2020 Fantasy Baseball: Oakland Athletics Team Preview

Full fantasy baseball stat projections for Oakland's hitters and pitchers. What to expect from Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Jesus Luzardo and more.
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Oakland Athletics

While most teams in Major League Baseball underachieve potential upside, Oakland continues to get it done despite a lower-tier salary base ($84 million in 2019 – 25th). The A’s won 97 games in back-to-back seasons, but they bowed out of the playoffs in the American League Wild Card game each year. Over the past 21 seasons, Oakland made the postseason 10 times with no World Series appearances. In the team’s 119-year history, the A’s have nine World Series titles. They won five championships in Philadelphia (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, and 1930) and four others in Oakland (1972, 1973, 1974, and 1989) while making the playoffs in 28 different seasons.

They finished sixth in the majors in ERA (3.97) with 45 saves last year. The A’s moved to eighth in runs scored (845), fifth in home runs (257), and ninth in RBI (800).

Oakland added a pair of bench players (C Austin Allen and 2B Tony Kemp) via trades with the Padres and the Cubs. The only pitcher added to the roster was RP T.J. McFarland. The A’s moved on from 2B Jurickson Profar.

In 2020, Oakland looks poised to ride two hotshot lefty arms (Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk) to the postseason. Their starting rotation has serviceable depth, and the A’s tend to get the most out of their farm system on the pitching side. A full season from Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea add more depth and strength to the rotation.

Last year Liam Hendriks emerged as the next version of Blake Treinen, but Oakland looks to be short of elite arms in the bullpen heading into Spring Training.

Their offense is built on power while adding more length if C Sean Murphy and 2B Franklin Barreto develop as expected.

The A’s will be in the hunt for a playoff berth again this year while having an uphill battle to catch the Astros to win the division title.

Starting Lineup

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1. SS Marcus Semien

Semien ended up being a steal for fantasy owners in 2019. He set career-highs in games (162), at-bats (657), runs (123), doubles (43), home runs (33), and RBI (92) while having the best approach of his career (strikeout rate – 13.7 and walk rate – 11.7) by a wide margin. His spike in power came from a higher AVH (1.834), but he flashed the same skill set in 2016 when Semien hit 27 home runs over 568 at-bats (AVH – 1.830). Despite a higher batting average, his CTBA (.337) only improved slightly from 2018 (.321). 

He struggled in May (.204 with three HRs and nine RBI over 108 at-bats) while shining over the final four months of the year (.297 with 87 runs, 26 HRs, and 67 RBI over 427 at-bats). Semien improved against lefties (.309 with seven HRs and 22 RBI over 178 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (37.8) was about league average (209th), while his swing path remained balanced. He set a career-high in his HR/FB rate (15.3 – 11.3 in his career). 

The shortstop position has plenty of depth and different skill sets in 2020. Semien has an ADP of 94 as the 13th shortstop drafted. His final stats in 2019 ranked 20th in SIscore (5.36). Not overpriced at all, but I can’t trust everything will go as smoothly as far as playing time and injuries this year. I see his floor at about 90 runs, 25 home runs, 75 RBI, and double-digit steals with 550 at-bats. If Semien repeats his approach, he looks poised for a follow-through season.

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2. OF Ramon Laureano

Laureano had a quiet start to the year in April and May (.259 with six HRs and 18 RBI over 205 at-bats). He helped push fantasy teams up in the standings over the next two months (.314 with 37 runs, 15 HRs, 40 RBI, and eight SBs over 175 at-bats). A right shin injury led to six weeks on the injured list. When Laureano returned in September, he hit .315 with three home runs and nine RBI over 54 at-bats. His CTBA (.402) was just over his 2018 levels in the minors (.415) and the majors (.425) with growth in his AVH (1.808). 

Laureano didn’t have a great approach at the plate (strikeout rate – 25.6 and walk rate – 5.6). Over five seasons in the minors, he hit .271 with 45 home runs, 199 RBI, and 100 steals over 1,466 at-bats. His bat improved in 2019 at AAA (.297 with 44 runs, 14 HRs, 35 RBI, and 11 SBs over 246 at-bats). His strikeout rate (23.7) was lower in the minors with a much better walk rate (10.0). Laureano had an improved HR/FB rate (19.2) with a higher fly-ball rate (39.2). His success last year projected over a full season would come to 100 runs, 30 home runs, 85 RBI, and 16 steals. 

