MLB Team News & Rumors: Oakland

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Oakland Athletics


Our expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Oakland Athletics Team Projection

The A's made it to the playoffs for the 2nd straight season in 2013, but they failed to make it to the World Series for the 9th time in their last 9 playoff appearances. Oakland continues to have success, despite one of the lowest payrolls in the majors (26th - $68,577,000). Their success over the last 2 years has been driven by a top pitching staff. Last season, the A's finished 2nd in the AL in ERA (3.56), but their pitchers lacked K ability (1183 - 7.3 per game - 12th in the AL). Oakland allowed the least amount of walks (428) in the American league. Their starting lineup looks the same as it did at the end of 2013. They traded for OF Craig Gentry to add speed to the bench, while also signing Nick Punto for infield depth. The A's let Grant Balfour go to free agency, replacing him with CL Jim Johnson. P Scott Kazmir was also added to the starting rotation. In addition, Oakland traded OF Seth Smith to San Diego for RP Luke Gregerson. They also made a minor deal with Houston to acquire Fernando Abad to add another lefty to the bullpen, and traded upside starting pitcher Brett Anderson to Colorado for P Drew Pomeranz. Their only other losses were OF Chris Young and C Kurt Suzuki. Their offense doesn't look elite, but this same core finished 3rd in the AL in runs and 3rd in HR's. Oakland is more of a station ball club as they only stole 74 bases in 2013 (11th in AL). The A's have done a nice job building the back of their bullpen, and they have plenty of major league ready starting pitching depth. The key for their success in 2014 will be their ability to score runs. This team just finds a way to win and I expect them to be in the heat of the battle in a tough AL West.

1. OF Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp fantasy baseball

Crisp is a nice major league ball player. He isn't elite, but he does many things well to help the A's and fantasy players win. Last year, Coco hit the most HR's (22) of his career, which led to the most runs (93) of his career. His speed has declined over the last 2 seasons after setting a career high in SB's (49) in 2011. His K rate (11.1%) was the 2nd lowest of his career, while his walk rate (10.5%) was his strongest for a full season. He has been an above average run producer over the last 2 seasons (17% RBI rate in 2012 and 16% in 2013), but his RBI totals have been short to due short chances. Crisp is a player that does get nicked up, which makes him tough to manage at times. Coco has missed 299 games over the last 5 seasons and has never played in 150 games in a season during his career. Last year, he had growth against RH pitching (.290 with a .505 SLG %), but he did struggle against lefties (.218). Crisp missed time in 2013 due to a hamstring, heel, back, wrist, and shin injuries. The hamstring injury forced him on the DL for 2 weeks and it hurt his speed when he returned in mid May. Coco had 8 steals in April and only 12 more over the last 4.5 months of the season. Crisp is a slight negative in batting average with 15 HR upside and 30 stolen base ability. He has played some of his best ball after the age of 30. Solid speed option with some power, but he has plenty of injury risk.


2. SS Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie fantasy baseball

Lowrie set career highs in just about every category (except HR's) in 2013. He fell 1 HR shy of his career mark. Jed played in over 150 games for the 1st time in his career. His K rate (13.8%) was much better than his previous 2 seasons, but his walk rate (7.6%) did fall below his career average (9.2%). Lowrie hit 14 of his 15 HR's off of RH pitching, but he handled himself well against lefties (.305). His success was similar over the first half of the season (.295 with 7 HR's and 37 RBI in 342 at bats) and the 2nd half of the year (.284 with 8 HR's and 38 RBI in 261 at bats), but his walk rate regressed badly after the All Star break (9.3% 1st half - 5.0% in 2nd half). Last year, Lowrie hit the lowest amount of fly balls (43.2%) of his career, which probably led to his bump in batting average and his rise in doubles (45). His HR/FB rate (6.8%) took a step backwards from 2012 (11.3%). Lowrie will give a fantasy player mid range power at short. He has no speed and his batting average will most likely fall in the neutral range. His high double totals suggest maybe a step forward to 20 HR's in 2014.


