 1.15 0.72 2.73 0.73 5 22
Fernando Abad 57.1 8.01 2.35 0.63 1.57 0.85 9 0
Ryan Cook 50 9.00 3.96 0.54 3.42 1.08 7 1
Eric O’Flaherty 20 6.75 1.80 1.35 2.25 0.95 3 1
Team Average   / 8.62 2.29 0.72



 /  /

The Mariners and Athletics each won two out of the five categories. The Athletics also came in second in two other categories. Although this chart shows the Mariners and the A’s as pretty evenly matched, the Mariners have a lot of aging players in their pen, so we cannot be sure if they will keep up the good numbers. The Astros got a lot better by adding Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek, but that still wasn’t enough to make them the best in the division, especially after the A’s went out and traded for the two time All-Star, Tyler Clippard. All of these teams except Texas have a very strong bullpen, so trying to come back from a deficit is going to be a tough feat in this division.

The A’s also have a lot of other options past these six players, probably more so than the other four teams, making injuries less of a factor for them.


5. Coco Crisp

When Coco Crisp is at the top of the lineup, the A’s are a better team. Over the past three seasons there’s no player who has had as much of an overall impact on this team than Coco. Whether it’s at the plate, in the field or in the clubhouse, Crisp’s impact is significant. Despite losing a lot of star players, the A’s will not take a step backward because they still have their most important piece in Crisp. If Crisp would have been traded away this offseason, I don’t believe the A’s would be ready to compete for the AL West title in 2015. There would be too long of an adjustment period, someone else would need to step up big time and fill his shoes. Luckily, the A’s don’t have to worry about that yet. Bottom line: the A’s need Coco Crisp.


6. Depth and Versatility

Having a deep roster is always important in a 162 game season. You will have players go on the DL, it is unavoidable. Being able to replace the injured players with capable major leaguers is key to a team’s success in the long run. Billy Beane has constructed a 40-man roster with tremendous depth, especially with pitching. The A’s have eight or nine guys capable of making the starting rotation, not to mention two others (Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin) due back this summer. There are upwards of ten players competing for a spot in the bullpen as well. It will be interesting to see who makes it on to the 25-man roster, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Triple-A Nashville has a stacked opening day roster. Having great options in the minor leagues is key for any team, and the A’s will definitely have that this season with Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Brad Mills, four starters likely to be starting in Triple-A. Also, RJ Alvarez, Eury De La Rosa and Evan Scriber, three above-average bullpen arms will likely be starting down there as well.

The A’s lineup is a very versatile group this season. Eric Sogard, A’s second baseman the last few seasons, has moved into a utility INF role; he plays excellent defense, and for a defensive replacement, he can handle the stick pretty well. Ben Zobrist is known for his ability to play all over the diamond with above-average defense, and also for getting the job done from both sides of the plate; his career wOBA is .344. Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld can play all three outfield positions with ease while providing speed off the bench in pinch running situations. Marcus Semien will likely be the everyday SS, but he can play all over the infield as well. Stephen Vogt will mostly catch, but he can play first base and corner outfield if the A’s need him to. The amount of options the A’s have, if injuries do occur, are limitless. It will be entertaining to see how Bob Melvin constructs his lineup card every day.


7. The Manager

Bob Melvin is the perfect manager for a team of misfits and players who have never played together previously. He will bring this group to play for each other, as a unit, one day at a time. Melvin is great at creating matchups that benefit the team and give them the best chance to succeed. The roster that has been assembled this season is perfect for just that. It is loaded with skilled, versatile players. Bob Melvin has done it before and he will do it again.

The Future is Bright, But Will the A’s Compete in 2015?

The Oakland Athletics may have finally completed their roster turnover on Wednesday with their most recent deal sending Yunel Escobar to Washington for RP Tyler Clippard. However, you can never know if Billy Beane is finished making moves. With that being said, I’d like to break down the roster from last year to this year and assess whether or not the team will actually regress in 2015. The fact is that the Athletics got quite a bit younger this offseason and acquired many players with a lot of team control remaining. The distant future appears brighter now than it did prior to this offseason, but the main question is, will the Athletics be able to compete in 2015 as well as they would have prior to the roster turnover? Lets take a look at the numbers:


I will start by comparing the most common nine players in the A’s lineup last year to their projected starting nine this year, using WAR and wRC+:

[All stats give on the chart will represent the 2014 season in the MLB only. In further commentary I may bring up career numbers or minor league numbers for some players.]

