PHOENIX -- Fantasy Baseball draft days are rapidly approaching. As an avid fantasy baseball player myself -- I'll usually play an average of five leagues per season -- I got to thinking about which A's players I would target as I discussed on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio.
Typically, it isn't wise to invest early round picks on A's players. The pitcher-friendly park and expansive foul territory in Oakland tends to stunt many of their key offensive player's stats. Their pitchers are often overlooked and can be valuable late round sleepers. This year could be a little different.
Yoenis Cespedes' freakishly strong skill-set makes him worthy of consideration in the first three rounds. He says he is stretching more in order to stay healthy. The A's have also implemented a yoga program. If he can stay on the field for more than 140 games he is a legitimate 30/30 candidate. The guy hit a homer in BP on Friday with a donut weight still on his bat.
The A's play a lot of close games, and as a result Grant Balfour will be a wise investment for saves. After regaining the closer's role on August 11, he was 17 for 17 in saves opportunities. The closer had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee but he appears to be ahead of the 4-6 week schedule to return. That would put him back on the field by opening day. He could be a steal as other owners might avoid him due to the minor knee procedure he had.
If you are in a holds league, both Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook will be of equal value. They could also get you some saves as they are the two best options behind Balfour.
In the past I have typically looked for a guy like Coco Crisp in the very late rounds. He is a source for stolen bases and won't completely hurt you in batting average and power numbers. He swiped 39 bags last season and hit 11 homers. Since joining the A's in 2010 he hasn't finished a season with less than 32 stolen bases.
Jarrod Parker will be the most fantasy friendly starting pitcher, but if you are light in the SP department later in your draft give Tommy Milone a look. Brett Anderson is probably the most talented pitcher on the staff. He can be snagged on the cheap because of his injury history. He is fully healthy now and could pay huge dividends.
Be Cautious with…
Josh Reddick is one of the most exciting players on the A's. He clubbed 32 home runs in a career year last season. Based on his gold glove recognition and popularity, he might get scooped up a little too early. He had a fantastic season last year, and there are no indications he won't do it again, but until he has more of a track record I'd buy cautiously.
Reddick says he is working on going opposite field more this season to avoid slumps, it could help his batting average and it might lead to a slight dip in his home runs.
Chris Young is leaving a hitter-friendly park in Arizona for the Oakland Coliseum. He has a pretty useful blend of speed and power, but the A's have a crowded outfield. He should see time at DH, though, and will likely be in the lineup regularly.
The A's are looking to platoon at catcher. Avoid catchers John Jaso and Derek Norris because they will be splitting time.
AL Only Leagues
Brandon Moss was a relatively unknown player entering 2012. He ended up hitting .291 with 21 homers in just 84 games. This guy's power is real. He has looked like a monster so far this spring and the A's traded away Chris Carter, so Moss should be getting daily starts at first.
Josh Donaldson is an intriguing AL-only option. You could snag him late in drafts and see what happens. Donaldson hit .290 with eight homers and 26 RBI in 47 games in the second half. Strong and confident, Donaldson could be a breakout player.
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