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After frustrating first half, A's focus on future

MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- The A's, hoping to perhaps surprise in the first half, instead rode into the All-Star break with more losses than any other American League club.

Oakland's 39-50 record puts the club on pace for 71 wins, which would represent its third consecutive losing season following a string of three straight postseason appearances. A contending club may not be in play for several more years, as the A's continue to groom a heap of prospects, but they still find reason to remain optimistic.

OAKLAND -- The A's, hoping to perhaps surprise in the first half, instead rode into the All-Star break with more losses than any other American League club.

Oakland's 39-50 record puts the club on pace for 71 wins, which would represent its third consecutive losing season following a string of three straight postseason appearances. A contending club may not be in play for several more years, as the A's continue to groom a heap of prospects, but they still find reason to remain optimistic.

:: 2017 Midterm Report: Complete coverage ::

"We've got a good group of guys," catcher Bruce Maxwell said. "We have an opportunity to have these guys get their feet wet and develop a strong, poised approach when it comes to the game up here. These young guys figuring themselves out gives them time to develop a strong and consistent mindset so … they'll be a little more experienced at the end of the season."

Before the second half begins, here's a look back at what transpired in the first portion of the 2017 campaign:

What went right
Oakland hits a lot of home runs, getting double-digit totals from three players: Khris Davis (24), Yonder Alonso (20) and Ryon Healy (19). The power surge sometimes masked its inability to score runs in other ways, however. Elsewhere, young players showed signs of promise, offering a glimpse into a better future for these A's.

Video: CWS@OAK: Alonso drills two homers vs. White Sox

What went wrong 
The list is long, beginning with injuries -- notably to the rotation. Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman made just eight starts because of shoulder issues, and Sonny Gray (lat) didn't make his first start until May. Shortstop Marcus Semien (right wrist surgery) was also lost to injury early on. In addition, the offense proved inconsistent, and the defense was atrocious. It was a recipe for disaster, evident in Oakland's record.

What we learned
The A's are only getting younger. Subpar play in the first half, combined with an array of injuries, has Oakland eyeing the future. Consequently, the A's are moving full speed ahead with a youth movement that's already in motion. Already, several of their top prospects -- including Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto -- have been promoted, and Oakland will continue to prioritize playing time for them.

Video: Must C Clutch: Barreto belts walk-off homer in 9th

First half top player
Alonso was awarded for his first-half production with his first career All-Star selection. Though the first baseman's numbers have dipped of late, they remain impressive nonetheless. Alonso has already set a career high with 20 home runs (his previous mark was nine in 2012 with San Diego), while improving upon his career on-base percentage (.339) by 33 points (.372).

First half top pitcher
Lefty Sean Manaea quietly shined when healthy, leading the staff with seven wins and a 3.76 ERA in 16 starts. Minus a stint on the disabled list for a shoulder strain that spilled into a third week, Manaea was a steady force in the A's rotation in the first half, building upon an impressive rookie campaign. The southpaw continues to make strides with each start, harnessing his command and going deeper in games.

Video: OAK@TB: Manaea fans five over seven sharp innings

First half top rookie
Chad Pinder succumbed to a hamstring injury at the end of June, but he was unquestionably Oakland's top rookie performer in the first half following his April promotion. Pinder needed just 47 games to hit nine home runs and collect 25 RBIs. The versatile infielder also added right field to his repertoire, playing the position with ease.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics