2022 Season Review: Oakland Athletics

Check out William Gregory’s 2022 Season Preview Article for the Oakland Athletics here.

Image: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

2022 Record: 60-102 (.370 win%, 5th in Division)

2022 Payroll: $61,017,600 (30th)

2022 Lineup:

1. C Sean Murphy, .250 AVG/.332 OBP/.426 SLG, 5.1 fWAR

2. 1B Seth Brown, .230 AVG/.305 OBP/.444 SLG, 1.8 fWAR

3. 2B Tony Kemp, .235 AVG/.307 OBP/.334 SLG, 1.5 fWAR

4. SS Elvis Andrus*, .237 AVG/.301 OBP/.373 SLG, 1.6 fWAR 

5. 3B Vimael Machin, .220 AVG/.300 OBP/.287 SLG, -0.1 fWAR

6. LFChad Pinder, .235 AVG/.263 OBP/.385 SLG, -0.1 fWAR

7. CF Cristian Pache, .166 AVG/.218 OBP/.241 SLG, -1.0 fWAR  

8. RF Ramon Laureano, .211 AVG/.287 OBP/.376 SLG, 0.9 fWAR

9. DH Jed Lowrie, .180 AVG/.245 OBP/.263 SLG, -1.0 fWAR

10. UTL Sheldon Neuse, .214 AVG/.273 OBP/.288 SLG, -0.5 fWAR 

2022 Rotation:

1. Cole Irvin, 181.0 IP/3.98 ERA/1.16 WHIP, 1.4 fWAR

2. James Kaprielian, 134.0 IP/4.23 ERA/1.34 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR

3. Paul Blackburn, 111.1 IP/4.28 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 0.8 fWAR

4. Frankie Montas*, 104.2 IP/3.18 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 1.9 fWAR

5. Adam Oller, 74.1 IP/6.30 ERA/1.62 WHIP, -1.1 fWAR

2022 Top 4 Relievers:

1. CL Dany Jimenez, 34.1 IP/3.41 ERA/1.19 WHIP, 0.4 fWAR

2. Domingo Acevedo, 67.2 IP/3.33 ERA/0.99 WHIP, 0.0 fWAR

3. A.J Puk, 66.1 IP/3.12 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR

4. Sam Moll, 43.1IP/2.91 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 0.0 fWAR

Regular Season Recap:

The Oakland Athletics season was over before it even began. After a tumultuous offseason in which the team did not re-sign any of their core players from the year before, and the loss of longtime skipper Bob Melvin to the Padres, it was bound to be a long and miserable season for the franchise. Resentment from the fans to owner John Fisher for not spending money on players resulted in record-low attendance numbers, going along with one of the worst records in the history of the team. 

Who can blame the fans? They put up with this about every four to five years when the team chooses not to retain the prospects that make a name for themselves in the bigs. With a lackluster lineup consisting of no stars, and at best mediocre pitching, the A’s were in first place for one day this season, and were forty seven games behind the Astros at their worst. You can say the results go in line with the product that ownership produces.

The “Moneyball” A’s were able to find under the radar players who sign for cheap and get on base. Well, they did one of these things, sign players for cheap. The 2022 A’s finished dead last Batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. You get the product you put out, as the A’s had an abysmal offensive season stemming from their careless offseason. On paper, the lineup consisted of no player batting above .250 with any sort of markable big name player. 

The most exciting players on the team were Sean Murphy and Seth Brown. Murphy had a breakout season, posting career numbers in every offensive category. His development as a hitter has really come around since he first entered the league, which the A’s should be grateful for, as they can hopefully retain the backstop for the foreseeable future. 

As for Brown, he set career highs in many offensive categories as his bat provided proficient power for the team that finished third to last in homeruns. These two players were the heartbeat of the offense this season, providing runs the A’s had a hard time coming across. While a light here was lit, the wick would soon be put out when analyzing the rest of the team. 

After the re-signing of Ramon Laureano to a one year deal, and bringing back former A’s fan favorite, Jed Lowrie, the two produced both the worst seasons of their career. Laureano mightily regressed from past seasons offensively posting many career lows including average and on base, while Lowrie finished in the bottom twenty of the league in fWAR. Along with the underwhelming performance of these players, the lineup consisted of beyond below average play, with mediocrity at best. Chad Pinder, and Tony Kemp performed very subpar in comparison to their previous season. 

