Three Players That Should Make Athletics' Fans Not Lose Hope
The Oakland Coliseum in 2013; CC by License 2.0
The Oakland Athletics are in serious trouble. The franchise recently signed a binding agreement for the purchase of land close to the Las Vegas strip. The Oakland Coliseum opened in 1966, will be without a team in the next couple of years. Instead, the A’s will play in a 30,000-seat park worth $1.5 billion. This move is not set to happen until around 2027, but the fanbase is already extremely outraged by the announcement.
Starting in 2021, the A’s have been near the bottom or at the bottom of average attendance for home games. In 2021, they pulled an average of 8,767 fans, and 2022 saw the worst in the league with 9,973 fans at the average game. A’s fans argue that they have no real reason to come to the stadium to see their team play, as the team has not been competitive since the 2020 season. Ownership and MLB argue that there is no motive to field a competitive team when they can’t generate quality revenue at games.
It is clear that MLB and the city of Oakland have given up on the A’s. The Coliseum means a lot to Oakland natives but has failed to draw nearly enough fans to stay financially afloat in the past couple of MLB seasons. The move to Las Vegas, Nevada, will certainly shake things up for the franchise, which is something they desperately need. This article will look at budding stars on the 2023 Oakland A’s in an attempt to shed a positive light on a dim situation for fans.
Langliers was the biggest piece of the Matt Olson trade a few years ago. Since then, he has proven himself as a defensive wizard at the catching position with a good amount of power in his bat. The first-rounder played in just 40 games last season, as he was still sharing catching duties with Sean Murphy. With Murphy being moved to Atlanta, it is now time for Langliers to develop as a touted catching prospect. So far in 2023, he has proven he has the ability to hit the ball hard. He lands in the 85th percentile for Max Exit Velocity and the 54th for barrel percentage. These numbers pair well with his five home runs and 11 RBI early in 2023. Unfortunately, those percentiles are the only above-league-average rankings he has. The rest of his Baseball Savant page is underwhelming, with ranks like the 6th percentile in expected batting average, 23rd in average exit velocity, and 25th in strikeout percentage. However, the season is still young, and Shea has a lot of time to correct these shortcomings. He has already played in over half of the games he did in 2022 with 21 games and 80 plate appearances. Another impressive part of Shea’s game is his rankings in speed. As a primary catcher, he ranks in the 81st percentile for sprint speed. This quality is rare for catchers and having a catcher who can move is something that can win games. There is no other option for the future of catching for the A’s at the moment. Langliers will have the entire 2023 season to establish himself as a core member of the squad, with hopes to join the franchise when their move to Vegas goes down.
Shea Langeliers Statcast, Visuals & Advanced Metrics | MLB.com | baseballsavant.com
Rooker, ironically, is not one of the A’s many rookies on the 2023 team. Rooker was drafted by the Twins in 2017 and has been bounced around many teams’ minor-league systems since then. He has played for the Twins, Padres, Royals, and now, the A’s. For one of the first times in his career, Rooker has been able to translate his dominance of AAA pitching into the MLB. So far this season, he is slashing .333/.444/.725 in 63 plate appearances and 17 games played. He leads the team in home runs with six and has an impressive 220 wRC+. The underlying numbers back up Rooker’s success, too. He ranks in the 75th percentile and above for just about every stat on his Savant page. The most important ranks are in the 90th and above, with the most notable being in the 98th percentile in expected slugging, 97th in barrel percentage, 91st in average exit velocity, and 94th in walk percentage. There is a real question of the length of his career with the A’s, however, as this could be the example of a player the front office looks to move at the trade deadline. Rooker may end up performing too well and fall victim to the Moneyball-mentality in the organization. One thing is clear: Rooker has been the best part of the A’s offense in 2023. A power-hitting corner outfielder like Rooker would look good hitting bombs in the dry, desert air in Vegas.
Brent Rooker Statcast, Visuals & Advanced Metrics | MLB.com | baseballsavant.com
Mason Miller is the rare, home-grown player in the A’s system. He was drafted in 2021 in the 3rd round by the A’s out of Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. Shockingly, Miller threw just 20.2 innings in the minor leagues before being called up to the MLB. In 2 starts for the A’s, Miller has impressed the league with an electric fastball and well-located secondary pitches. Miller’s fastball in his debut topped at 102.5 mph and was consistently in the 98-100 range. His story to the big leagues is impressive, as he essentially bypassed the entire minor leagues and went straight to the top in the MLB. This young power pitcher has incredible potential. With the worst pitching staff in the league, the A’s became desperate for an answer in their rotation. Miller could end up being that guy. The hasty promotion to the MLB is not risky for the A’s, as they find themselves in last place in their division with the league-worst 5-19 record. While Miller doesn’t have the sample size right now, look for him to be talked about much more in the future. His stuff has the ability to cement him as the brightest spot in the weakest pitching staff in baseball in 2023.
Mason Miller - Stats - Pitching | FanGraphs Baseball
The crazy thing about how the Oakland A’s are run is that all the players mentioned above may be off the team by the time the next season starts. The A’s are known to ship off talent for prospect hauls to support their never-ending rebuild phases. However, the players above, if allowed to remain on the team, could be the future of the franchise. The A’s are in a terrible spot currently. They are on pace to be one of the worst teams in recent MLB history. In my opinion, the move to Vegas could save the franchise. The front office clearly is looking for motivation to invest more in their team, and a new stadium in a new state could end up being that factor. For the sake of fans in Oakland, I hope the Vegas plan does not mean that the A’s will be bottom-feeders for the next three or four years.