Oakland Athletics Season Recap

Oakland Athletics Season Recap

by October 26, 2021 0 comments

The Oakland Athletics had made the playoffs three years in a row entering the 2021 season. They were expected to battle for a spot again. They did just that, up until the last week of the season when they got swept by their division rivals, the Seattle Mariners. Oakland had a good thing going into August, and they were relatively healthy especially in the starting rotation. On August 4, it came down that centerfielder Ramon Laureano had violated the MLB’s Joint Drug Policy and was suspended for 80 games. With newly acquired Starling Marte in tow, the A’s won the next six games and were 67-48 On August 12.

They wound up going 19-28 the rest of the way. The A’s lost Chris Bassitt in a scary moment when he was hit with a 100-mph line drive on August 17. Matt Chapman had an off-year at the plate and Elvis Andrus was not quite the replacement Oakland had in mind for Marcus Semien. Jed Lowrie, who had a solid first half, could not continue it in the second half and sported a .635 OPS after the All-Star break.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Season Recaps.

Key Info

Manager: Bob Melvin
Record: 86-76
Position: Third in the AL West
Playoffs: Missed Postseason

Overall Performance

The A’s were a pretty good team overall this season. The problem was that they didn’t do one thing particularly well. Oakland wasn’t great defensively finishing as a team with -9 DRS. They stole 88 bases finishing fourth in the AL, but they were in the middle third of the league in runs, HRs, and OPS. As a staff, they were good at limiting walks finishing second in the AL with 439. They also finished 10th in strikeouts. With slightly subpar defense, allowing the opposing team to put the ball in play that much is not a recipe for success.

Health was a key for the starting rotation as Sean Manaea, Cole Irvin, Frankie Montas, James Kaprielian, and the aforementioned Bassitt started 144 games this season. Unfortunately, the replacements they had for the other 18 games pitched to an awful 6.02 ERA with a 1.636 WHIP while striking out just 59 in 80.2 innings. The A’s didn’t need their replacements much, but when they did, they were certainly below average. Now let’s put a positive spin on the season with some awards.

MVP, Best Hitter, and Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Olson

The left-handed slugger led the team in just about every meaningful offensive category hitting 39 homers with a .911 OPS, a .379wOBA, and 146 wRC+. The first baseman was also in the lineup nearly every day playing in 156 games, which also led the team. Throw in that he finished third on the team with six DRS and you have the runaway MVP of the A’s.

He also took a serious step back in the shortened 2020. Olson slashed just .195/.310/.424 with a .316 wOBA and 103 wRC+. After a breakout season in 2019 (.368 wOBA, 135 wRC+) he managed to get back to what should be expected as the norm for him going forward. He will be just 28 when the 2022 season starts and Olson proved this year that he is in his prime and 2020 was just a fluke.

Starting Pitcher of the Year: Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt

There is a tie here as Montas led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. He also had a quality start in 13 of his final 15 times toeing the rubber. His 3.37 ERA and identical FIP were both second among starters to the guy who also gets this award. Bassitt came back from his near-devastating injury to pitch in a couple of games in September. He led the starters in most significant rate categories. Too tough of a choice here so they both get the nod.

Relief Pitcher of the Year: Lou Trivino

The Oakland closer saved 22 games this season. While he wasn’t incredible with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.97 K/BB rate, he was the best the A’s had. The bullpen wasn’t exactly a strong suit of the A’s so Trivino edges out deadline acquisition Andrew Chafin. The lefty pitched well, coming over from the Chicago Cubs, but Trivino was there all year and appeared in 43 more games than Chafin.

Best Fielder of the Year: Sean Murphy

Normally Chapman or Olson would be here, but this season Murphy takes the title. He tied the A’s third baseman with 10 DRS despite playing in nearly 400 fewer innings. Not only is Murphy the best fielder on the team, he may very well win the Gold Glove. He led all MLB catchers with a 19.6 dWAR and finished second with 9.7 FRM. He was also slightly above average with 24 percent of attempted runners thrown out while allowing just one passed ball all season.

What’s Next?

Oakland is always competitive, but fans have to be getting a little antsy since their team hasn’t gone far in the playoffs since making the ALCS in 2006. Their farm system isn’t great and they are a small-market team. The A’s have done a good job with that payroll and seem to find diamonds in the rough to keep them in the mix. However, Oakland will have to continue doing that with Chapman and Olson both free agents after the 2023 season.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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