Oakland Athletics second half preview: Expect changes in bunches

By Ben Leonard

For the second straight year, the Oakland Athletics have just one All-Star participating in the festivities in Miami—first baseman Yonder Alonso.

Now, he hopes not to be part of what could be another firesale in Oakland.

“I feel like the guys here are hungry and they are very aware that I can do good things for this club,” Alonso said to the San Jose Mercury News. “It would be great to be a leader, not so much with my voice, but by setting an example, just going out every day and grinding with the guys and helping them get better.”

A former top prospect that failed to settle in with the San Diego Padres, Alonso has found his stride with the Athletics, setting career highs in home runs and wRC+ in just 79 games. Alonso had never hit double-digit homers in the big leagues, but already has 20 long balls this season.

Alonso is just one of many Athletics who could be moving on to new clubs this summer before the August 1st trade deadline, including starting pitcher Sonny Gray, relief pitcher Sean Doolittle and infielder Jed Lowrie, among others. Twenty-one games back of the first-place Astros in the AL West, Oakland hasn’t had a winning season since 2015 and has lost 237 games since—general manager Billy Beane is likely going to hit reset and try to build for the future.

That could open the door for younger players to see more playing time, including Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect and 21-year old second baseman who could fill Lowrie’s spot. Barreto struggled at the plate in his first taste of big league ball this summer, hitting just .190 in 46 at-bats, but did launch two home runs, including one in his debut June 24 against the White Sox.

Other young players have stepped up their game for Oakland this season, including second-year pitcher Sean Manaea, who has led the team with a 3.76 ERA after a rocky rookie campaign. Acquired from Kansas City in 2015 in a trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the Royals, Manaea has struck out just shy of a batter an inning this season, up from his 7.71 K/9 mark last season.

Ryon Healy has also continued his success from last season in his second year, clubbing 19 home runs before the break and posting a .804 OPS.

Cover Image: Oakland Athletics’ Yonder Alonso is greeted by Ryon Healy after hitting a solo home run o a pitch from Seattle Mariners’ Andrew Moore during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

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