3. OF Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes fantasy baseball

For the 2nd straight season, Yoenis missed time due to multiple injuries. He suffered a thumb injury in April, which cost him 14 games. He had a slight hamstring injury in June, a slight wrist injury in July, and a shoulder injury in September. His approach at the plate regressed in 2013 as his K rate (23.8%) spiked upward and his walk rate (6.5%) regressed. His final results were in line with his 2012 season, with the exception of a huge decline in batting average and a weaker success rate stealing bases. Cespedes held his own against lefties (.280 with 11 HR's in 161 at bats), but he regressed against righties (.223 - 24.6% K rate). He had a jump in his FB rate (45.6%), but his HR/FB rate (14.4%) declined slightly. It looks like pitchers have the most success against him with sliders. Last year, Yoenis struck out 35 times in 121 plate appearance against the slider with 6 HR's. Cespedes has a 30/100 skill set if he could ever stay healthy for a full season. His batting average has risk if he is going to have a swing for the fences type of approach at the plate. I would consider his speed a bonus at this point of his career.


4. OF Josh Reddick

Josh Reddick fantasy baseball

After a breakthrough season in 2012, Reddick floundered through last season. His lack of success was due to a right wrist injury that he suffered on April 7th. The injury lingered all season, which led to surgery in October. As bad as it looks, he did lower his K rate (19.5%) and he took a few more walks (10.4% - career high). Josh had decent power against lefties (6 HR's in 125 at bats), but he only hit .200. His success driving the ball against LH pitching should lead to full time at bats. Last year, he had a slight bump in power in August (5 HR's) and his batting average had a spark in September (.304). Reddick is a FB hitter (47.1%). A fantasy player needs to right off the lost 2013 season. Reddick may not hit 30+ HR's this season, but he has enough power to be a solid 20/80 hitter with neutral upside in batting average (plus he can chip in with some speed). Wrist injuries are tough, so his power may fall short of expectations in 2014. If he is hitting the ball well in the spring, he may hit in between Cespedes and Donaldson. I expect a solid bounce back year.


5. 3B Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson fantasy baseball

Donaldson was an impact backend player in drafts last season. He had his best season ever in any season of baseball. His K rate (16.5%) made a nice step forward, as did his walk rate (11.4%). Josh crushed LH pitching (.335 with 11 HR's in 176 at bats - .631 SLG %), and also hit very well against righties (.285). Most of his damage was done over the first half of the year (.310 with 16 HR's and 61 RBI). Donaldson was a career .275 hitter in the minors with 81 HR's and 370 RBI in 1998 at bats. His resume supports his approach at the plate, but his batting average in 2014 won't repeat. Donaldson has done a nice job as a run producer during his short career (17%), which gives him a solid chance to bat in the middle of the batting order this year. Based on the current roster, he may be the best option to bat clean up, but the A's will most likely stagger their hitters. He has 20+ HR power and is willing to hit the ball to right field, which will keep his batting average at least neutral. Josh will even throw in a handful of steals.


6. 1B Brandon Moss

Brandon Moss fantasy baseball

Moss had full time at bats in April where he hit .295 with 4 HR's and 19 RBI, but he ended up only being a platoon player against RH pitching over the last 5 months of the year. Brandon only hit .200 against lefties with a monster K rate (43.2%). After the All Star break, Moss hit .296 with 14 HR's and 43 RBI in 179 at bats. For the year, his K rate (27.7%) remained poor, but it was lower than his 2012 season. His walk rate (9.9%) was a career high. Brandon had a career high FB rate (51.5), but his HR/FB rate (18.8%) regressed from 2012 (25.9%). Moss only hit .206 against a four seam fastball with 11 HR's in 126 at bats. Moss has no chance of getting full time at bats. His approach at the plate will lead to batting average risk. Overall, he has no chance of repeating his 2013 success. Moss has 20 HR power with 70 RBI potential. Don't pay full price for his 30 HR's.


