It’s been another lost summer for the A’s, who at 66-86 find themselves at the bottom of the A.L. West standings and near the finish line of a yet another rebuilding season.
While things veered from the script early on in 2016, Oakland Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane did what he does best by ordering a re-write that opened up opportunities for emerging young talent that has the A’s, just two years removed from a wild-card playoff berth, headed in the right direction.
Here are 5 reasons why A’s fans have reason for optimism going into 2017:
Promoted to the big club in mid-July, the 24-year-old third baseman has played solid defense at the hot corner while proving he can more than handle big-league pitching, belting 11 home runs and driving in 31 runs to go along with a .301 average in his first 229 major-league at-bats through 62 games. Translating those numbers over an entire 162-game schedule should be enough to make any A’s fan smile.
Sure, he’s struck out 155 times, is batting a pedestrian .252 and has one of the worst left-field arms in all of baseball. But, oh, those power numbers: 40 home runs and 99 RBIs in 524 at-bats through 141 games. Score another one for Beane, who got the 28-year-old slugger for a couple of guys named Jacob Nottingham and Bubba Derby. Did we mention that Davis’ is making $524,000 this season?
Granted the sample size is small, but the 24-year-old right-hander out of the Virgin Islands – who came to Oakland as part of the Aug. 1 trade that sent pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick to the Dodgers – has allowed just three earned runs and 11 hits in 18 innings (a 1.42 ERA for those keeping score at home) through his first three big-league starts. There’s every reason to believe Cotton will be a key member of the A’s starting rotation in 2017.
Semien’s reasonable power numbers (15 home runs and 45 RBIs in 601 ABs) were dwarfed by his 35 errors in 656 chances during his first season as Oakland’s starting shortstop in 2015. But while his averaged has dropped from .257 in 2015 to .233 in 583 ABs in 2016, his home runs and RBIs have jumped to 26 and 70, respectively, this season. As a bonus, he’s also cut down on his errors, committing 20 in 695 chances. If he continues to progress at the same rate in 2017, the sky’s the limit for the 26-year-old Bay Area native.
The hard-throwing left-hander is just 6-9 through his first 23 big-league games, but he boasts an impressive 1.22 WHIP to go along with a respectable 4.03 ERA while striking out 116 batters in 131 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old has great stuff and a great chance to become a big winner in the majors sooner rather than later.
Compiled by Stu Rosenberg