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2006 Oakland Athletics Baseball Preview

Oakland Athletics Predictions – AL WEST

OVERVIEW:

When you look at the AL West the Oakland A’s are usually in the mix and often in the playoffs. However, Oakland has missed post-season play for the past two years. This year the club’s pitching staff is versatile and sound and their fielders are sure and secure. Where they may be lacking is at the plate. Do they have enough hitting to contend for and win a playoff position?

PITCHING:

Last season teams only hit .241 against A’s pitching—the lowest opponent batting average in the league. Plus, Oakland’s hurlers combined for an impressive ERA of 3.69.

Closer Huston Street, who came to the team in the 2004 draft, converted 22 of 25 saves, while holding batters to a 1.84 BA and attaining a 1.39 ERA. That’s about as good as it gets.

Lefty Barry Zito heads the starting rotation. In 2005 he got off to a shaky start but by mid-season found his rhythm, finishing with a 14-13 record and a 3.86 ERA. Zito should be in good form for 2006.

Rich Harden, Esteban Loaiza, Danny Haren, and Joe Blanton, all righties, make up one of the league’s most formidable and hearty rotation s, averaging 6.18 innings per start to the AL’s 5.98 average.

HITTING:

This team can use some offense. Oakland’s batting average for 2005 peaked at .262, one of the worst in the league. They also left the fourth most men on base in the AL.

Eric Chavez (.269 BA, 27 HR, 101 RBI) and the newly acquired and often troubled Milton Bradley (.290 BA, 13 HR, 38 RBI) are at the heart of the A’s batting order and must produce for this team to be successful.

Mark Ellis (.316 BA) is a good contact hitter who sprays the ball around the park, while Nick Swisher (.236 BA, 21 HR) is the club’s best long ball threat. Mid-season replacement DH Dan Johnson (.275 BA, 15 HR) has the potential to be a .300 hitter.

To compete this season, the A’s must have more timely hitting, better run production, and smart, aggressive base running.

DEFENSE:

Oakland led the league with a .986 fielding grade, while placing third in double plays and third in fewest errors—88. Excellent defense in Oakland is a daily occurrence.

Last year, they had a solid outfield and the addition of Bradley will only enhance this team’s defensive performance.

From Chavez at third to Swisher at first, the Athletics’ fielders tend to be sure-handed ball handlers with accurate arms and good to better-than-average range.

Catcher Jason Kendall continues to improve behind the plate and is a durable player.

MANAGER AND FRONT OFFICE:

• GM Billy Beane and his Money Ball—successful idea until you get to the post-season.
• Ken Macha, a respected manager, is back for his fourth year. His first three years, he’s averaged 91.7 wins/season.
• Great farm system but Oakland often let’s players go as they reach free agency, reach maturity, and get more expensive.

INTANGIBLES AND/OR OTHER STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES:

• Need a lefty in the bullpen. Where will they find one?
• Milton Bradley—can he keep his emotions in control?
• Macha—noted for making odd choices during a game that garner criticism.

CONCLUSION:

Money Ball may work to get a team into the post-season, but that’s about it. It’s the equivalent of getting invited to a wonderful, sumptuous dinner and never making it past the salad. Even if the A’s are in the playoffs, it’s unlikely they’ll go all the way to the World Series.

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For more information on the 2006 Oakland Athletics visit their official MLB website by clicking here.

 

2006 Baseball Team Previews

We have listed all of the 2006 MLB baseball teams below. Each team link will give you a team preview of the respected club. The left side is all of the american league previews, and the right columns contains all of the national league previews. To return to the main page click the 2006 MLB Season Preview link at anytime.


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