Fantasy Preview 2016: Which Oakland Athletics Should You Keep And Draft This Year?
Spring Training is here, meaning Opening Day is less than a month away! This also means that the fantasy draft is right around the corner for you die-hard fantasy players. Let’s explore the A’s roster and find some top-level talent worth keeping and drafting. This will be broken up in tiers: Keepers, Draft in Middle Rounds, Late Round Sleepers, and Waiver Wire Surprises. MLB.com‘s suggested dollar fantasy values (based on $260 budget) are also included in parentheses.
Tier 1: MUST keep, or draft in early rounds: Sonny Gray ($19)
Duh. The second runner-up in the Cy Young race, and the only reason stuck-up fans outside of the AL West with East Coast Bias would even think of the A’s. Are you in need of wins (14), strikeouts (169), WHIP (1.08), ERA (2.73), or innings pitched (208)? That’s Sonny Gray. Any questions? Didn’t think so. Gray is an easy ace of a pick by the 6th round.
Tier 2: Draft in middle rounds: Billy Burns ($8)
Burns’ rookie year was good enough for 5th in Rookie of the Year voting, as he hit nearly .300 (.294) and stole 26 bases. This was in merely 125 games, so, with a larger sample size, many fantasy owners are bullish on him to be the premier leadoff hitter he has shown he can be. A switch-hitter, Burns hit righties with a .285 batting average, but killed lefties at a .315 clip. Draft him by the 11th round.
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Talk about underrated. For an outfield that can in total easily slam 40-50 homers and steal equally as many bases, the A’s outfield is woefully undervalued. Nevertheless, it is likely that manager Bob Melvin will occasionally play the handedness game with Reddick and Davis. These two did play a little worse against left handers all year. That explains why the latter two are valued so lowly.
However, Reddick did play in 149 games and re-emerged as an everyday player thanks to his glove, so count on him as a solid late middle round outfield option with power potential. Davis missed 41 games in 2015 due to a knee injury inflicted in May in which he required surgery. He is on the rebound as he played every day essentially after his return in July, hitting 22 of his 27 homers after he came back. With the move from hitter friendly Miller Park to the Coliseum, Davis’s high power expectations may be lessened. You may want to consider drafting Reddick and Davis within a round or two from each other in the late middle rounds.
Stephen Vogt was one of the best catchers in the league before the All-Star break last year. We all believed in him. He definitely deserved his All-Star selection with an OPS of .867 and 14 homers in the 86 games prior to 2015’s Midsummer Classic. Injury caught up to him in September, taking him away for two weeks, but with an offseason of rest and with a hungry Josh Phegley right behind him in the depth charts, Vogt is looking to have a good season. He is ranked 8th among catchers in average draft position, according to FantasyPros.
Sean Doolittle, on the other hand, is a closer that many fantasy players seem to have forgotten about. A’s aficionados won’t soon forget the year he had in 2014, taking over from deposed closer Jim Johnson and receiving an All-Star selection. He finished that year with 22 saves and a minuscule 0.734 WHIP. His shoulder injury destroyed his season last year, but he did score four saves upon his return. Still, there are many closers ahead of him in average draft position, so you may be able to safely wait till the 20th round to draft him unless you are in a relief-heavy league.
With the left side of the infield expected to have great depth this year in fantasy leagues, Danny Valencia and Marcus Semien may go undrafted in many leagues. Yet, these guys are looking to provide 15-20 HR seasons. Valencia has hit .267 in his career but last year’s bat was as high as .290/.345/.519(!) with 18 homers. As for Semien, the A’s have shown they have faith in him despite his countless errors last year, and they believe Ron Washington has made him into the new “Pickin’ Machine” of 2016. His hitting in the beginning of the year was surprisingly solid, and he hit as high as .314 in the middle of May. He will play every day for the A’s this year as he did last year, so he’s worth a slot at shortstop if you miss drafting Carlos Correa or Troy Tulowitzki or use the middle rounds for other picks.
Henderson Alvarez has crazily high potential, as in 2014 he had a 2.65 ERA and 12 wins for a terrible Miami Marlins team. But, because of Tommy John surgery, he will not come back to the Oakland Athletics until May at the earliest. He has just started throwing off of a mound during Spring Training, but he has a no-hitter under his belt. Again, he may go undrafted just because of his injury situation.
When will you draft Sonny Gray? Which of the other A’s starters or position players are worth a shot in the waiver wire? Let us know in the comments below!