2016 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2016 Fantasy Baseball: Oakland Athletics Team Preview

2015 Season in Review

The Oakland Athletics went from playoff representatives in 2014 (88-74) to last place in the West in 2015 (68-94). Their record was last in the American League and only better than two other teams (Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves) in the National League. It was their lowest win rate since 1997. The departure of Josh Donaldson (Toronto Blue Jays), Jeff Samardzija (Chicago White Sox) and Yoenis Cespedes (Detroit Tigers and New York Mets) took its toll on the team and left a gaping hole in the power department.

Once the season became a wash, Oakland didn’t waste any time shipping off Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, and Tyler Clippard, but this opened a hole for some lesser-known players to shine and prove their worth.

2016 projected lineup

Billy Burns, CF
Jed Lowrie, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Danny Valencia, 3B
Stephen Vogt, C
Billy Butler, DH
Yonder Alonso, 1B
Marcus Semien, SS
Coco Crisp, LF
Bench: Mark Canha, 1B/OF
Bench: Josh Phegley, C

There is not much power in Oakland. Josh Reddick, who led the team in home runs (20) and RBI (77), was seventh among the regulars in strikeouts (65) and third in walks (49). Reddick finished with a .272 batting average (143-for-582).

Catcher Stephen Vogt was second in home runs (18) and second in RBI (71) but had far too many strikeouts with 97 to 56 walks. He ended up hitting .261 (116-for-445). He had a split season; the first half was much better than the second. He went from a .287/14/.872 OPS to a .217/4/.630 OPS, and some think Vogt is more like his second part of the season than the first.

Outfielder Billy Burns is probably the best of the bunch for fantasy baseball. He is the speedster on the team. Burns was able to swipe 26 bases and was caught only eight times. He also led the Athletics in batting average (.294), runs (70), hits (153), and triples (9). What he won’t do is supply the power.

One of the better outlooks is Danny Valencia, who joined the A’s in August of last year from Toronto. Valencia has played on five different teams since coming up in 2010, but it now looks like he has found a home. He played in 105 games and had 345 plate appearances last season. He finished tied with Vogt in home runs (18) but had 100 hits and batted .289. The problem area was his strikeouts (80) to walks (29). He also fits right in the A’s mold as he got on base .356 percent of the time.

If your league doesn’t account for errors, you have to like the potential of shortstop Marcus Semien, who tallied 35 errors last season. He also didn’t hit on a consistent basis as he finished with 143-for-556 with a .257 batting average. Semien is only 25 years old, and that was his first season in the majors. It comes down to how much faith you have on him building on his 65 runs, 15 home runs, 45 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. He should fit into your shortstop backup plans in mix leagues.

2016 projected rotation

1. Sonny Gray, RHP
2. Rich Hill, LHP
3. Jesse Hahn, RHP
4. Kendall Graveman, RHP
5. Chris Bassitt, RHP
Alt: Sean Nolin, LHP
DL: Henderson Alvarez, RHP

Sonny Gray will be the ace of the A’s as he was last season. The 26-year-old hurler posted a 2.73 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 169/59 K/BB ratio over 208 innings in 2015. He is a top 20 starting pitcher in almost any league. Gray is a ground ball pitcher in the vein of Dallas Keuchel and has proven to hold players on base. His past two seasons have seen him win 28 games and lose just 17. He won’t reach the 200 strikeout level, but he will be around the 175-185 mark.

Rich Hill is someone to pay attention to. According to CBS Fantasy Baseball, “Only seven starting pitchers recorded double-digit strikeouts in back-to-back-to-back starts last year. Hill was one of them, and he made four starts total.” In those four starts, he won two games, with 36 strikeouts, and a 1.55 ERA to go with a 0.65 WHIP. Hill has been in the league 11 years now and is 36 years old. The issue has been health and ineffectiveness which may have had to do with a bad elbow ligament. He is a sleeper that could wake up your entire roster.

2016 projected bullpen

  1. Sean Doolittle, LHP
    2. Ryan Madson, RHP
    3. Liam Hendriks, RHP
    4. John Axford, RHP
    5. Fernando Rodriguez, RHP

Sean Doolittle expressed that he is no longer battling shoulder issues and can pitch without restriction per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. He hit the disabled list twice last season, losing three-quarters of the year because of the shoulder. Oakland brought in John Axford and Ryan Madson to solidify the closer role if needed. Doolittle is lights out when healthy and should be considered a backup closer in mix leagues.

Oakland Athletics Prospects

Franklin Barreto began his amateur career in Venezuela before being drafted by the Blue Jays. He was part of the trade that sent Josh Donaldson over to Toronto. He has impressive power as he led the Northwest League in several offensive categories in 2014. Barreto has a compact swing and quick hands which allow him to make consistently hard contact. He has more home-run power than most middle infielders and is a plus runner. He will remind many Oakland A’s fans of Miguel Tejada. More than likely Oakland will have to wait a few years for his arrival.

Matt Olson has the power that is representative of a true first baseman. He finished third in the Minor Leagues with 37 home runs in 2014. He is a very disciplined hitter, and his 117 walks led the Minors last year. He needs to work on his strikeout rate, as he swung and missed 135 times in each of his first two full professional seasons. He could be a dual positional player as he has been in the outfield and first base.

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