2014 WAR wRC+ 2015 WAR wRC+
C – Derek Norris 2.5 122 C – Stephen Vogt 1.3 114
1B – Brandon Moss 2.3 121 1B – Ike Davis 0.3 108
2B – Eric Sogard 0.3 67 2B – Ben Zobrist 5.7 119
3B – Josh Donaldson 6.4 129 3B – Brett Lawrie 1.7 101
SS – Jed Lowrie 1.8 93 SS – Marcus Semien 0.6 88
LF – Yoenis Cespedes 3.4 109 LF – Sam Fuld 2.8 90
CF – Coco Crisp 0.9 103 CF – Coco Crisp 0.9 103
RF – Josh Reddick 2.3 117 RF – Josh Reddick 2.3 117
DH – Alberto Callaspo -1.1 68 DH – Billy Butler -0.3 97

2014 AVG WAR = 2.1 / Total wRC+ = 929

2015 AVG WAR = 1.7 / Total wRC+ = 937

As shocking as it may seem, this displays that the A’s should in fact score more runs with their lineup in 2015 than they did with Donaldson, Moss and Cespedes in the heart of their lineup last season. Although, this chart only accounts for 2014 stats, in which Billy Butler (among others) had an off year. If the A’s can get him back to, or even near his 2012 form, in which his WAR was 2.9 and his wRC+ was 139, they could be in for a significant upgrade on offense as a whole. One of the reasons why this lineup has the potential to be more successful even after losing a guy like Donaldson is because of the acquisition of Ben Zobrist. While Brett Lawrie is -4.7 to Donaldson in WAR and -28 to Donaldson in wRC+, Zobrist is +5.4 to Sogard in WAR and +52 to Sogard in wRC+, more than making up for the loss of Donaldson. While the A’s did use a lot of other DH besides Callaspo in 2014, he totaled the greatest amount of plate appearances from that spot, which might lower the 2014 numbers a little.

The average WAR is down slightly from last season, but with Stephen Vogt behind the plate and Marcus Semien most likely getting the every day job at SS, the A’s feel they are upgrading defensively. Semien’s numbers represent his slim 255 plate appearances in the majors last season, but in TripleA his wRC+ was 142. You cannot expect that out of Semien at the major league level, but it shows that he has potential to improve in 2015. The A’s did use a lot of players at each position last season and they will again in 2015; that is why it is important to also take a look at the bench players from last year and the projected bench for this year.


While the 25-man roster is not set in stone for 2015 just yet, here is last year’s most commonly used bench players versus next year’s projected bench.

2014 WAR wRC+ 2015 WAR wRC+
Nick Punto 0.2 73 Craig Gentry 1.4 77
Craig Gentry 1.4 77 Josh Phegley 0.2 92 – 132(AAA)
John Jaso 1.5 121 Eric Sogard 0.3 67
Sam Fuld 1.3 73 Mark Canha N/A 131(AAA)

2014 AVG WAR = 1.1 / TOTAL wRC+ = 344

2015 AVG WAR = .48 / TOTAL wRC+ = 367(407)

While these numbers are a bit skewed due to the fact that Canha has not yet reached the majors and also because Jaso was actually a starter while he was healthy, they do give a good idea of what to expect in 2015. Sogard takes over for Punto as the reserve infielder. Fuld and Gentry will most likely platoon in LF, same goes for Vogt and Phegley at C. Since Fuld and Vogt are LH, they will see more time in the starting lineup, leaving Gentry and Phegley on the list of bench players for 2015. Gentry and Phegley will see most their time against lefties, which will likely help their overall numbers. The A’s always do a great job shifting their lineup to create the match ups they want, expect more of the same with platoons and late pinch hitting in 2015.


The starting rotation is an area where a lot of people say they A’s have question marks. This may be due to the fact that they lost Jon Lester and Jason Hammel to free agency and traded away Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox earlier this off season. However, the A’s held the best record in baseball for months in 2014 with a rotation featuring Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz and Tommy Milone. Four of those guys will be returning in 2015, with a slew of other young arms fighting for a spot in the rotation. Anyone from Chris Bassitt, Jesse Hahn, Sean Nolin or Kendall Graveman would be an upgrade or at worst an equal replacement of Milone. Let’s take a look at the numbers for the five players who started the most games for the Athletics last season VS the A’s projected rotation for next season using ERA, WHIP and WAR from the 2014 season:

Sonny Gray 3.08 1.19 3.3 Sonny Gray 3.08 1.19 3.3
Scott Kazmir 3.55 1.16 3.3 Scott Kazmir 3.55 1.16 3.3
Jesse Chavez 3.44 1.30 1.7 Jesse Hahn 2.96 1.13 0.8
Jeff Samardzija 2.99 1.07 4.1 Jesse Chavez 3.44 1.30 1.7
Tommy Milone 4.23 1.40 0.4 Drew Pomeranz 2.58 1.13 0.7

