Oakland Athletics 2019 Betting Odds, Preview: Can the A’s Stay Afloat Until Reinforcements Arrive?

Oakland Athletics 2019 Betting Odds, Preview: Can the A’s Stay Afloat Until Reinforcements Arrive? article feature image
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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sean Manaea.

  • The Athletics are coming off a surprising 97-win season, but are expected to drop way back in the eyes of the oddsmakers, with a 2019 win total of just 83.5.
  • One reason why they are expected to be much worse is because they are dealing with several injured starting pitchers, including Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, leaving their current rotation thin.
  • They also let several key names, such as Jed Lowrie and Jeurys Familia, walk in free agency, while only bringing in a couple meaningful players.
  • One new face that needs to step up to fill the hole Lowrie left is Jurickson Profar. The former top prospect is still young and coming off the best season of his career.

Ninety-seven wins for the Oakland Athletics?! Moneyball, baby. Moneyball.

I hate to break it to you, but the Athletics will not be winning 97 games again this season. No way, no how.

They have some intriguing players, but when you see their projected rotation and injury list further down the article, you’ll see why winning 90 games will be difficult for the 2019 A’s.

2018 Results

  • Record: 97-65 (+28.6 units, Best in MLB), 86-76 ATS (+9.3 units)
  • Over/Under Record: 79-73-10
  • Preseason World Series Odds: 200-1
  • Win Total: 75.5 (Best margin in MLB)
  • Most Profitable Starter: Edwin Jackson (14-3, +12.1 units)

The 2018 A’s were shockingly better than expected. When you go 22-4 in games started by Edwin Jackson and Mike Fiers, you know you’re getting lucky, though.

Oakland was truly an odd team. They went 31-14 in one-run games, the best mark in the league. They beat the living hell out of bad ballclubs, posting a 64-25 record vs. sub-.500 teams, but went just 33-40 against winning teams.

Oddsmakers never really bought into them, though. They were underdogs 79 times during the season. Compare that to 11 times a piece for the 103-win Astros and 92-win Dodgers and you can see why they were the most profitable team in baseball.

2019 Odds

  • World Series Odds: +2500
  • Division Odds: +800
  • Win Total O/U: 83.5
  • Playoff Odds: Make +240, Miss -300

With a win total of 83.5, the Athletics are expected to fall way back this year. At 13.5 games worse than last year’s record, they are tied for the second biggest differential in the MLB behind the Mariners (18.5). And you wonder why I like the over on the Astros’ win total?

I was hoping that their opening win total would be in the upper-80s so that I could hit the under hard, but the oddsmakers are smart. At this current number of 83.5, I don’t see much of an edge in either direction.

Roster Notes

  • Key Additions: Jurickson Profar, Joakim Soria, Tanner Anderson, Chris Herrmann, Robbie Grossman, Parker Bridwell, Nick Hundley (minors), Cliff Pennington (minors), Jerry Blevins (minors)
  • Key Subtractions: Jed Lowrie, Jeurys Familia, Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Joyce, Edwin Jackson, Shawn Kelley, Kendall Graveman, Trevor Cahill, Emilio Pagan
  • Potential Lineup
    1. Marcus Semien – SS
    2. Jurickson Profar – 2B
    3. Stephen Piscotty – RF
    4. Khris Davis – DH
    5. Matt Olson – 1B
    6. Matt Chapman – 3B
    7. Robbie Grossman – LF
    8. Ramon Laureano – CF
    9. Josh Phegley – C
  • Projected Rotation
    1. Mike Fiers
    2. Marco Estrada
    3. Brett Anderson
    4. Frankie Montas
    5. Chris Bassitt/Aaron Brooks
  • Prospect Watch: Jesus Luzardo (No. 12, LHP), A.J. Puk (No. 42, LHP),Sean Murphy (No. 45, C), James Kaprielian (Unranked, RHP), Jorge Mateo (Unranked, SS)
  • Key Injuries: Sean Manaea (Shoulder, possibly late 2019), Jharel Cotton (Tommy John, mid 2019), Daniel Gossett (Tommy John, possibly late 2019), A.J. Puk (Tommy John, mid 2019), Chris Herrmann  (Knee, return TBD), Nick Martini (Knee, early April)
  • MVP Candidates: Khris Davis (+3000), Matt Olson (+4000), Matt Chapman (+4000), Stephen Piscotty (+30000)
  • Cy Young Candidates: Mike Fiers (+8000), Jesus Luzardo (+10000), Daniel Mengden (+20000), Blake Treinen (+30000)

Analysis

Player to Watch: Jurickson Profar

This trade didn’t cause a national media frenzy, but it could end up being one of the bigger deals of the offseason if things play out for the Athletics.

