Oakland A's

With each Opening Day, you’re reminded of the clean slate. Anything is possible.

For the first time in a while, the Oakland A’s stand on the precipice filled with expectations. Manager Mark Kotsay even said he hopes for a .500 season after glancing at an impressive roster. That’s quite the boost from losing 112 games in 2023.

There’s no secret Zack Gelof has the makings of a superstar. The power Brent Rooker possesses is wrapped up in an All-Star uniform and a trip to Seattle in 2023. JP Sears’ consistency and health managed to give him 32 starts last year, and he plans on repeating such feats as the calendar months get ripped from the pages.

The narrative has changed in the Oakland clubhouse. There’s an electric energy swarming about with talks of “winning” being sung louder than it has been in a while.

Here are seven A’s players poised to have strong 2024 campaigns.

Ryan Noda

I’ve said it time and time again. This is the year of Ryan Noda.

He’s perhaps the best Rule 5 Draft pick for the A’s since Mark Canha in 2014.

The way the first baseman approaches his at-bats is like choreography. He can work the zone and he gets on base. A skillset that the team historically has loved.

Noda looks to bat leadoff because of that.

“I don’t think that the leadoff spot has to be a guy that has speed,” Kotsay said. “He’s definitely a guy you want to get on base as much as possible.”

Last season, Noda finished slashing .229/.364/.406.

… and the dude has a GLOVE.

Shea Langeliers

Catcher Shea Langeliers’ presence behind the plate never waivers. He calls on himself to have a “servant mentality” toward his pitchers and any one of the guys on the bump throwing to him can attest to that. Something he learned from veteran catcher-turned MLB manager Stephen Vogt.

His power at the plate is what needed to be shown. He hit 12 home runs in the last 45 games of the season, and it appeared to show his power continued into Cactus League play. Yes, I know — spring training numbers, but it looks like Langeliers’ expectations are catching up to him.

“I have pretty big expectations for Shea,” Sears told reporters Monday. “I think Shea last year was learning a lot while he was doing well at times, but still learned a lot. I think he’s going to come super prepared and really confident.”

Langeliers, who was brought over the the A’s in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for Matt Olson in 2022, earned an instant starter status from manager Mark Kotsay at the beginning of camp.

Kyle McCann will serve as his backup option.

Lawrence Butler

Perhaps the most electric and athletic player to watch in 2024 will be Lawrence Butler.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lawrence butler (@z4law)

Butler is a powerful hitter with a dynamic approach to the game and said the A’s will have a turnaround season.

“Lawrence is going to have a really good year,” Sears said. “He’s just — obviously it’s easy to say that with a good camp that he had, but it takes a lot to be — it’s a long season and he has a really good attitude every day. I think he works really hard. He’s got really good tools too to be a hitter in the big leagues. I just love watching him hit.”

Kotsay complimented Butler’s growth this spring.

The Atlanta native played in 42 games with Oakland last season. During his stint in the minors across Double and Triple-A, Butler boasted a .284 average with 15 homers and 104 hits.

Joe Boyle

A’s starting pitcher Paul Blackburn said it himself. “Who doesn’t like a 6’6″ righty who throws 100?”

Joe Boyle earned the fifth spot in the starting rotation after exceeding expectation in 2023 after coming to Oakland in the Sam Moll trade from the Cincinnati Reds.

The 24-year-old remained happy with the way he approached spring training and the build up he was doing and improving on what he worked on.

Last season, Boyle finished with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings.

JP Sears

Consistency and health worked in starting pitcher JP Sears’ favor last season. He got the 32 starts to prove that.

The Citadel grad was proud of that feat, but wants to build off of it.

“It’s in the past,” he said. “I still think I’m a better pitcher than last year. Not that I did poor, but I got a lot of things to improve on.”

One in particular being game management.

“There were some games that got a little of of hand in the middle of the game, thought I can do a little better job of just being a mature kind of pitcher … just do my best to get my team the chance to win.”

Sears finished 2023 with a 4.54 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings.

Darell Hernaiz

When it comes to confidence, it’s certainly something Darell Hernaiz doesn’t lack. He also doesn’t lack a work ethic. He arrived at camp early to get work in. Once he was told by A’s coach Eric Martins what he needed to work on defensively, he didn’t skip a beat.

When he was told he made the Opening Day roster, he couldn’t get the words out to tell his mom, Edna Gonzalez. Kotsay took the phone out of his hand and made sure to talk to her on his behalf.

“I just cried for a while,” Hernaiz said Monday. “Took a while to settle in and then just called everybody, all the family and friends and coaches and everything. Still on cloud nine right now.”

This was a dream he’s had since he was little.

Hernaiz finished his 2023 season across Double and Triple-A boasting a .321/.386/.386 line with 160 hits and 71 RBI in 498 at-bats.

JJ Bleday

Outfielder JJ Bleday worked hard this offseason to perfect his swing, working on his hands. He didn’t give himself much rest and quickly started working after the regular season had ended.

While his numbers didn’t show much this spring (and once again, I’m told time and time again, those don’t matter), he stood out to Kotsay.

“JJ Bleday was a that when we went into the offseason, we kind of talked to him about the work in the weight room and really pushing himself to a point that he hadn’t in the past,” Kotsay said. “Then he came back and has really changed some of those things that he does on a daily basis. And the work in the gym has really elevated.”

Bleday said his power didn’t change but his approach at the plate is more about timing and comfortability.

The former first-round pick is guaranteed to put on a show this season.

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.