Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Oakland Athletics
Projected Starting Lineup
C Stephen Vogt—Vogt is what I consider to be a safe pick. He will get about 450+ at bats (he is the A’s main C vs. RHP), and he can be expected to hit about 12-16 HR and 55-70 RBIs. He’s probably not a player I am considering until nine or ten other catchers are off the board.
1B Yonder Alonso—Just because Alonso is starting in real baseball doesn’t mean you should be starting him in Fantasy Baseball. He will play mostly against RHP and is nothing more than a weak CI in AL-only leagues.
2B Jed Lowrie—It’s only a matter of time until Franklin Barreto gets called up from the minor leagues and when he does, Lowrie will be out of a job. If and when that happens, look for Lowrie to either remain on the team as a utility guy or end up being traded elsewhere.
SS Marcus Semien—Semien is a terrific offensive player except for his batting average. If he could just hit .280, his draft stock would go up about five or six rounds because he offers a nice combination of both power and speed. Semien is also a bit risky defensively. If the team decides to play minor league phenom Barreto at SS, then Semien will be forced to move to second base. More than likely, I assume Barreto will go to second base, leaving Semien at SS.
3B Trevor Plouffe—Plouffe is a one year stopgap at best until minor league sensation, Matt Chapman joins the team. Plouffe is a bit streaky at times, but he is also capable of hitting 20+ HR when he is hot. The A’s will keep Plouffe in their lineup so long as he continues to hit. However, if Chapman gets hot early on and Plouffe starts out cold, there is a good chance Plouffe might see way more bench time after June 1.
OF Matt Joyce—Joyce does one thing well—hit RHP. He is pretty much useless against LHP, and if you draft him, you should do so more in daily moves leagues where you can shuttle him in and out of your lineup depending on the matchups.
OF Khris Davis—Davis has 40 HR power and might be the only “sure thing” in the A’s lineup. Don’t expect much in speed or average from him but he is a perfect OF3 for any Fantasy team if you have the batting average and runs scored categories covered.
OF Rajai Davis—Signing Davis is the epitome of what the A’s try to accomplish as a small market club. Here’s the recipe Find an older veteran player who still has a decent skill set (i.e. Davis’ speed). Give him a reasonable contract but nothing trade prohibitive. Let him play as much as possible in the first half of the season to showcase him as a trade commodity. Trade him come the All-Star break to contending team for a solid Double-A player. I give a 10% chance that Davis finishes the year with the A’s.
DH Ryon Healy—Healy is a good hitter without a true position. Plouffe will cover third base until Chapman is ready. Alonso is the first baseman vs. RHP. This leaves Healy as the 1B vs. LHP, the DH vs. RHP, and the occasional 3B when Plouffe needs a day off. Those things should allow Healy to get 500 at bats which should lead him to a season of 20/80.
SP Sean Manaea—After getting off to a slightly rocky start in 2016, Manaea picked it up in the second half of last season. To wit, his ERA on July 5th was 5.85, and by the end of the season, it was 3.86. If he can continue to show this type of improvement he might end up as one of the top 20 pitchers in the AL this season.
SP Sonny Gray—Not only was Gray an abomination last season, any small chance of him starting the new year off well was decimated after the team said that they were going to shut him down for three weeks with a lat strain. There is zero chance I draft him this season.
SP Kendall Graveman—I try to avoid drafting soft tossing pitchers on bad teams. I highly recommend you do the same.
SP Jharel Cotton—Am I picking Cotton this season? There is a pretty good chance that I am. One number that I loved seeing from Cotton last season was his .82 WHIP. His K/BB rate was 23/4. That number is terrific for any pitcher and goes to show that he has excellent control on the mound. If he can reduce his home runs allowed (which is possible in the A’s cavernous home stadium), Cotton should have a successful 2017.
SP Andrew Triggs—Triggs seems to be an industry expert sleeper pick this season. I am willing to throw a buck or to at him at the end of my auction, but to expect anything more than that seems to be wishful thinking.
RP Sean Doolittle—Just last year Fantasy owners were thinking that Doolittle, and not Madson, was going to be the A’s closer. Sadly, shoulder issues crippled his season and helped him lose the closer’s job. I will take a shot on Doolittle in AL-only league only if holds are a category.
Closer Ryan Madson—I have zero faith in Madson and would probably take him as one of the last five “true closers” in a draft. He is old, injury prone, and there is too much depth behind him to feel good about selecting him this year.