2014 AVG: ERA = 3.46 / WHIP = 1.22 / Avg WAR = 2.56

2015 AVG: ERA = 3.12 / WHIP = 1.18 / WAR = 1.96

Keep in mind that ERA and WHIP are better when they are lower and WAR is better if it is higher. While this list does not consist of Jon Lester, the A’s were at their best when they still had Chavez and Milone in their rotation. Also, it was a small sample size for Pomeranz, so we cannot expect numbers quite that solid again in 2015. However, with all that being said, the A’s, despite losing All-Stars, should not take more than a tiny step back in 2015. This rotation is still very solid and is in fact younger this year than last. Not only that, the A’s now have a lot more depth with three other pitchers not on this list that could fill a rotation spot, Chris Bassit, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman. Also, we cannot forget about the Tommy John rehabbers Jarrod Parker and AJ Griffin, who could make their way back into this rotation before the All-Star break. Both Parker and Griffin were huge contributors to the A’s success in both 2012 and 2013.


There are a lot of similar faces coming back to the Athletics’ bullpen in 2015. So, instead of continuing with the format I’ve used for position players and the starting rotation I’m quickly going to compare Luke Gregerson and Tyler Clippard, the one main difference in the bullpen for 2015.

Player ERA / WHIP / WAR

Luke Gregerson 2.12 / 1.01 / 0.9

Tyler Clippard 2.18 / 1.00 / 1.5

These numbers are very similar, making Clippard a perfect replacement for Gregerson, taking over the 8th inning duties in front of incumbent closer Sean Doolittle. I don’t think many people expected the A’s to make a move to acquire another back end of the bullpen piece. Even after losing Gregerson, they seemed to have a very solid bullpen, but now it is even more solidified with a proven set-up man in Tyler Clippard. Another important thing to note about Clippard is his ability to create fly balls. His FB% in 2014 was 49.4% also, his IFFB% was 19.3% and that will likely increase mightily with him now pitching in Oakland. He is the perfect pitcher for the o.Co Coliseum. The A’s will pay Clippard more than they would have paid Escobar in 2015, but they are saving money in the long run due to the fact the Escobar is owed 14 million over the next two seasons and Clippard becomes a free agent after this season (in which he will make around 9 million).

Now let’s take a look at 12 potential options for the Athletics bullpen in 2015. Some of them are locks, but the others will either gain a spot due to the fact that they did not make it into the rotation or if they have a solid showing in spring training.

Name Team (2014) IP ERA WHIP WAR
Sean Doolittle Athletics 62.2 2.73 0.73 2.4
Tyler Clippard Nationals 70.1 2.18 1 1.5
Dan Otero Athletics 86.2 2.28 1.1 0.7
Chris Bassitt White Sox 29.2 3.94 1.58 0.7
Fernando Abad Athletics 57.1 1.57 0.85 0.6
Ryan Cook Athletics 50 3.42 1.08 0.3
Eury De la Rosa Diamondbacks 36.2 2.95 1.39 0.2
R.J. Alvarez Padres 8 1.13 1 0
Kendall Graveman Blue Jays (AAA) 38.1 1.88 1.02 N/A
Sean Nolin Blue Jays (AAA) 87.1 3.5 1.25 N/A
Eric O’Flaherty Athletics 20 2.25 0.95 -0.1
Evan Scribner Athletics 11.2 4.63 0.94 -0.2

There are a lot of very solid options for the A’s bullpen in 2015. I’d expect to see, Doolittle, Clippard, O’Flaherty, Cook, Otero and Abad for sure, but I expect all of these guys to make an impact at some point, if not this season then in 2016.


The Athletics have a very deep pitching staff. With Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir headlining the rotation, they have a plethora of options to fill the remaining three spots. Pomeranz, Hahn and Chavez look to be the leading candidates, although Billy Beane himself has mentioned Kendall Graveman as someone he sees making the rotation out of spring training. The A’s also have a very strong bullpen, especially after the recent acquisition of All-Star set-up man Tyler Clippard. After losing Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Yoenis Cespedes and Derek Norris (four All-Stars), the A’s lineup for 2015, according to wRC+ actually got better. It’s not always the big name All-Stars that make a team successful. Oakland has proven this many times in the past, most recently in 2012, right after an offseason makeover similar to this year’s. The one piece that has remained since before the 2012 makeover and after this 2015 makeover, is Coco Crisp. There cannot be enough said about the value of Crisp to the A’s organization. With Crisp healthy in CF and the newly acquired pieces filling in around him, I expect the A’s to be back competing for another American League West division title in 2015.