|Fantasy Take: The 2006 Oakland Athletics||| Print |||Send|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 19, 2006
This young team is a very chic pick to win the World Series. If they’re expected to do something that great, then they’ve got to have some serious talent on their team. Let’s take a look at how that translates into fantasy numbers.
The Top Tier
3B Eric Chavez – Eric Chavez is as good of a player as Scott Rolen, only Chavvy isn’t coming off of major shoulder surgery. Don’t forget about this guy on draft day; I say this because he has been slipping in a few drafts I have been in. The only category he doesn’t contribute in is stolen bases, but that’s all right. Oh, he’s also one of the best second half hitters in baseball, so he’ll carry you to a fantasy title down the stretch, if you can afford to stomach his first half stats.
SP Rich Harden – Texas Rangers’ manager Buck Showalter said that Harden had the best stuff in the American League. That’s very high praise. Harden injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder last season, which made him miss two months, but he’s healthy and ready for an entire season. Expect top tier numbers from this future star, something like twenty wins, 2.80 ERA, and some beautiful strikeout numbers.
The Second Tier
1B Dan Johnson – The first baseman has shown power at every level in the minor leagues, but took so long to get his chance in the Major Leagues. Now is his time. The A’s are giving Johnson the everyday job, and he has the talent to hit 25-30 homers with enough numbers along with it to be a very fine player. Just remember that first base in the American League is a very deep position, so he’s supposed to be toward the bottom of this category.
OF Mark Kotsay – Back troubles limited this gifted outfielder to only 139 games, but many people know he is capable of a .290/15/80 year with lots of run scored and a few stolen bases. The Cal State Fullerton product has a chance to do a lot of good things next year, and don’t you forget it.
CL Huston Street – Fairly recently removed from the University of Texas, this former Aggie won the American League Rookie of the Year Award last year. Among his accolades were 23 much-needed saves, a 1.72 ERA, and nearly a strikeout per inning. The team desperately needed him after losing Octavio Dotel to Tommy John surgery. He remains one of the best closers for the immediate future and long-term range.
SP Barry Zito – He’s only the ace of the A’s in age. This free-spirited lefty found his groove last season and is playing for a new contract, so expect some great things from this former Cy Young Award winner for an entire season. Seventeen wins and 190 K’s are entirely possible, but don’t expect too low of an ERA.
The Third Tier
RP Justin Duchscherer – He picked up a few saves last season and currently stands second in line for that honor this year. This means he doesn’t have much value in roto leagues. However, in head to head leagues, Duchscherer pitches enough innings and strikes out enough opposing hitters, nearly one per inning, that he does have value. Don’t spend too much on him, and grab a guy like Scot Shields before Duchscherer.
C Jason Kendall – As you’re probably aware, Jason Kendall didn’t go yard last season, at all. However, this catcher can contribute in three different categories, when compared to other backstops: batting average, stolen bases, and runs scored. He’s not too valuable on the whole in fantasy baseball, but among his catching colleagues, he’s worthy.
OF Milton Bradley – This outfielder has near-unlimited potential, but his anger issues make it difficult for him to harness it. Going to a ballclub like the Oakland A’s should soothe his problems away, but with a guy like Bradley, you can never be certain. The second question is whether or not he’s going to stay healthy. Injuries problems have cropped up to cut short some of his recent seasons.
SS Bobby Crosby – Crosby came through the A’s farm system with a lot of hype, and when he arrived on the Big League scene, he caused quite a stir. In fact, the A’s shortstop won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. If he can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, then he can hit for power, average, score runs, and drive in runs. He covers every category you need, minus stolen bases. If you were looking for those, then you picked the wrong team.
2B Mark Ellis – I don’t know where Billy Beane finds these guys, but Ellis sprang out of nowhere to put up some very good numbers. Last season, he put up .316/13/52 with 76 runs in 434 ABs. The only category he doesn’t help you out in is stolen bases, but you should be happy enough with his contributions in those four areas to draft him and start him. The only question is, Is he for real? Last year represented a tremendous increase in his previous Major League numbers.
OF Jay Payton – Traded to the A’s mid-season last year, Payton put up some fine numbers, including 13 homers in only 275 ABs. We can’t expect that pace to continue, but we should expect some fine backup-player type numbers from him. His playing time will diminish with other guys around him, so don’t expect too much from him this coming year, unless he does something this spring to make you think differently. He may complain of playing time this year and talk himself right out of Oakland, too.
OF Nick Swisher – This youngster will see a lot of his playing time lost to Jay Payton/Milton Bradley/Bobby Kielty in the outfield, Dan Johnson at first, and Frank Thomas as a DH. If he gets into games -- Ken Macha is going to have a difficult time getting everyone in -- then Swisher should have no difficulty putting up .250/25/85 over a full season. That’s if he gets into games.
DH Frank Thomas – One of the stipulations for the A’s signing Thomas was that his ankle needed to be healthy and ready to withstand the rigors of a 162-game season. It’s safe to assume it passes the standards for the A’s medical staff, but should you be worried? The injury sounded pretty gruesome, but draft Thomas thinking he’ll be fully healthy and ready to hit. In limited time last year, the Big Hurt proved the power was still in his bat.