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Oakland A’s looking to the future in 2017

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER The A's are hoping Khris Davis can repeat his 2016 performance when he blasted 42 home runs to go along with 102 RBI's in 150 games.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The A’s are hoping Khris Davis can repeat his 2016 performance when he blasted 42 home runs to go along with 102 RBI’s in 150 games.

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

As the Oakland A’s prepare to return home from spring training in Arizona, many questions remain about what to expect from them in the 2017 season. While the prospects are strong for a noticeable improvement over last season’s 69-93 last place finish, the American League West is expected to once again be one of Baseball’s strongest divisions with stiff competition in the Rangers, Astros and Mariners.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Sonny Gray hopes to bounce back from an injury plagued 5-11 season with a 5.69 ERA, nearly three runs over his previous career high.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Sonny Gray hopes to bounce back from an injury plagued 5-11 season with a 5.69 ERA, nearly three runs over his previous career high.

With an anemic offense featuring only two batters with more than 75 RBI’s in 2016, the Athletics will need to see continued progress and maturity from their batting order if they hope to still be competitive once September rolls around. Without any significant additions to the pitching staff with the exception of Giants closer Santiago Casilla moving from across the bay, the A’s will also need to stay healthy, something they were unable to achieve last year.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Ryon Healy solidifIed the third base position while producing a 13/37/.305 line in the first 72 games of his career.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Ryon Healy solidifIed the third base position while producing a 13/37/.305 line in the first 72 games of his career.

Defensively, the left side of the infield looks strong. Third Baseman Ryon Healy showed significant promise solidifying the hot corner while hitting .305 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI’s in the first 72 games of his career. Shortstop Marcus Semien rebounded from a horrendous 2015 in the field by almost cutting his major league leading error total in half, while also demonstrating power at the plate with 27 home runs and 75 RBI’s. Stephen Vogt can again be expected to show his reliability both at catcher and in the field as playing in over 135 games for the second season in a row demonstrated.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Shortstop Marcus Semien  improved his performance dramatically on both sides of the plate last season, slugging 27 home runs with 75 RBI's  while only missing three games as his defense improved significantly from 2015 .
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Shortstop Marcus Semien improved his performance dramatically on both sides of the plate last season, slugging 27 home runs with 75 RBI’s while only missing three games as his defense improved significantly from 2015 .
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Stephen Vogt continues to provide consistency both behind the plate and in the field, playing over 135 games for a second straight season.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Stephen Vogt continues to provide consistency both behind the plate and in the field, playing over 135 games for a second straight season.

Manager Bob Melvin’s outfield has added depth with the addition of Matt Joyce and Rajai Davis. Davis was a solid addition as the teams lead off hitter. Returning to the Bay Area for the first time since establishing a career high with 50 stolen bases for the A’s in 2010, Davis is coming off a season where he led the American League with 43 stolen bases in Cleveland last year. Davis also blasted one of the most dramatic home runs in recent World Series history to help nearly bring the Indians their first championship since 1948. Khris Davis will again supply the lumber following a break out season where he tied for third in the American League with 42 home runs along with a team leading 102 RBI’s while playing 150 games.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Pitcher Kendall Graveman showed great promise  in 2016, throwing 186 innings in 31 starts in his second full season since coming over in the Josh Donaldson trade.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Pitcher Kendall Graveman showed great promise in 2016, throwing 186 innings in 31 starts in his second full season since coming over in the Josh Donaldson trade.

On the mound, Sonny Gray needs to both stay healthy and return to the form that made him the A’s ace almost immediately after his arrival in 2013. Kendall Graveman also showed great promise in 2016, throwing a solid 186 innings in his 31 starts. Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden are unproven question marks in the rotation, but Manaea showed signs of developing into a solid pitcher if he can harness his control. Ryan Dull looks solid in middle relief. If Dull can bridge the gap between the starters and the back end of the bullpen, and Sean Doolittle can regain his All-Star form of 2014 while Santiago Casilla reestablishes himself as the closer he was for the World Series champion Giants, it could be a strong step forward towards returning to serious contention.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Santiago Casilla moves back across the Bay after seven years and three World Series titles with the Giants.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Santiago Casilla moves back across the Bay after seven years and three World Series titles with the Giants.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Sean Doolittle hopes to regain the form that led to an All-Star Game selection in 2014.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Sean Doolittle hopes to regain the form that led to an All-Star Game selection in 2014.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER The A's hope Ryan Dull continues to be a lock-down middle relief pitcher bridging the gap between the starting rotation and the bullpen.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The A’s hope Ryan Dull continues to be a lock-down middle relief pitcher bridging the gap between the starting rotation and the bullpen.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Profile photo of Daniel Gluskoter
Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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