Are the Houston Astros the Most-Improved AL West Team?
3. Oakland Athletics
Sep 25, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the second inning of their MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless of team affiliation, the Oakland Athletics’ off-season moves are always fascinating. Who are they gunning for and why? After the still-stinging trade of Josh Donaldson and a disappointing finish to 2015, the A’s have been incredibly active on all fronts.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
They acquired immediate positional upgrades in Jed Lowrie and Yonder Alonso without giving away substantial talent. And, in classic Billy Beane fashion, the bullpen and starting rotation underwent a complete transformation.
Only Jesse Hahn, Sonny Gray, and Sean Doolittle return from the 2015 Opening Day pitching staff. Underrated acquisitions Liam Hendriks and Ryan Madson headline a bullpen that looks nothing like its 2015 iteration, which was 27th in the league with -0.1 WAR. Hendriks aside, the Athletics’ pitching acquisitions have a peculiar average age of 33.5 years old.
Perhaps they are betting on these veterans to bounce back and be dealt at the deadline, or if they are contending, to become key members of another charming Athletics team. Expect an additional move or two from Beane.
Next: 2. Seattle Mariners