2014 Kansas City Royals MLB Opening Day: Wild Card Preview

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Mar 4, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick (16) tosses his bat after disagreeing with a strike called by umpire Ted Barrett (65) in the fifth inning of their spring training baseball game at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports.

Oakland Athletics: 93-69

With the Rangers taking a beating in the opening months of the season, the Athletics look like a contender for division winner, but don’t be surprised if the Rangers come storming back and take the division, leaving the Athletics in competition for the wild card.

The A’s have a power-hitting lineup headlined by third baseman Josh Donaldson, outfielders Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes. They have good hitters made better by carefully designed platoon splits. Catchers John Jaso and Derek Norris form a particularly effective platoon.

They picked up Craig Gentry to help against lefties and provide an considerable defensive upgrade in the outfield when necessary.

Their rotation took a massive hit when it lost Jarrod Parker to Tommy John surgery. The rotation is still pretty good. Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin should be able to hold down the fort for one season, especially playing half their games in their pitcher friendly ballpark.

The front four of their bullpen are lights-out. Even though Ryan Cook is dinged up, Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle, and Luke Gregerson are all beasts.

If the team manages to avoid any more serious injuries, they’ll be in the playoff hunt come September.

The Kansas City Royals aren’t as good as a few teams on this list, but they’re definitely on the upper-end of the list, which means they only need a few things to break their way and they make the playoffs for the first time in 29 years.