Oakland Athletics: Why the A’s can win the AL West

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27: Sean Manaea #55 of the Oakland Athletics pours beer into his mouth as he celebrates clinching a wild card spot after the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27: Sean Manaea #55 of the Oakland Athletics pours beer into his mouth as he celebrates clinching a wild card spot after the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images) /

Oakland Athletics: Why the A’s can win the AL West

Outfield

Michael Brantley and presented the Astros with his best season in years. But he will be 33 in 2020, and the only safe way to play him is in bubble wrap. Mark Canha, who will get the bulk of time in left for Oakland, arguably produced at Brantley’s level in 2019, plus he is three years younger and more durable. In 2019 he had more home runs (26-22) than Brantley, a higher OPS+ (145-126) and a virtually identical WAR (4.5-4.6).

George Springer is a solid, if not an elite center fielder. He delivered 39 home runs, a .974 OPS and a 150 OPS+, all elite figures. Ramon Laureano can’t produce at those levels, but his game is solid and on an uptick. Establishing himself as a regular in 2019, he hit 24 home runs with a .860 OPS and a 128 OPS+.

Beyond that, Laureano is clearly the superior center fielder. His 51 Defensive Runs Saved in 2019 far outstripped Springer’s 14 DRS, and his 2.53 Range Factor was better than Springer’s 2.21. You’d still take Springer, but not by much.

Josh Reddick is a glorified filler piece for the Astros in right, coming off a season in which he produced an anemic 89 OPS+. The Oakland Athletics will likely counter with fillers of their own in the platoon of Stephen Piscotty and Robbie Grossman. Neither is likely to carry the team. Right field, then, is a functional wash.