The addition of prospects in the Matt Olson trade to Atlanta were made up of Cristian Pache and Shea Langeliers. Pache, in his first full season in the show, put up dreadful numbers. Pache was in the bottom twenty in the league in fWAR, while also posting horrendous on-base numbers, as well as batting average. For a speedy defensive outfielder, even that bat was bad. He was a main piece in the Olson trade and could be out of the league within a matter of years with these abysmal statistics. 

On a brighter note, Langeliers got called up on August 16th, and while having a small sample size, he produced well enough to give the Oakland faithful some hope for his future. The rest of the lineup overall consisted of platooning underdeveloped players amongst the infield and outfield, making the roster minor league-esque.
With Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino on the roster up until being dealt to the Yankees, Montas pitched admirably for the times he pitched, but the A’s couldn’t come across runs for him. Trivino, a main staple of the bullpen in prior years, struggled mightily putting up career lows in WHIP, ERA, and strikeouts. 

The return the Athletics got from the Yankees was made up of pitching prospects JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, and Luis Medina, as well as second base prospect Cooper Bowman. Sears and Waldichuk both pitched for the A’s this season putting up respectable numbers for each of their first seasons in the league. 

The core of the rotation was led by 2022 lone A’s All-Star Paul Blackburn, whose emergence this season was very complimentary in terms of an A’s player. Blackburn was excellent on the road this season going 6-1 with an 2.12 ERA, however his splits at home were underwhelming. The veteran Blackburn pitched career highs this year in all statistics as he led the rotation followed by the improved Cole Irvin and James Kaprielian.

A number of various pitchers stood in as the number four and five starters, which consisted of little big league experience. Adam Oller is the third player on the roster to finish in the bottom twenty of league wide fWAR as his first season in the show was a rough one. 

The A’s bullpen wasn’t too bad. Prior to injury, closer Dany Jimenez was having a breakout year. After having a cup of tea with the Giants, Jimenez crossed the Bay Bridge to Oakland, where the 28 year old broke through and established himself a piece in the A’s pen for next season. The closer saved 11 games this season going on the average a strikeout an inning prior to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. 

Domingo Acevedo came into his own this year, providing the most innings pitched in the A’s bullpen with respectable splits in amongst his stats. Former top prospect AJ Puk finally put together a healthy season, in which he produced career highs in games played, innings pitched, ERA, Ks, and WHIP. Having a healthy Puk is a sight to see for management and fans as Puk’s presence shines bright on the future of A’s baseball. Sam Moll, who came out of the clouds this season, also pitched reputable establishing himself as a solid middle reliever. 

Even with the development of some young players, the Oakland Athletics are in an extremely tough spot in terms of overall major league talent, and 2022 showed that.

M-SABR Predicted Record (67-95) vs. Actual (60-102):
The author of the Athletics Season Preview, William Gregory, was pretty spot on with his predictions and analysis. A main theme of the A’s season was the unknown depth the team had, which would be seen throughout the season, in players earning their shot to play. 
Pointing out how no team would be envious of the Athletics situation is an understatement. Brad Pitt said it best, “There’s good teams, and there are bad teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap. And then there’s us”. The Athletics are at rock bottom and their situation is a real concerning one. 

Surprise of the Season:
In my eyes, the surprise of the season was by far the improvement of catcher Sean Murphy. In prior years, I explained to my friends that Murphy’s offense holds him back as a cornerstone piece of the franchise. However, Murphy flew out of the gates this season, shocking most people by producing career highs in significant offensive categories. This encouraging sign shines hopes on a position that has been extremely volatile in the league in recent years.

Catching is an excellent position to have in surplus and the A’s sure do. It will be interesting to see how the franchise handles the position in the future with prospect Shea Langeliers looming, as well as their number one prospect, Tyler Soderstrom. Adding on to the stack, the A’s drafted Daniel Susac in the first round of this past Summer’s draft. Susac is a legit prospect who can swing the bat at an elite level as well as defending and managing the game superbly. 

