Enemy Lines

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE A'S

Last year the A's overcame any obstacle or injury, and they're even deeper this year. Yoenis Cespedes is Willie Mays. Incredible bat speed—the ball sounds so much different coming off his bat. I was so impressed by what he did last year: new culture, new country, no minor league ball. I'm calling 40 homers and 30 steals.... You keep wondering when the league will make adjustments to Josh Reddick, especially since he never drives it out to leftfield.... You have to give batting coach Chili Davis credit for the advancement of these hitters. Take Brandon Moss—he used to have a closed stance and didn't get a good look at the ball. Davis got him to open up, and he hit 21 homers in half a season.... Everyone said Hiroyuki Nakajima was an offensive shortstop and a marginal defender. This spring he's been strong defensively, but he's a little behind on the fastball. Japan is a breaking-ball league, and it can be tough to make the adjustment.... They want to get Jed Lowrie 500 at bats, which means he'll have to play all over the infield. One concern is his lack of range. When he plays short for an extended period, he gets exposed.... Tommy Milone can be a Tom Glavine. He's not going to overwhelm you with stuff, but he wears hitters out.... Of all their young starters, I like Jarrod Parker best. He has star potential.... Their bullpen is ridiculous, one of the best. If Grant Balfour isn't healthy enough to close, they have Ryan Cook. They have Sean Doolittle throwing 96, 97 mph. Jerry Blevins, Pat Neshek, Chris Resop—all nasty.

The Lineup

2013 Projected Statistics

MANAGER BOB MELVIN

Third season with the Athletics

[originallink:10890631:1010898]

ROTATION W ERA WHIP K/9
LH BRETT ANDERSON 11 3.21 1.17 6.8
RH JARROD PARKER 14 3.53 1.29 7.3
LH TOMMY MILONE 11 4.02 1.27 6.5
RH A.J. GRIFFIN 7 3.97 1.20 7.0
RH BARTOLO COLON 8 4.03 1.32 6.3
BULLPEN SV ERA WHIP K/9
RH GRANT BALFOUR 27 2.69 1.03 8.7
RH RYAN COOK 6 2.80 1.14 9.1

NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE

LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM

The K Meter

Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank

BY HITTERS | 22.4% | 28TH

BY PITCHERS | 18.5% | 24TH

Best Case

All that one-run and extra-inning good juju carries over from '12; Cespedes lives up to his All-Star projections.

Worst Case

Last year's flaws—low batting average and OBP, too few missed bats—are exposed; the A's regress to '11 levels.

Ben Reiter has more on the A's at SI.com/mlb

Modest Proposal

After being acquired from Seattle in January, new catcher John Jaso spent the spring hitting in the lower reaches of the Oakland batting order. It was a waste of his talents. Jaso, who had a .394 on-base percentage last year and has a .368 career OBP against righthanded pitchers, would help the A's offense more by batting first or second. Oakland got a .326 OBP from the leadoff spot last year and a .309 OBP from the second slot, a perfect setup for an inefficient offense. This spring Coco Crisp (.329 career OBP) and Chris Young (.318) have shared leadoff duties, and while both fit the traditional image of a leadoff man—centerfielders with speed—neither gets on base enough. The A's offense is built on power, and they'll score more runs if the homers by Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss come with more runners on. Batting Jaso first isn't all that radical. He's started 53 career games in the leadoff spot, most of them with the Rays. His OBP in that role: .352—higher than the team marks of all but two teams last year.

PHOTOBRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CESPEDES)Yoenis Cespedes PHOTOJOHN BIEVER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JASO)
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)