The Oakland A’s wheeled and dealed their way through the offseason and acquired many new players while also keeping familiar friendly faces. With some of the old stars gone like Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour, who will step up to the plate and become the face of the Oakland Athletics?
1) Josh Donaldson
Yes, Donaldson is well known around Oakland, but, unlike Colon and Balfour, he is not well known nationally. And even though he made it onto the All-Star ballot in 2013, Donaldson ultimately did not make the AL All-Star team and, by not being selected, many sports critics dubbed him as the player who was most royally snub. However, this is the year that Donaldson can take his fame to a whole new level.
In 2013, Donaldson hit .301 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI. He was also 7th in the AL for his On-Base Percentage, which was .883. Besides being a power hitter, Donaldson is also great defensively at third base. Just watch his diving catch that he made in September of 2013 in order to make sure a foul ball was called as an out. Perhaps instead of the “Balfour Rage” in 2014, we will have the “Donaldson Dive.” Donaldson has the potential to surpass the success he found in 2013 and become a nationwide star for the Athletics during this upcoming season.
2) Sonny Gray
After coming up from Triple-A in July, Gray became instantly likable in Oakland. He was young, pitched well, and had that spark that they A’s needed in August while the injuries started to pile up. When it came time for the postseason, the A’s decided to have the youngster pitch in the second spot even though he had no experience pitching under this type of stress. But Gray demonstrated that the skies were always “Sonny” when he was on the mound and surprised everyone by not surcoming to the postseason pressure.
Gray had a 2.67 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 2013. At only 24 years old, Gray has many successful years ahead of him if he continues to pitch like he did last season. If Gray is able to slide into the number one spot in the pitching rotation, there is no doubt he will become one of the Athletics stars in 2014.
3) Luke Gregerson
Not many know about this right handed relief pitcher unless you have lived in San Diego that past few years. Gregerson has been the San Diego Padres set-up man for five years now and was a stable and reliable pitcher in their bullpen. His most memorable and successful year in San Diego was in 2012 when he went on a 23 scoreless innings stretch that lasted from July through August. In the 66.1 innings he pitched in 2013, Gregerson held a 2.71 ERA with four saves and 64 strikeouts. Even though Gregerson is not the new closer for the Oakland A’s, I think that his success as the set-up man will earn him a lot of credit – especially if he is able to get the Athletics out of tough situations.
These three Athletics all have the potential to become household names not just around Oakland, but throughout the whole nation in 2014. With their drive to succeed and natural talent, they will all help the Athletics in the upcoming season. And now that the A’s have been attracting more attention year after year, its time for these players to gain the same respect as the players on big name teams.