David Shovein

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Team Roundup: Athletics

Thursday, October 12, 2017


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Oakland Athletics

2017 Record: 75-87

Fifth Place: AL West

Team ERA: 4.67 (23rd)

Team OPS: .755 (13th)



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What Went Right

In the year of the longball, Khris Davis posted career-bests with 43 homers and 110 RBI. Matt Olson only saw 60 sporadic plate appearances before being recalled for good on August 8. Once up, the 23-year-old put on a mighty impressive power display. He blasted 20 homers and drove in 36 runs over his final 41 games (156 plate appearances) before a left hamstring injury ended his season prematurely. Ryon Healy proved his strong finish to the 2016 season was no fluke, slashing .271/.302/.451 with 25 bombs and 78 RBI. Jed Lowrie set an A’s franchise-record with 49 doubles. Matt Joyce launched a career-best 25 homers and posted an .808 OPS. Yonder Alonso slashed .275/.372/.562 with 20 homers and 43 RBI in the first half, earning his first All-Star nod. Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle each returned to dominant setup arms, but were flipped to the Nationals at the trade deadline. Sonny Gray proved his healthy and returned to being a top of the rotation starter, and was subsequently dealt to the Yankees. Blake Treinen, one of the fruits of the deal with the Nationals, pitched well down the stretch and should have a leg up on the competition for the ninth inning heading into 2018.



What Went Wrong

As a whole, the season was pretty much a disaster for the Athletics. Jharel Cotton didn’t develop into the reliable starting pitcher that many had anticipated, compiling a 5.58 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in his 129 innings. Santiago Casilla wasn’t the answer in the ninth inning, blowing seven of his 23 save chances before losing his grip on the gig. Sean Manaea struggled to find consistency, issuing 55 walks in 158 ⅔ innings, leading to an elevated 1.40 WHIP. Steven Vogt slashed just .217/.287/.357 with four homers and 20 RBI in 54 games before getting designated for assignment in late June. While other top prospects around the league hit the ground running, Franklin Barreto proved he wasn’t ready for the spotlight of the big leagues just yet, slashing .197/.250/.352 with two homers, six RBI and a 33/5 K/BB ratio in his first 71 at-bats. The Athletics hardly ran at all as a club, totaling 57 stolen bases as a team (28th in MLB), with only Rajai Davis (26) and Marcus Semien (12) swiping more than four. The club’s overall competitiveness took a blow as Madson, Doolittle, Gray, Alonso, Rajai Davis and Adam Rosales were dealt away prior to the trade deadline and the club cut veterans Vogt, Trevor Plouffe and John Axford.



Fantasy Slants

** Just how real was the power outburst by Matt Olson in the second half of the season and what does it mean for his fantasy outlook going forward? The 23-year-old slugger has always had massive power potential, swatting as many as 37 homers in 138 games at High-A Stockton in 2014, but what he did with the A’s this summer blew that out of the water. While his absurd 41.4 HR/FB% isn’t likely to be sustainable, his hard contact % and average batted ball distance validate his ability. In a full-season, I expect that Olson should surpass 30 homers, though he does come with some batting average risk.


** Matt Chapman is another hard-hitting Athletics’ rookie who flashed his power stroke in 2017. Chapman took over as the club’s everyday third baseman around mid-season and should function in the same role in 2018. The 24-year-old clubbed 14 homers and drove in 40 runs while slashing .234/.313/.472 in 326 plate appearances. Like many A’s hitters, his power potential comes with batting average risk, but he should make for a nice power option available in the later rounds of fantasy drafts next spring.


** Blake Treinen began the 2017 season in the closer’s role for the Nationals. He ultimately failed in that capacity and was dealt to the A’s in the deadline deal that sent Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to Washington. Shortly thereafter, Treinen got a chance in the ninth inning in Oakland and actually performed well. The right-hander posted a 2.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 42/12 K/BB ratio over 38 innings with the Athletics while converting 13 saves. He should be the favorite to enter the 2018 season as the club’s closer and is likely to be overlooked in many fantasy drafts.


** Sean Manaea was expected to take the next step toward becoming a top of the rotation starter in 2017, building off an impressive 24 starts the prior year. He was a very popular fantasy commodity, being drafted as a top-50 starting pitcher. After his disappointing 2017 campaign, opinions around the industry vary wildly on what’s next for the 25-year-old hurler. Outside of one disaster against the Red Sox, Manaea pitched very well over his last seven starts. There’s still an awful lot to like here if he’s able to improve his command and limit the walks.


** Khris Davis remains the best bet for fantasy production in this lineup. The 29-year-old slugger had the finest season of his career, slashing .247/.336/.528 with career-bests of 43 homers, 91 runs scored and 110 RBI. He also chipped in four stolen bases. Davis has blossomed into one of the premiere power hitters in all of baseball and should be counted on to deliver another 40+ homers in 2018.



Key Free Agents: Jed Lowrie ($6 million club option)


Team Needs:

The Athletics are clearly in full rebuild mode, as evidenced by their trading away any and all big league assets prior to the trade deadline. It’s hard to envision them fielding a team that is going to compete for a playoff spot in 2018 without some major upgrades, especially to the starting rotation. As it currently stands, it looks as though they would field a  rotation of Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Sean Manaea, Daniel Gossett and Daniel Mengden. The A’s have plenty of intriguing young potential on the offensive side of the ledger and should club their fair share of home runs again in 2018, but don’t expect them to run much. If they opt to decline their option on Jed Lowrie, they may need to find a stopgap second baseman until Franklin Barreto is deemed ready to play everyday at the big league level.




Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
Email :David Shovein



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