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What's going wrong for the Oakland Athletics?

With a move to Las Vegas on the horizon, it’s been a tumultuous start to the 2023 season for the Oakland Athletics organization.

Threatening the wrong kind of records

It’s not a great time to be an Oakland Athletics' fan. 

The A's were once a solid organization with a proud fanbase in the Bay Area, but they have since fallen on hard times. 

Oakland’s last postseason appearance was in 2020, where the A’s were defeated by the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series following the COVID-shortened season. 

Since that point, the A’s have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons while continuing to set records for low attendance marks at the Oakland Coliseum. 

The state of the team has hit a new low in 2023, with the A’s comfortably sitting with the worst record in baseball at 10-43 through the first third of the season. 

The .189 win percentage is horrific, and the home record is a clear problem. 

Oakland is just 5-21 in front of its home fans, including a 1-9 stretch over its last 10 games. The A’s are on pace for just 29 wins on the year, which would be the worst mark since the last round of expansion across Major League Baseball. 

Not since the 2003 Detroit Tigers have we seen a team that is playing this poorly over the course of the first two months of the season. 

The A’s have already amassed a run differential of -187, which is a whopping 112 runs worse than the second-lowest mark in baseball from the Kansas City Royals

Over the course of a full season, the A’s are expected to outpace the worst run differential mark since the turn of the 21st century, putting them in company with some of the worst baseball teams in league history.

How did we get here?

The A’s organization has been dysfunctional for a while now, and it dates back decades to the team trying to secure a new ballpark. 

The team plays in the Oakland Coliseum, which is far from an ideal baseball stadium. 

Considered one of the worst stadiums in which to watch a game across the league for some time, the Oakland Coliseum used to house the Raiders during their time in the Bay Area. 

It has long-been considered a football stadium first and a baseball park second, which is part of why it’s so unappealing to take in an A’s home game. 

The off-field financial issues that Oakland has experienced for decades didn’t always impact the poor product on the field, but it didn’t stop the organization from being competitive in the past. 

The A’s are most known for the Moneyball story under GM Billy Beane, as the organization made light of its poor financial situation to field winning teams during the 2000s and early 2010s. 

That is no longer the case with Oakland trading away a number of former star players (Matt Chapman, Sean Murphy and Matt Olson) but failing to get a good return on the quality that left. 

With the prospects received in those trades having not panned out or simply not being ready to play in the Major Leagues at this time, Oakland is simply devoid of MLB-level talent on its roster. 

Injuries have also hurt the state of the team, and it’s no surprise to see that Oakland’s lineup is at or near the bottom of the league in runs per game, SLG and OPS. 

On the other side, the A’s rotation is unsurprisingly at the bottom of the MLB in ERA per game and Earned Runs Allowed per game. 

It’s simply a disaster on all fronts.

Relocating to Las Vegas

With the franchise in obvious decline, management has been trying to move out of Oakland for years now. 

With the A's lease in Oakland expiring after the 2024 season, it was perhaps inevitable that the team was moved in hope of a fresh start. 

On April 20, the A’s ownership signed an agreement to purchase 49 acres of land near the Las Vegas strip with the intention of building a stadium that seats at least 30,000 and that has a partially retractable roof. 

A’s ownership intends to have the stadium complete ahead of the 2027 season, so it’s entirely possible that the team will have to play the 2025 and 2026 seasons in the minor league park that currently houses the Triple-A Aviators. 

If anything, the unknown status of the A’s 2025 home stadium is a perfect illustration of the dysfunction and sad state that the organization is in at the moment.

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