The former No. 1 prospect, Jurickson Profar has had an unsuccessful career up to this point – largely in part due to a shoulder injury that forced him to miss two entire seasons. After an MLB debut at 19 years of age way back in 2012, he did essentially nothing until last year.

2018 was a career year for the versatile switch hitter, in which he hit 20 bombs, posted an OPS of .793, fWAR of 2.9 and several other career bests. He was better in the second half of the year, too, with an OPS of nearly .850.

He’ll be looking to carry that momentum over to his new team and finally prove everyone who called him a bust wrong. He played all over the diamond in Texas, but should slide in nicely at second base in Oakland following Jed Lowrie’s departure.

If he’s able to put up similar numbers as Lowrie did over the past couple years, it’ll be a big win for penny-pinching Oakland.

Pitcher to Watch: Jesus Luzardo

The Athletics rotation to begin the season looks prettay, prettay, prettay bad. Entering spring training, they’re probably the team most impacted by injuries. With that said, someone needs to step up during the first half of the year and their top prospect is the prime candidate to do that.

A 21-year-old southpaw, Luzardo came over as part of the Sean Doolittle trade from the Nationals in 2017. Since then, he’s shot up the prospect rankings and finds himself No. 12 in the MLB entering the season.

He’s not a big guy by any means, and at just 6 foot flat, is dwarfed by Oakland’s other top pitching prospect A.J. Puk. However, despite a diminutive frame for an MLB pitcher, he can hit the upper 90s with his fastball. He couples that with a slurvey breaking ball and changeup in the low-mid 80s.

He’s never pitched an inning in the majors, but has the potential to be the best starter Oakland has during the first half of the year.

With Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton and others dealing with injuries, he needs to be good. Otherwise, they have a Mike Fiers-led rotation for half a year, and I’d bet they don’t win as many of his starts as they did last year.

Summary

Led by home run champ Khris Davis, AKA Mr. .247, the Athletics have a powerful lineup. Davis, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman could combine for 100 dongs, with other bats like Stephen Piscotty, Marcus Semien and Profar all having 20-homer potential, too.

They better hit some bombs because that rotation is just…so bad. With only a couple definite starters to begin the season, they may even use the “opener” strategy that Tampa Bay popularized last year.

If there are not setbacks and Manaea, Cotton, Daniel Gossett and A.J. Puk can all get healthy and contribute in the second half of the year, they’ll end up with an excess of arms rather than a lack of them.

If all of those guys were healthy right now, I imagine their win total would be in the 87-88 range, but it’s tough to set the bar that high with Fiers potentially starting on opening day.

The bullpen, led by Blake Treinen and the newly acquired Joakim Soria, is solid, but that won’t matter if the starters blow games early. They also don’t want to be overworked, either, but there are a few guys that won’t make the rotation who can eat up innings in long relief work.

If you’re an Oakland fan, you just have to hope that they don’t dig themselves into a hole before those pitchers return. The current staff will be tested early on, too, with 12 games against the Astros and Red Sox through May 1st.

I think Billy Beane has assembled a nice little roster here, but I find it hard to believe they can compete with Houston this season. I don’t advise taking them to win their division or the World Series. If you like them, perhaps take them to make the playoffs or go over their win total.

With the way the postseason is formatted, a realistic best-case scenario is that they’ll make that second wild card spot again and hope things go better than they did vs. the Yankees last year.

All odds via Westgate SuperBook as of Feb. 22

Transactions accurate as of Mar. 19. Free agents deemed subtractions until they re-sign

Advanced data via Fangraphs.com, prospect ratings via MLB.com, prospects in prospect watch expected to be MLB-ready in 2019

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