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Offense could push A's over hump in 2018

Piscotty trade provides finishing touch to likely Opening Day lineup
MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- The A's are counting on their sluggers to lead the way in 2018, with plenty reason to believe they can build off a strong September that culminated in a 17-7 run.

Better days could be ahead for this club, largely because of an offense brimming with talent. A couple of prospective long-term core pieces -- corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson -- burst on the scene in 2017, providing the type of optimism that's been missing around these parts in recent years.

OAKLAND -- The A's are counting on their sluggers to lead the way in 2018, with plenty reason to believe they can build off a strong September that culminated in a 17-7 run.

Better days could be ahead for this club, largely because of an offense brimming with talent. A couple of prospective long-term core pieces -- corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson -- burst on the scene in 2017, providing the type of optimism that's been missing around these parts in recent years.

Video: Chapman responds to Olson's bat-theft allegation

The A's, attempting to piece together a future contender, added Stephen Piscotty to the mix in December via trade, seemingly putting the finishing touches on their 2018 lineup. MLB.com is taking a look at the projected lineup of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the A's might stack up:

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Joyce, LF
Jed Lowrie, 2B
Khris Davis, DH
Matt Olson, 1B
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Bruce Maxwell, C
Dustin Fowler, CF

STRENGTH
The A's have no shortage of sluggers, employing a power-hitting trio that could become one of the best in the game. Davis, Olson and Chapman will be asked to the supply the homers, and they're surrounded by several complementary pieces: Joyce bopped 25 homers last season, Semien compiled 27 the year before when healthy, and Piscotty also has potential to hang around the 20-homer club.

Video: OAK@PHI: Joyce hammers a two-run shot to right-center

QUESTION MARK
Oakland hitters lived and died by the long ball last year, a formula that proved unsustainable. This young A's club can't solely rely on power, meaning it needs to use different avenues to get on base more and maintain consistency in 2018. This group also lacked speed last year, and the addition of Fowler -- equipped with above-average speed -- will only help the A's marginally improve in this area.

Video: NYY@ATL: Fowler drives in two with double to right

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The A's lineup appears set as Spring Training looms, but the team still must wait to learn Maxwell's fate. The A's hold out hope that their primary catcher will agree to a plea deal following his October arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct, but a trial -- tentatively scheduled for April -- would keep him away from the club.

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

Oakland Athletics