2024 Oakland Athletics O/U: Why the Athletics Hit the OVER

Coming off a historically dreadful (50-112) 2023 season, the only way the Oakland Athletics can go on the field is up. Ahead of the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season’s start, Vegas oddsmakers are predicting the team to win around 56 games, the lowest preseason win estimate since at least 1990, and the fifth team in the past 35 years to have a preseason over/under below 60.

While the A’s may not come close to postseason contention, the continued maturation and development of their numerous young pitchers and hitters, along with some low-key offseason additions, should lead to more wins than last year’s shambolic performance.

Why The Athletics Clear the Low O/U

Last Year’s Disaster

In 2023, manager Mark Kotsay’s team struggled in all facets of the game, constantly playing non-competitive encounters in front of minuscule home crowds. Their pitchers often failed to prevent opposing hitters from reaching base and scoring runs, and Oakland’s offense did not have enough Major League caliber hitters to compensate.

Many members of this rebuilding roster, such as opening-day starting pitcher Kyle Muller, pitcher Luis Medina, and catcher Shea Langeliers, took their share of lumps when thrust into the Major League spotlight and now have the chance to emerge as better, more consistent players in their second season with this franchise.

Reasons for optimism

Brent Rooker, Zack Gelof, and Ryan Noda all return after proving critical to Oakland’s offense last season. Outfielder/designated hitter Rooker represented the team in the All-Star Game and finished the season with thirty home runs after winning the final outfield roster spot in Spring Training.

Then, one of the team’s top prospects, second baseman Zach Gelof, showcased his all-around ability in the second half following his post-All-Star break promotion from Triple-A. Noda, the team’s selection in the 2023 Rule-5 Draft, won and held on to the first base job the whole season, using his elite batting eye to draw a lot of walks and bash 16 home runs. Noda and Gelof already have gotten their bats going in early preseason action.

In addition, record-breaking speedster Estuery Ruiz could become more of a threat at the plate if the outfielder figures out a way to hit the ball with more force to get on base more often and rack up more extra-base hits. Fellow outfielders Lawrence Butler and JJ Bleday also possess untapped potential, with Bleday running out of time to live up to his status as the Miami Marlins’ choice with the fourth overall pick in 2019.

On the mound, rookie flamethrowing right-handed pitcher Mason Miller dazzled over a few appearances before suffering another long-term arm injury. In an attempt to preserve his arm and keep him healthy, he will pitch out of the bullpen this year, with the potential to become the team’s closer. Starting pitchers Medina and Joe Boyle can also light up the radar gun to triple digits. Both players battling for the team’s final rotation spot have had a positive start to Spring Training. With improved strike-throwing, these two can be a big reason behind Oakland’s return from the abyss.

During the offseason, the A’s recruited former San Francisco Giants pitchers Alex Wood and Ross Stripling to give its young pitching staff needed experience and be a place for these two players to rebound from disappointing past seasons.

Off the Field Perspective

Nowadays, this organization finds itself in national sports news daily for its heavily dramatized, endless quest to finalize plans for a new future stadium in Las Vegas. As time passes, more and more questions emerge regarding whether the team’s owner, John Fisher, will complete this multi-year relocation quest.

Meanwhile, the organization’s lease at their current stadium expires after this year, and the team has yet to announce where they will be playing home games during the three or four years (2025-2028) it will take to build the new Las Vegas MLB stadium. Given that this may be the A’s final year in Oakland, one can hope this franchise will not leave the city on a whimper.

The team has had so much success and has been home to many talented players since they moved from Kansas City, Missouri, to Oakland, California, in 1968. The horribly-run franchise is on the verge of rejoining its former stadium cohabitant Raiders, abandoning one of the most passionate and organized fanbases in America for Nevada’s gambling riches and public money assistance to help build a stadium.

Somewhere between 60-75 wins should be the low-end goal for the 2024 A’s because winning tends to help distract from things happening off the field. It will be challenging given the lack of investment in the team’s payroll and because the American League West is home to the last two World Series champions (Houston Astros and Texas Rangers) plus an on-the-rise Seattle Mariners squad.

However, things can not get worse for the A’s, and whatever fans this team still has left deserve something positive to cheer about before it’s too late.

Main Image: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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