7. DH Nate Freiman

Nate Freiman fantasy baseball

He will be the righty platoon with Brandon Moss this year. Last year, he hit .304 against LH pitching with 4 HR's and 22 RBI in 148 at bats. Freiman was a career .294 hitter with 71 HR's and 368 RBI in 1876 at bats in the minors. He held his own in the majors in 2013 after never playing at AAA in his career. His K rate (14.9%) was above the league average, but his walk rate (6.7%) was short. He has enough upside where he could push his way into more at bats at 1B or DH. Nate may have 20 HR/80 RBI upside with full time at bats.


8. C Derek Norris

Derek Norris fantasy baseball

Norris could be an interesting backend catcher if he can improve against RH pitching. Last year, he only hit .149 against righties with no HR's and 5 RBI in 114 at bats. Derek was very good against LH pitching (.320 with 9 HR's and 25 HR's in 150 at bats). In 2013, he never had more than 73 at bats in any month. His K rate (23.1%) improved from 2012 (28.5%) and he did a very good job taking walks (12.0%). Norris was a career .253 hitter in the minors with 80 HR's and 274 RBI in 1651 at bats. Derek has a decent approach at the plate, but his lack of success against righties makes it tough to project a huge bump in at bats when the A's have two solid left hand hitting catching options (John Jaso and Stephen Vogt) on the roster. Norris has upside power with some underlying speed for a catcher, but his lack of at bats limits his upside.


9. 2B Alberto Callaspo

Alberto Callaspo fantasy baseball

Callaspo hasn't done anything special in his 2922 career major league at bats. He has been one of the tougher players to strikeout (8.7% K rate - 13.9% in 2013 {career high}) in his career. His walk rate (10.6 ) has also been solid over the last 4 years. Alberto has more pop from the right side of the plate (10 HR's with 38 RBI in 283 at bats in 2012 and 2013). This year, he may get 550 at bats and will have more value as a second baseman. His approach at the plate gives him some upside in batting average and he may in surprise with 15 HR power. However, Callaspo has no real value in speed. His skill set is tough to own in the fantasy market in the middle infield, but he may have value to some teams with the right team structure.


10. OF Craig Gentry

Craig Gentry fantasy baseball

Gentry is pretty much a Judy hitter (all speed with no power). He was acquired in the offseason for outfield depth. However, his ability to play outfield will allow the A's to play Crisp and Cespedes at DH to help keep them healthy. Craig's K rate (16.0%) is a bit high for his skill set, but he did have some growth taking walks (10.1%) in 2013. Gentry has been a slightly better hitter against LH pitching (.288 - .271 vs. righties) during his career. Craig was a career .283 hitter in the minors with 21 HR's and 145 SB's in 1922 at bats. He has 50 SB upside if he ever had 550 at bats. This year, he'll be a part time player off the bench with maybe some short term upside in speed if Oakland had an injury in the outfield.


11. C John Jaso

He should get the majority of at bats at catcher against RH pitching. Last year, he lost his power stroke (3 HR's in 207 at bats), but he hit .282 against righties with a solid approach at the plate (37 walks and 36 K's). Jaso had his season cut short in July due to a concussion. He has 10 HR upside with enough at bats.


12. MI Nick Punto

He will be the backup infielder in 2014. He has no power with limited speed.


13. 2B Eric Sogard

Oakland gave him 368 at bats last year, but he proved he wasn't an option to be an everyday player. Last year, he hit .266 with 2 HR's and 10 SB's. He'll compete with Punto for at bats as a backup infielder.


14. OF Daric Barton

He has struggled to make an impact during his 7-year major league career. He is a .250 hitter in the majors with only 30 HR's in 1687 at bats. Last year, he hit .297 at AAA with 7 HR's and 69 RBI. He'll compete for a back up job with Oakland.