After winning back-to-back AL West Championships, you would think on the Oakland A’s there would be at least one fantasy superstar in the lineup. However, this group is not centered on one bat, but on numerous pieces that when put together equal more than the sum of its parts. While this is a noble approach to building an MLB winner, the same cannot be said with regard to building a winning fantasy baseball team. You need big producers to win. With that in mind, I have sorted the nine projected starting Oakland hitters into three categories based on where you should rank them on fantasy baseball's draft day.
Draft Worthy Oakland Hitters
Donaldson is a top-5 3B, and he proved it in 2013. In his first full season, he hit .301 with 24 HR, 89 R, 93 RBI and an OPS of .883. Those are solid numbers for the 28-year-old, and should be looked at highly for the 2014 fantasy season. However, I would be hesitant to fall in love with him after just one year of production. While I have them ranked lower, it would not be horrible to wait a few rounds for maybe Pedro Alvarez or Pablo Sandoval. At the least, if you do draft Donaldson, perhaps you should have a guy on your bench you that wouldn’t mind playing over Donaldson if he drops out this year
If nothing else, Coco Crisp is worth drafting purely for his speed. While he isn’t a stud on any level, the fact that SB count for a full point in classic leagues means you need at least one speedster on your team. While he is entering his age-34 season, his 93 R and 21 SB from last year made him a top-tier speed guy. Along with this, he added a career-high 21 HR and second-most 66 RBI. I would not bank on the power numbers being what they were, but he should still be valued high enough to be on fantasy teams in 2014.
Yoenis Cespedes is a bit of a fantasy question mark heading into 2014. Looking at his two season, his stats are pretty close (R: 70/74, HR: 23/26, RBI: 82/80, SB: 16/7.) The one difference is the batting averages, where he dropped from .290 to .252. Take that info for what its worth, and I would not be against drafting him myself in the middle of the pack. Proceed with caution.
Jed Lowrie is somebody that I can't help but get behind for 2014 and beyond. When doing my rankings, it actually surprised me that Lowrie made it in my Top 10 (FYI, "Draft Worthy" is based on a 10-team format). In 2013 he was given a full-time starting role, and he excelled in 154 games with 80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI and a .290 BA. In what was only his first full season as an everyday starter, owners might be deterred from The Jedi Master (a nickname I gave him after watching him in Boston hit a walkoff single to drive in Jason Bay, the first game after acquiring Bay for Manny Ramirez) and towards more proven players. However, take into consideration the benefits of batting second in this lineup-- the ability to drive in Crisp before him, and an increase in runs scored with the power bats behind him.
Waiver Worthy Oakland Hitters
Brandon Moss is a top-20 1B, which is probably not going to be draft worthy in shallower leagues. He could very easily be a nice matchup guy, though. In what was his first full season in the big leagues since 2009, Moss hit .256 with 73 R, 30 HR and 87 RBI. Not bad numbers, and he never went through a major rough patch this past season, so you can at least expect consistency with the average stats. He will also be listed in most leagues as OF-eligible, so that could add to his waiver appeal.
Josh Reddick is a guy I really want to believe in after his career year in 2012, but after this past season, I really am having a hard time with this. I get that he would have an off year because of the nagging wrist issues, but I cannot trust him after only one solid year two seasons ago. A .226 BA, 54 R, 12 HR and 56 RBI in 114 games is not what he or his fantasy owners wanted from him. After a month or so of DH’ing, he might be worth a look if production picks up.
Not Fantasy Worthy
It’s pretty simple. Unless you are in a deep league or really stuck during the season with injuries, don’t bother looking at the bottom third of this lineup.
That’s it for now. I’ll be back at it next time looking at the A’s starting rotation. Until then, follow me on Twitter @JustBerglund