Prior to 2012, the only baseball related thing that created buzz in Oakland was the blockbuster film, “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. That all changed in 2012 and 2013 when the Athletics became the darling underdogs of Major League Baseball, with only Justin Verlander in the way of them advancing to the ALCS both years.
In 2013 we saw unexpected players lead the Athletics in Fantasy (Josh Donaldson, Coco Crisp and Bartolo Colon), while those that we thought would be useful (Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick) turned out to be duds.
So what can we expect from the 2014 Oakland Athletics? Can we rely on a guy who’s had only one good, albeit a very good, season? What do we do with the Cuban home run champ?
Read on and let us take a closer look at the 2014 Oakland Athletics.
Projected 2014 Oakland Athletics “Go-To” Lineup:
- Coco Crisp, CF
- Josh Donaldson, 3B
- Jed Lowrie, SS
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF
- Brandon Moss, 1B
- Josh Reddick, RF
- Alberto Callaspo, 2B
- John Jaso, DH
- Derek Norris, C
- SP1 Jarrod Parker, RHP
- SP2 Scott Kazmir, LHP
- SP3 Sonny Gray, RHP
- SP4 Dan Straily, RHP
- SP5 A.J. Griffin, LHP
- Setup: Luke Gregerson
- Closer: Jim Johnson
Fantasy Stud: None.
Now to clarify this, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think anyone will be a solid pick. My definition of a Fantasy stud is someone who you can take in the top 3-4 rounds and feel confident about them producing for you on a daily basis. I do feel like Yoenis has a shot to return top-round production, but his value lies in him being drafted in the later rounds.
Breakout Candidate: Yoenis Cespedes
Cespedes struggled last season to build on his tremendous rookie year. His K% went up almost 5 points while his BB% fell by 1.6. That is probably being attributed to him not adjusting to the pitchers the way they did to him, which led to a having a very mediocre season. A mediocre season with a young player, however, brings experience and — for Fantasy players — value.
Cespedes has been working on shortening his swing a bit this offseason, and he’s now the 69th player coming off the boards according to NFBC ADPs. He’s still going to hit for power, and he has guys who get on base consistently ahead of him in the lineup. He’s also always a threat to steal a bag, so I think a 20-plus HR season with mid-teens stolen base potential is still there.
I don’t think that he’ll dominate the way he did his rookie season, I can almost guarantee that a significant improvement on his 2013 numbers is in the works, and for his draft spot, the 2013 home run champion will reward his owners quite nicely this upcoming season.
Sleeper Candidate: Sonny Gray
Gray is going to be a popular sleeper candidate this year, and it’s for good reason. Gray was solid in the regular season and then dominated in the postseason, posting a fantastic 9.42 K/9 in the majors and displayed decent control.
When you outduel Verlander in the postseason, it gets you noticed. He proved himself to be a big-time pitcher with many things going for him, including a spacious Oakland ballpark and terrific defense. He’s also a fairly low risk for getting hurt, though, he did get offseason wrist surgery on his glove hand, so I think all things said and done, he’s prime for a tremendous season. He’s currently ranked as No. 159 on the NFBC draft board, but you can definitely make a case for him going as early as Round 10.
Bust Candidate: Jed Lowrie
Lowrie finally played for a whole season in 2013, and what he did was incredibly impressive. He posted a .290-15-75 line with 80 runs scored and finished in the top 10 in both Head-to-Head and Rotisserie.
My biggest concern is still going to be his health. Prior to 2013, Lowrie could not find a way to stay on the field, never playing a full season in five years. He’s going to be 30 this season, so I’m not willing to use a pick on Lowrie since I’ll be forced to draft another SS later, as insurance. You’re going to lose if you bet on him having healthy seasons back-to-back.
Top Rookie: Addison Russell
Russell is a 20-year-old shortstop whose combination of defense and offense in the minors is something that can potentially make him a flier in deep leagues. Even though he was in a tough defensive environment playing in the hitter-friendly California League, he posted a fielding percentage of .968 at shortstop.
Offensively, he posted a .275/.377/.508 slash line, which showed impressive power. Combine that with his 21 steals in 110 games last year and you have a young hitter who is solid defensively that can provide power and speed. If he continues to perform at the higher levels in the minors, Russell is a name you’re going to want to keep an eye on.
What Should We Know?
The number 27. As in 27th in the league (out of 30 teams) in terms of Payroll. The Oakland Athletics have thrived in the past few seasons getting value out of players who are being paid very little.
With a youthful yet dominant pitching staff and one of the best bullpens in the MLB, the A’s have been able to put back-to-back successful seasons that have seen them get oh so close to the ALCS. When you consider that the A’s payroll (at $60 million) is $140 million less than the Yankees, $90 million less than the Tigers and $80 million less than the Red Sox, and yet are able to compete with the big boys? That’s a huge testament to the managerial talent of Bob Melvin and the roster that GM Billy Beane has put together.
With this limited payroll however, that means less of an impact in terms of Fantasy production. As long as the A’s have a limited payroll, they’re going to provide limited value in fake sports, but that is exactly why they were and still are the darlings of the MLB.
Kenny Wang is an editor and writer for Fakepigskin.com, which is expanding from a Fantasy Football website to a one-stop Fantasy shop. I grew up in the Bay Area and have been following Bay Area sports for my entire life. I’m privileged to have this opportunity to share my opinions with you.
2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep
|Strategy:Drafting Rds 9-16 | Drafting Rds 4-8 |Drafting the First 3 Rds | 7 Steps to Success | Positional Tiers | 30 for30 Draft Results|
|One-Man Mock Drafts: Mixed Roto (1/27) | Mixed H2H (2/4)|
|AL East: Baltimore | Boston | N.Y. Yankees | Tampa Bay | Toronto|
|AL Central: Chi White Sox | Cleveland | Detroit | Kansas City | Minnesota|
|AL West: Houston | L.A. Angels | Oakland | Seattle | Texas|
|NL East: Atlanta | Miami | N.Y. Mets | Philadelphia | Washington|
|NL Central: Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati | Milwaukee | Pittsburgh | St. Louis|
|NL West: Arizona | Colorado | L.A. Dodgers | San Diego | San Francisco|
|Prospects: Top 50 Prospects | Nick Castellanos | Javier Baez|
|Stat Deep-Dives: Expected RBI Totals from 2013|