He has an ADP of 79 in the early draft season as the 21st outfielder drafted. In today’s fantasy environment, finding players with 20/20 skill sets is getting tougher. Laureano may get a chance to bat second if he finds his minor league approach. Potential 30/30 player, but I would draft him with the idea of a 20/20 floor with neutral value in the other three categories (.275 with 80 runs and 80 RBI).

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3. 3B Matt Chapman

Last year the A’s hit Chapman second or third in the batting order for almost all of his at-bats, but he only came to the plate with 361 runners on base. I find this somewhat surprising when looking at the success of Marcus Semien (187 hits and 87 walks = 274 times on base minus his 33 home runs). Chapman continues to have an elite AVH (2.034) with an improving approach (strikeout rate – 21.9 and walk rate – 10.9). His CTBA (.333) took a big step back from 2018 (.379). 

Last year he lost his value in batting average after the All-Star break (.222 with 15 HRs, 39 RBI, and 42 RVI over 243 at-bats). Chapman hit for power (11 HRs and 25 RBI over 154 at-bats) against left-handed pitching, but his batting average came in short (.234 – .288 in 2018). His hard-hit rate (48.7) ranked 21st with 210 balls reaching 95 MPH or more (8th). His HR/FB rate (19.0) still hasn’t caught up to his minor league resume, but he did add more loft in 2019 (fly-ball rate - 43.1 – 39.3 in 2018). With an ADP of 87, a fantasy owner can expect over 100 runs and RBI with 40-plus home runs. His batting average may surprise, but his swing path will lead to some easy outs in the outfield.

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4. 1B Matt Olson

A broken hamate bone in his right wrist late In March led to Olson missing five weeks of the season. He had a rebound in power thanks to a better ratio of doubles to home runs (33:29 in 2018 and 26:36 in 2019) along with an uptick in his AVH (2.039). His approach (strikeout rate – 25.2 and walk rate – 9.3) remains behind his minor league career (23.9 and 14.8). 

Olson played well over the final four months (.276 with 59 runs, 29 HRs, and 79 RBI over 395 at-bats). His batting average came up short in May (.229) and against lefties (.223). Over 880 at-bats in his career versus right-handed pitching, he hit .264 with 70 home runs and 165 RBI. Olson had the ninth highest hard-hit rate (50.3) in baseball with a high fly-ball rate (44.6) and HR/FB rate (23.7). Surprisingly, his ADP (65) ranks fourth at the first base position. I don’t see him scoring over 100 runs with no value in speed. His batting average can only be league average at best based on his swing path and approach. I could see 45-plus home runs with 110-plus RBI.

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5. OF Khris Davis

Davis gave the A’s three straight seasons of productive power (.247 with 133 HRs and 335 RBI). Last year his bat was on track in April (10 HRs and 23 RBI over 119 at-bats) despite a low batting average (.218). After a ten-day stint on the injured list in late May with a hip issue, Davis only had 11 home runs and 44 RBI over his final 323 at-bats. He battled a left-hand injury as well in late June. 

After the All-Star break, Davis hit .200 with seven home runs and 30 RBI over 205 at-bats. His strikeout rate (27.4) and walk rate (8.8) fell in line with his major league resume. Davis finished 156th in hard-hit rate (40.2) compared to 28th in 2018 (47.8), 3rd in 2017 (51.9), and 14th in 2016 (48.0). His swing path was much weaker in his fly-ball rate (37.4 – 48.8 in 2018 and 41.5 in his career), while also seeing a regression in his HR/FB rate (18.3). Both his AVH (1.755) and CTBA (.316) came in much lower than his recent path. 

Possible rebound in power, but his batting average doesn’t have a pulse. Davis had an ADP of 173 while ranking 14th in SIscore (6.20) in 2018 (192nd in 2019). It’s all about team structure here – .240 hitter with an 80/30/80 floor.

