Team Ace: Tommy Milone
Most Valuable Position Player: Yoenis Cespedes
Breakout Candidate: Hiroyuki Nakajima
Notable Offseason Additions: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Chris Young
Notable Offseason Losses: Bandon McCarthy, Chris Carter
Biggest Team Weakness: Lack of offensive production from the infield.
The second 2012 playoff team to make this list is essentially a souped up version of Baltimore. Like the Orioles, there isn’t much you can say about any individual players, and they have a true ERA. But unlike the Orioles, the Athletics’ ERA and opponent’s batting average were the second best in the American League. The starting pitching was able to success even with their opening day starter Bandon McCarthy out for most of the year. With McCarthy gone for good, they should continue to build on the success.
Hiroyuki Nakajima, the short stop who they signed from Japan, will look to follow Yoenis Cespedes’ footsteps this season. At 27, the power hitting Cespedes came to the A’s from Cuba and put up monster numbers when he was on the field, and making the team’s outfield a strength. Josh Redick played higher than expectations, with a power surge that complimented Coco Crisp’s elite speed. That means that Nakajima, a triple threat of speed, consistency, and power, could give them the spark they need to become a more dominating offense.
A hindrance for the team will be their division, but they were able to beat out the Angles and Rangers last season, and if their management can be as effective as it was down the stretch they could be looking at another playoff appearance.