It has been said since the start of spring training that the Oakland A’s are going to win the American League West for the third year in a row this season. But why is it going to be so easy for them to win the AL West again and make the playoffs? With a well-rounded roster and a deep bullpen, the Athletics are almost destined to make the playoffs once more. Let’s take a look at the few things that need to happen in order for the Oakland A’s to a guaranteed a trip to the postseason.
1) Jim Johnson needs to find his groove
After losing again to the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the playoffs in 2013, Oakland A’s management realized that they needed to build a better bullpen. So they took some time during the offseason and built one of the strongest and deepest bullpens in the MLB. There were some great new additions whom joined some reliable favorites from last season.
Closer Jim Johnson was one of the newest additions and everyone was excited to have this star in the bullpen. With the most saves in the AL in 2012 and 2013, this acquisition seemed like a huge upgrade from Grant Balfour even though Balfour was an amazing close for the Athletics. However, Johnson’s start with the A’s has been rocky. As of April 8th, he had a 15.00 ERA over a total of three innings pitched. It should be noted that he did look much sharper during his most recent appearance, which is a good sign for the future.
The A’s bullpen currently has a 2.63 ERA. But if we take closer Jim Johnson out of the equation, the bullpen has a 0.86 ERA with only two earned runs. Once Johnson finds his groove, it will be up to the Oakland’s starting lineup to win the game because the A’s bullpen will shut down the opposing team.
2) Lesser known players need to step up to the plate
Everyone knows Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes – even Josh Donaldson is now a player that is on everyone’s radar. However, it is the lesser-known players that need to step up this season and ultimately help the Oakland A’s make the playoffs. Even though these players may not be starting each game, they add depth to the dugout since they are all talented. By having them in the dugout, it ensures that the A’s lineup will always be filled with quality players.
A good example of this type of player is Eric Sogard. Sogard is known well in Oakland for his nerdy glasses, but he has been recently been stepping up his game with some great defensive plays at second base. He is not doing too bad at the plate either. With a .286 batting average, Sogard has a .375 OBP and has only struck out once in 14 at-bats.
Another player who is making a positive impression is Sam Fuld. Fuld was not even going to be on the A’s roster until backup outfielder Craig Gentry went on the DL with a back injury. But Fuld has been proving that he was worth keeping around. This versatile outfielder has already made an amazing diving catch and has tripled twice in the four games in which he has played. This quality fielder just adds more depth to the dugout. If these lesser known, talented players continue to step up to the plate, the Oakland A’s will make the playoffs.
3) Josh Donaldson needs to start producing
After last season where Donaldson was the star both in the field and at the plate, it is very concerning that he currently has only a .161 AVG and a .188 OBP with nine strikeouts. And he knows he is not doing well. Donaldson told the press the other day that he is not making contact with the ball in the right spot over the plate. However, fans should not worry too much because at this time last year, Donaldson was only batting .120. Once he starts hitting those home runs and getting on base, Donaldson will help lead his team to yet another playoffs.