The bullpen as a whole was the biggest bright spot for the team this season in terms of a singular unit. With the emergence of multiple bullpen arms, as well as a healthy AJ Puk, the A’s exceeded expectations of their bullpen, even with a career low year out of Trivino before the trade. These relievers definitely deserve a spot in the pen at the start of next season as they have established themselves in a tryout-like year for the following season. 

The best moment of the season for the A’s happened in the last game of the season. What is a baseball season without a romantic moment? At the beginning of the season, veteran catcher, Stephen Vogt, signed a one year deal with the club to provide the team with veteran leadership. An ultimate clubhouse guy, Vogt stuck around throughout the whole season, setting an example for the younger players for what it takes to be a part of the big leagues. 

After announcing his retirement quietly on September 22, the veteran represented the epitome of a blue collar type worker, who persevered throughout his career to establish himself as a savvy player. Vogt worked endlessly till the very end of the season literally, I mean who doesn’t want this type of person on their team.

It was only fitting that his kids announced first at bat of the game to later proceed and hit a home run in his final at bat in the Show:

I played baseball for 18 years, and my final at bat was a homerun. The thrill is unexplainable, and you truly get overwhelmed with emotions. 

Players We Watched

Frankie Montas

Frankie Montas was an Oakland Athletic up until the trade deadline. Shockingly enough, Montas was the only big piece of the old A’s roster to not be traded in the offseason. Montas regressed this season in terms of fWAR, but this is also a result of a lackluster offensive team that simply could not produce runs at all for their pitchers. The haul in return for the Montas trade was handsomely composed of pitching prospects, two who made their debut this year in JP Sears and Ken Waldichuk. 

With promising appearances starting this year, those prospects look promising to an extent, as the ceiling for these players could grow with the right development. As for the other two prospects the team received, second baseman Cooper Bowman, who hit poorly in the 2022 minor league season, and pitching prospect Luis Medina, who put up decent stats in Double A with the Yanks, however after the trade Medina pitched to a 11.76 ERA in Double A with the A’s, walking 22 guys in 20 innings.

Cristian Pache

Going into the season, I was most excited to see the addition of Cristian Pache and what he could bring to the table coming over from the Braves. With Pache’s first full season under his belt, one word that sums up his season, pathetic. Pache may even be the most disappointing part of the 2022 A’s. After being listed as the number four prospect in the A’s system, the few A’s fans that had interest in the season had a new shiny toy to watch. 

After watching some of the early games in the season, one thing became evident about Pache, this guy was addicted to not taking pitches. Pache’s is one of the fastest players in the league with his speed being scouted at 80/80. With his speed, it is necessary for him to get on base and help the team produce runs on the base paths. Although not qualified, Pache would have the lowest batting average and on-base percentage in the league. Pache, when not taking pitches, struggled heavily swinging the bat. Pache struck out 70 times in 241 while only walking 15 times. 

It’s very critical to say he wasn’t making an adjustment prior to being sent down but wow, these numbers were beyond poor, especially for an integral piece of a trade in which they dealt their perennial all star first baseman Matt Olson. This a major issue for the Athletics going forward if Pache cannot figure out hitting at the major league level. These numbers for Pache, if still persistent, can drive him out of the league or at best a specialty pinch runner/ defensive substitution if he doesn’t figure out his approach at the plate soon. 

Jonah Bride 

Jonah Bride just sounds like the name of an Oakland A player. Bride made his major league debut this season on June 14th. As an unheralded prospect, Bride performed modestly based upon his ranking in the minor leagues, and the preconceived expectations about him. Bride slashed .204/.301/.247 which isn’t great by any means, but he did contribute to the team in a platoon role. He also hit one homerun on the season coming off Gerrit Cole, which is pretty cool if you ask me. Bride was definitely one of the longer-leashed guys fighting for playing time this season as he played in fifty eight games. 

Offseason Outlook

The A’s are in a place they honestly have not been in a really long time. Sure, every four to five years or so they clean house of the prospects that produce at the major league level. However, going into the 2022 season, the A’s didn’t just clean house, they absolutely destroyed the house and pissed on the foundation. Last offseason’s acts did not sit right with fans at all.