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READ MORE: 2020 Oakland Athletics Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

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SP1 Jesus Luzardo

Luzardo pitched at almost every level in the minors over the previous three seasons. In 2018, he started the year at High A and finished the year at AAA. Luzardo didn’t have any problem with AA (7-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 86 Ks over 78.2 innings). His stuff lost value at AAA (13 runs, 32 baserunners, and two HRs over 16 innings), but he did flash his upside over seven starts at AAA in 2019 (3.19 ERA and 34 Ks over 31 innings). 

Luzardo started last year on the injured list with a strained rotator cuff in his left shoulder. His first appearance in the minors came on June 11th. After throwing the ball well for five games (2.79 ERA and 25 Ks over 19.1 innings), he landed back on the IL for a month with a left lat strain. Luzardo had one bad outing in his final six games in the minors (2.28 ERA and 32 Ks over 23.1 innings) before seeing 12 innings of action with the A’s (1.50 ERA and 16 Ks over 12 innings). His AFB (97.2) was elite, and he saw success with all of his pitches (four-seam – .182 BAA, sinker – .077 BAA, changeup – .100 BAA, and curveball – .111 BAA). 

He projects to be a ground ball pitcher with a favorable fly-ball rate. Shaping up to be a great arm, and Oakland will ride him hard earlier in his career based on their team model. His early ADP is 137, which will rise with each bit of positive news in March. Possible double-digit wins with a sub 3.00 ERA and 175 strikeouts with 150 innings pitched. Right kind of gamble even with his injury risk.

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SP2 Sean Manaea

Manaea suffered a left shoulder injury in August of 2018, which led to surgery a few weeks later. His minor league debut didn’t come until July 8th. After struggling in three of his first four games (9.95 ERA, 1.895 WHIP, and four HRs over 12.2 innings), he looked sharp in three starts at AAA (1.53 ERA and 28 Ks over 17.2 innings). The A’s called him up to the majors on September 1st, which led to a great month (4-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 30 Ks over 29.2 innings). 

His walk rate (2.1) came in strong with a career-high in his strikeout rate (9.1). Manaea has lost velocity on his fastball (90.2) and changeup (81.4), but all of his pitches graded as assets (four-seam – .191 BAA, slider – .192 BAA, and changeup – .125 BAA). Overall, he has a small sample size of elite stats. Over four years in the majors, Manaea has a 35-28 record with a 3.77 ERA and 402 strikeouts over 493.2 innings while never pitching over 161 innings. I expect growth and some follow-through in 2020. Next step: 15 wins with a 3.50 ERA and a career-high in strikeouts. His ADP (173) is in a buying range for me with the idea of him helping me control my WHIP.

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CL/RP Liam Hendricks

In a way, Hendriks was the 2.0 version of Blake Treinen in 2019. After a good start to the year in April (2.08 ERA and 18 Ks over 17.1 innings), his arm made a push for the 9th inning over the next six weeks (1.08 ERA and 32 Ks over 25 innings). The A’s handed him the closing job on June 22nd, and Hendriks shifted into overdrive. 

Over his final 42.2 innings, he walked only four batters with 74 strikeouts, which led to a 2.11 ERA and 25 saves in 31 chances. Hendriks did look to have risk over a four-game stretch late in July (four runs and nine baserunners over 3.2 innings) when he blew three saves. Most of his failure came against left-handed batters (.257 with four home runs over 152 at-bats). His AFB (96.8) was a career-high while offering two explosive secondary pitches (curveball – .037 and slider – .114 BAA). Hendriks has a 3.22 ERA and 295 strikeouts over his 237.2 innings with Oakland. 

This season he’ll be drafted as a lockdown closer with an ADP of 103. One only needs to look back at Treinen’s season in 2018 (9-2 with 0.78 ERA, 100 Ks, and 38 SVs over 80.1 innings) to see the variance of a high leverage arm without a long history of closing. Trend carefully while keeping an open mind with his insurance. Hendriks looks the upside part, but I can’t get away from staring at his ERA in 2016 (3.76), 2017 (4.22) and 2018 (4.13). I’ll sit this dance out. 

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Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Oakland Athletics Team Outlook

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