One of the most consistent teams in the AL West, the Oakland Athletics are looking to make the postseason for the fourth straight season, and the seventh time in the last ten years. Can they go beyond the Division Series? That’s the big question, but Billy Beane and Co. have a knack for putting a competitive product at a low price.
Angels: The A’s are in a great position to repeat as division winners in 2021.
The A’s filled the void of of Marcus Semien by trading within the division for former Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. Oakland also retooled their bullpen after losing closer Liam Hendriks by signing Trevor Rosenthal and Yusmiero Petit. Why the Angels didn’t go after either reliever still blows my mind.
Oakland’s slug-heavy approach struggled last season and they lost third baseman Matt Chapman to injury after 37 games. This is a team who can be even better than a year ago if their offense can find consistency for a full season.
What carried the A’s last summer was their pitching. Oakland finished with the league’s fifth-best team ERA (3.77) thanks to a lockdown bullpen and starter Chris Bassit who posted a 2.29 ERA and 1.159 WHIP in 11 starts.
The rest of the rotation was average as no starter had a sub-4 ERA. Could this formula of a decent rotation plus a dominant bullpen lead to another playoff birth for the A’s? It seems to be asking a lot, but it helped Oakland win the division last summer. It gives a bit of hope to the Angels who are using the same strategy this season.
The big difference is the A’s have a stable of arms under team control for the next few seasons. Whereas the Angels have four starters set to hit free agency this winter.
The foundation of Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, and Sean Manaea have the potential to take the next steps as elite starters. This would make the A’s a legitimate World Series contender, and they will be among the teams to beat in the division this season and for years to come.