Realistically from a free agency standpoint, you won’t see the A’s going after big marketable names like Judge, Rodon, Trea Turner, etc. That’s not who the A’s are, but the issue with this team goes well beyond free agency, which I’ll dive into later. Sticking with the free agent narrative however, you can expect the A’s to probably spend a little more money on free agents, signing veterans like Jose Iglesias, Wade Miley, with the most marketable player being along the lines of a Joc Pederson type player. 

This is the recipe for the A’s, signing players to small deals, who will eventually walk out of Oakland with a bigger contract than what they were just getting paid. Oakland is the farm system for all of MLB, a sad but somewhat true comparison. 

The A’s almost have no trade value in pieces with their current team, unless they wanted to become a minor league team for the next decade. However, eluding back to before, the A’s do have a plentiful number of catchers in Murphy, Langiliers, Soderstrom, and Susac. Maybe a trade that incorporates one of these guys to field more prospects would be good for the Athletics as they currently rank 17th on mlb.com in farm systems. 

Something to Watch:

The A’s produced the lowest average attendance this season at 9,973 a game and had a total of 787,902 fans attend for the season. Although the A’s have always had low attendance, fans made sure of it this year essentially boycotting owner John Fisher for the decisions he has made with the franchise. Fisher has been deemed a cheapskate by the Oakland fans for his apprehension in acquiring players that contribute to forming a competitive team. Being from the Bay Area, it is extremely evident how disappointed the A’s fan base is. The constant rotation of players throughout the years, leading to Fisher not resigning any core players, leaves the franchise and fans in a constant cycle of experiencing mediocrity.

Although an extreme long shot, something to look out for is John Fisher selling the team. Golden State Warriors Owner, Joe Lacob, was once very close to purchasing the organization before former MLB commissioner Bud Selig, approved the sale of the A’s to his longtime friend in Fisher. In an SI article by Thomas Nuemann, Lacob stated that a “standing offer” for him to buy the team from Fisher has been outstanding for more than 10 years. 

Another main factor of also why the A’s attendance is down is the Oakland Coliseum. One of the worst stadiums in all of the United States is home to one of the poorest and lowest attendance franchises in the U.S sports sphere. The need for the A’s to get a new stadium is a necessity for them to remain in Oakland. The idea of building the stadium at Howard’s Terminal, a port along the bay, has been in the works for years now. However, the city of Oakland has been extremely reluctant of this project happening and the little that gets done, the greater chance the city of Oakland loses another sports franchise. 

Early in the season, commissioner Rob Manfred stated that the works of a new stadium need to ramp up or the team could be relocating soon (presumably to Vegas). It is sad to say but for how John Fisher runs the organization, it is only seemingly, he wants to move the team to Vegas and secure the money for himself while increasing the franchise’s value. The A’s would thrive in Vegas, as sports are slowly making its way to the city. However, in all ends, this would be a detrimental loss for the city and its rich history. 

Oakland has already lost the Raiders to Vegas, and the Warriors to San Francisco. The chance of Oakland its third team in four years is heartbreaking. The Athletics are in a vulnerable place as a franchise, not only on the competing side, but the community who supports the team as well. Driving out a team that has been in the city for 54 years would not sit well with the fans. The lackluster attendance shouldn’t be put on the fan base, as there are only many die hard A’s fans, they just have never been treated properly in return for their fandom. 

The Oakland Athletics are in a dire state of being, and things need to be changed soon, or the worst of the A’s community will perish in the city, that is everso dedicated to the franchise they love and support. As a Bay Area native, it would be heartbreaking seeing the A’s leave. 

But hey, once you’ve hit rock bottom, it is only up from there, right?

Categories: 2022 Season Review, Articles, Post-COVID

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1 reply

  1. Great summary. There is truly nothing much to be excited about in terms of personnel in the org. You didnt sugarcoat it. It’s clear the trades of 3 stars off the 2021 roster netted them less than expected. Especially liked your projection for free agency which sounds accurate. Cant wait for wade miley opening day. – a joke & A’s fan reality, all the same.

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