Athletics: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview

Sep 16, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Brett Eibner (39) celebrates his three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers defeat the A's 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

AL East: BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR

NL East: ATL, NYM, PHI, MIA, WAS

AL Central: KC, CWS, DET, CLE, MIN

NL Central: STL, PIT, CHC, MIL, CIN

AL West: SEA, LAA, TEX

The Oakland Athletics made some moves this offseason, but not enough to warrant much attention. There are limited fantasy stars on this team.

The Oakland Athletics have struggled over the last two seasons. After finishing either first or second from 2012 to 2014, the A’s have over 90 losses in back-to-back seasons. With the moves they made or lack thereof, I can see them going down the same path in 2017.

The team traded Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline. Danny Valencia is with the Seattle Mariners and Josh Reddick joined division rival Houston Astros.

Oakland did sign a couple of new bats, but they are older players that may not amount to much for fantasy owners. The team had six batters hit more than 10 home runs.

Two of them are no longer on the team. One of them will not repeat their 42-home run, 102-RBI performance. Two more barely made it over 10, so there isn’t much value here.

They didn’t reload the rotation, so it’ll be the same five pitchers we saw last season. And, looking at their numbers, that isn’t a good thing. Granted, there are some starters that will be worth drafting as a No. 5 option or flier, but nothing to get excited for.

The bullpen is filled with talent which makes it hard to separate the closer and the set-up men in my rankings. I will talk about the bullpen later, but this may be a group of relievers you may want to avoid as well.

Oakland Coliseum ranked in the bottom half among the three major hitting categories. You would think it would lead to better performance out of their pitchers, but they pitch on the road, too.

Surprisingly, I have nine Oakland players in my top 300. Only one of them is inside my top 100, but only by one spot.

Aug 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches against the Chicago Cubs in the fifth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY

Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY

The Oakland starting rotation did not perform well last season. The best pitcher, based on ratio stats, was Hill and he only made 14 starts with the team.

The rotation is set to be Sonny Gray, Sean Manaea, Kendall Graveman, Andrew Triggs and Jharel Cotton.

Gray is my No. 45 starting pitcher. I know he had a bad season last year, but my ranking is based on what he can do when healthy. In 2015, Gray had a 2.73 ERA, 1.082 WHIP, and 14-7 record. While he will be participating in the World Baseball Classic, I don’t think it will affect him long-term.

Manaea comes in at No. 55. In 25 games (24 starts), he had a 3.86 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, and 7-9 record. He also posted a 7.7 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. Manaea’s ERA and FIP were relatively close, so I don’t expect any regression in his ratio stats.

Looking deeper, Cotton is someone to keep an eye on. He posted great numbers in the final month of the season. I want to see how he performs in the spring, but he is a deep sleeper. My colleague Brad Kelly lists him as one of his breakout stars for this season.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics

Ryan Madson is listed at Oakland’s closer. He posted 30 saves with a 3.62 ERA and 1.284 WHIP. He had just 6.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The below average ratio stats drop his value a bit.

While the 30 saves would be nice, you can’t risk hurting your ratio stats. He is my No. 24 relief pitcher with room to move in either direction.

The Athletics have many other pieces in the bullpen they can turn to. Ryan Dull pitched well in 70 games. He had a 2.42 ERA, 0.874 WHIP, and 8.8 K/9. He will be someone to target in deeper leagues or as a potential closer in the second half.

The team also has Sean Doolittle and recently signed Santiago Casilla. They are both listed as set-up men, but I think Casilla will be used in the middle instead of the later innings. Doolittle will have value in holds leagues as long as he stays consistent. He also had four saves, so he could be used in the ninth if needed.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners

The Athletics have interesting pieces in their bullpen, including their new third baseman. Yet, only three of the five rank in my top 300. Those three rank outside the top 10 in their respective positions.

Stephen Vogt hit well as the A’s catcher. He hit 14 home runs, 56 RBI, and .251. Because of the low average and limited power, I don’t recommend him as your starting catcher. He holds some value in two-catcher leagues.

Jed Lowrie will field second base. That’s all I got.

Trevor Plouffe signed with Oakland to be their third baseman. I wrote about the impact here. His value will depend on how healthy he is. He made three different trips to the DL last season. I would have preferred Ryon Healy in the role instead.

Marcus Semien had his breakout power season, but it came at the expense of his batting average. He hit 27 homers, 75 RBI, and .238 in 159 games. Semien also stole 10 bases. He is my No. 17 shortstop. If he can keep the power and raise his average, he could move into the top 15.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox

The Oakland outfield has the most potential. Khris Davis’ bat exploded, Rajai Davis still has legs, and Matt Joyce had a .403 on-base percentage.

Kelly questioned if owners should chase Davis’ power here. I don’t think he’ll hit 42 homers again, but keeping the total around 30 will keep him relevant. Davis is my No. 29 outfielder. If you think you’re going to miss him, don’t reach for him. He struck out 166 times.

The other Davis stole 43 bases in 49 attempts. He also hit 12 home runs and .249 with Cleveland last season. Because he is just a one-category player, Davis drops in my rankings. He is my No. 55 outfielder.

Joyce will help your OBP, but not much else. He isn’t worth drafting outside of AL-only leagues. Even in deeper leagues, there are plenty of other outfielders worth drafting ahead of him. His 12 home runs may help in a head-to-head matchup every once in a while.

The Athletics DH is Healy now that he’s out of the third base position. He hit .305 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI. Healy only played in 72 games, so I’m interested to see what he can do for a full season.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics have some fantasy-relevant pieces. They will be draftable either in the later round in standard leagues or AL-only leagues.

The starting pitching options are limited. The bullpen has four different pitchers that could close at some point. The offense features some power hitters and a couple of speed guys that could tilt the edge in a matchup.

There’s just no one I would be excited to own.