Josh Reddick has his focus set on another playoff birth for Oakland. (Image Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)

2013 MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics

In a season full of surprising teams, were any of them more of a shock than the Oakland Athletics? The team nobody believed could be in contention managed to win the AL West on the season’s final afternoon, finishing 94-68, before losing in the Division Series against the Detroit Tigers. Oakland followed the recipe that’s worked in the past for them: strong starting pitching paired with a clutch offense. Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, and A.J. Griffin all shined. Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss combined for over 50 HR. Yoenes Cespedes nearly won the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Plenty went right for the A’s in 2012, but we’ll see how much that helps them be better in 2013.

With the start of the 2013 Regular Season upon us, it seemed like the ideal time to check in with each of our team sites here at FanSided MLB and check out what our experts have to say on the upcoming season. From Swingin’ A’s, let’s check in with Senior Editor Sean Davis and see what he had to say about the team’s best and worst case scenarios, as well as what’s most likely to happen.

Best Case Scenario

The young pitching continues to improve, Yoenis Cespedes is an MVP candidate, Josh Reddick emerges as one of the best all-around RF in the AL, Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson are for real, and the lockdown bullpen stays a lockdown bullpen.  The A’s repeat as AL West Champs and make a deep postseason run.

Worst Case Scenario

Sophomore slumps for the pitching staff, Reddick regresses badly, Cespedes can’t stay healthy, the unsettled middle infield proves to be a team weakness.  They finish in 4th place behind LA, Texas, and Seattle and the future for the team is once again in question.

Most Likely to Happen

Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, and Josh Donaldson take a slight step back from their 2012 numbers but are still productive hitters.  The pitching staff puts up solid innings, but the league adjusts to them a bit.  The Angels take the division while the Rangers and A’s battle for a wild card spot right down to the end of the regular season. 

Oakland has plenty of questions as they enter the 2013 season – as they do many years, given the limited budget that Billy Beane works with each season. Can Donaldson step up and give the team a reliable everyday third baseman? Will someone take the reigns at first base? The future of the middle infield and bullpen are also huge unknowns. There is more certainty in the outfield and behind the plate, so all is not lost when it comes to the Oakland lineup.

But, it’s pitching that has always been the calling card of the winning A’s teams. Milone and Parker will both need to continue their development while helping to lead the rotation for Oakland to reach the postseason once again. Brett Anderson’s health could also be a factor, but he’s sort of passing the torch onto his younger teammates at this point when it comes down to the future of this rotation.

For plenty of news and insight on all things A’s, be sure to check out Swingin’ A’s.

Tags: Oakland Athletics

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