New Oakland Era Begins

LawrenceButler08.17.23
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The “New Oakland” era begins in Oakland. Even though the Athletics (34-87) dropped two of three in their mid-week series against the St. Louis Cardinals (54-67), fans were happy to finally see the youth movement completely take shape. With the call up of Lawrence Butler, the average age of the Athletics starting lineup is 26 years old. The youngest in all of baseball. Yes, this has been the worst season in Oakland history, but the future is starting to take shape. With more reinforcements at Triple-A and Ryan Noda and Mason Miller both making rehab starts, there’s more optimism now with the A’s than there has been all season.

After being swept by the Washington Nationals over the weekend, the Athletics were able to salvage one game from the series with the Cardinals. Bringing their record on the six game road trip to 1-5. The young bats showed a lot of promise, but the bullpen has continued to be a struggle all season long. They return home for a six game home stand against the Baltimore Orioles for three and the Kansas City Royals for three.

Young Bats Explode

Although the pitching has struggled to stop teams from scoring, the offense has been exploding as of late. Young stars like Zack Gelof, Esteury Ruiz, and now Lawrence Butler have brought hope back into the fan base. Most teams around the league would love to have the ability to bring up so much talent every three to five years like the Athletics. Unfortunately for A’s fans, the ownership has yet to appreciate the talent they have.

Zack Gelof

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There is not enough positive I could say about the impact Zack Gelof has had on the Athletics fan base. He has quickly become a fan favorite in Oakland. And, he is off to possibly the fastest start in Oakland Athletics history. With his two four-hit performances on this road trip, he is the first player in Athletics history to have 20 extra base hits and 20 runs scored in his first 28 games. He leads all MLB hitters in extra base hits in the month of August with 11. His 157 wRC+ is highest among all rookies in baseball with at least 100 at-bats. His 1.3 fWAR in 27 games is higher than Carlos Correa (1.2). Safe to say he has been an incredibly positive asset to the organization.

Lawrence Butler

Lawrence Butler made his debut on August 11, and has quickly gained favor on the fan base. He hasn’t taken one bad swing in his six games on the major league club. Butler is a straight-up slugger, and when he makes contact, he hits the ball harder than anyone on the roster. He already ranks in the top 40% of the league in Exit Velocity, including a high of 111 MPH on his first home run in St. Louis in game-two of the series. With three extra base hits and three strike outs in 20 at bats, he has shown a mature eye at the plate and an ability to barrel any pitch thrown his way. His 23.5 Barrel% is miles ahead of the league average of 6%.

Esteury Ruiz

Esteury Ruiz is the most exciting player the Athletics have on their roster. One of the fastest players in the league, he ranks first overall in stolen bases in the American League and second in all of baseball. His 48 stolen bases are second to Ronald Acuña Jr. who has 55. He is also one of the most clutch players in the league. His 30-for-86 (.349) batting average with runners in scoring position ranks him eighth in the American League. Just as many rookies before him, he is working through some discipline issues at the plate. The next step in his evolution will be working on taking more pitches and walking more. The more he is on base, the more attention pitchers and catchers have to pay to him. The more pitches over the plate for the hitter behind him in the lineup.

Shea Langeliers

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The oldest and most experienced of the New Oakland movement is 25 year old catcher Shea Langeliers. Although Shea has yet to find his way at the plate, he plays an invaluable part of stability for the Athletics pitching staff. The Athletics starting rotation has been a revolving door all year as they attempt to find the right combination. So far they have used 13 different starting pitchers in 2023. One thing that has remained consistent has been the presence of Langeliers behind the plate. This brings a level of ease for the starting pitchers and they know they can trust Shea and that he is going to call the right pitches at the right time. His bat will come around, but it might take some time. On the year he is currently slashing .203/.269/.359.

Ryan Noda

Ryan Noda was the best performing player on the Athletics roster before his injury on July 20 with a broken jaw. There is a lot of excitement recently as Noda has begun a rehab assignment in Triple-A Las Vegas. He had a legitimate chance of winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award before his injury set him back. Noda is one of two players on the Athletics roster with at least 150 at-bats and a higher than 100 OPS+ at 129. He leads all rookies in on base percentage with a .375 clip. His 11 home runs and 38 RBI on the season still rank second on the roster behind Brent Rooker, even with his injury absence.

Tyler Soderstrom

Finally we have the Athletics #1 prospect Tyler Soderstrom who made his debut right after the All-Star break. Soderstrom has struggled to find consistency at the plate, but much of that can be attributed to not have an every day position. Rotating between positions can be tough for young players. Not feeling comfortable can be a terrible thing for a young player’s confidence. Tyler has made eight starts at first base, eight starts at DH, and eight starts at catcher. As the organization finds a permanent position for him, his consistency at the plate should improve. In 2023 Soderstrom is slashing .171/.250/.263. His 88.6 MPH average exit velocity shows when he makes contact, he is hitting the ball hard. Now it’s just about him making more consistent contact.

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