2020 MLB Power Rankings: 11. Oakland Athletics


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Brendan Murphy, Assistant Sports Editor

If you’ve ever seen the movie or read the book “Moneyball,” you know how the Oakland Athletics run their organization. They typically have one of the lower payrolls in baseball as they are in a small market. To quote the Brad Pitt from the film, “There are rich teams and there are poor teams, then there is 50 feet of crap and then there’s us.”

The Athletics have the seventh lowest payroll in baseball according to Spotrac, yet they continue to be one of the better teams in the American League (AL). I place them just ahead of the Houston Astros as the number 11 ranked team in baseball.

If the 2002 Athletics proved anything to us, it’s that using advanced analytics to find and develop the right players makes a winning ball club. That is what they have continued to do on a yearly basis. They take players that fit their system, get on base and play the game well enough to make the team a contender.

It also helps that the Athletics have one of the best left sides of the infield in all of baseball with Matt Chapman manning the hot corner and Marcus Semien at short. Not a whole lot of baseball fans know those names outside of Oakland and those who do are either diehard baseball fans or fantasy baseball players.

Semien had a breakout season in 2019 playing in all 162 games while posting career bests in batting average (.285), hits (187), home runs (33), runs scored (123) and on-base pace slugging (892). Semien proved that he is one of the game’s best shortstops and finished third in the AL MVP voting to boot.

As for Chapman, he quietly posted 36 home runs while driving in 91 runs and scoring over 100 times en route to his first all star appearance. He is also arguably the league’s best defensive third baseman as he won his second straight gold and platinum glove awards, which are awarded to the AL’s best defender at any position. Pair them with the likes of Matt Olson and Khris Davis and you have one formidable lineup that can compete with anyone in the AL.

The rotation is a part of this team that isn’t completely proven, but has outstanding potential. Sean Manaea was dominant following his return from shoulder surgery in 2018, pitching to a 4-0 record in five starts with a 1.21 earned run average (ERA). He should continue to be the ace of this staff after proving the shoulder surgery didn’t affect his performance last season.

Despite being limited to just 16 starts due to an 80 game suspension, Frankie Montas shined in Manaea’s absence, posting a career low 2.63 ERA across 96 innings while striking out 103 batters. Mike Fires is also a crafty veteran who threw his second career no-hitter in 2019. He will likely be the fifth starter in what has the potential to be a quietly formidable rotation. The other two starters are rookies who made their big league debuts in 2019, Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk.

The Athletics’ three top prospects all made their major league debuts in 2019 and will all be in good position to make big impacts on the current iteration of the team, assuming the season eventually takes place.

The aforementioned Luzardo and Puk showcased their outstanding arsenals from the left side while pitching out of the bullpen down the stretch for the team. Now that rotation spots have opened up for the two of them, we will likely be able to witness their potential come to fruition in the not so distant future.

In-between the two on the top 30 team prospect list is the man who will be behind the plate for most of their starts, Sean Murphy. Murphy showed in a small sample size that he can compete at the big league level and his defense behind the plate could be his biggest strength.

The Athletics are looking up and have some really good pieces that could make this team a World Series Contender as soon as this year. We’ll have to see if they can make it through a very tough AL West division when and if the season finally gets underway.


Top Acquisition – Jake Deikman

Biggest loss – Blake Treinan

MVP – Matt Chapman

Projected Finish – 2nd in AL West


Projected Lineup:

  1. Marcus Semien, SS
  2. Matt Chapman, 3B
  3. Matt Olson, 1B
  4. Khris Davis, DH
  5. Ramon Laureano, CF
  6. Mark Canha, LF
  7. Stephen Piscotty, RF
  8. Sean Murphy, C
  9. Tony Kemp, 2B

Projected Rotation:

  1. Sean Manaea
  2. Frankie Montas
  3. Mike Fiers
  4. Jesus Luzardo
  5. A.J. Puk


Contact the Writer: [email protected]

Twitter: @B_Murphy_MU