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Elephant Rumblings: Looking at the A’s Opening Day lineup positional strengths

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

HAPPY OPENING DAY, Athletics Nation!

While the A’s don’t start their season until tomorrow, today marks the beginning of the 2022 MLB campaign. With the last round of cuts to the minors, and the final spring game in the books, the Athletics are ready to take on the Phillies and begin the season.

With the Opening Day roster settled, we can dive into the strengths and weaknesses that the Athletics will start things off with. Over the last week and a half, FanGraphs have been publishing their positional power rankings for 2022. These rankings have gone through each team’s depth charts position-by-position and attempted to provide a definitive list of effectivity of the positions. Let’s see how the A’s shake out across the rankings.

The Good:

The A’s highest rank lies behind the plate. Ranked fourth overall for catchers led by gold-glover Sean Murphy, and further bolstered by breakout candidate Austin Allen, and veteran Stephen Vogt. The high-profile catching prospects Tyler Soderstom and Shea Langeliers add to the esteem given to A’s backstops, especially with the chance that Murphy may get moved when he gets that much more expensive in his arbitration years.

The OK:

There are two positions where the Athletics sit in the middle of the pack: right field and second base. Their right field 11th place ranking is buoyed by the inclusion of Ramon Laureano with the assumption that he will be fielded in right when he returns from the remaining 27 games of his suspension. Manager Mark Kotsay has said that he expects Ramon to return in center field, and that his spring was only spent in right so that the team could try out first-month replacements for Laureano. After Ramon, the expectations fall to near replacement level with regular right fielder Stephen Piscotty, and Seth Brown and Chad Pinder being slotted in for spot starts as well.

The A’s sit just below the halfway mark with a second base ranking of sixteenth. Tony Kemp and his resilience in the back half of the 2021 season kept the Athletics in the middle of the pack. Kemp has had a promising spring, and should be looking to continue his adjusted approach as the A’s near-daily option at second. Jed Lowrie is likely going to be spending most of his time in the lineup at DH or 1B this year, but don’t be surprised to see him filling in at 2B now and then.

The Bad:

Pretty much everything else. Aside from starting pitching (ranked 24th! Woo!), the A’s are slated in the bottom five in every other category. It’s a teardown, so there’s no big surprise here, and it’s more heartening to have the A’s farm go from being considered near the bottom to now starting to climb up the rankings. Hopefully it will only be a couple seasons before the Athletics are back near the top of the board.

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