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2020 MLB Team Preview: Oakland Athletics

Greg Ehrenberg provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Athletics.

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July Update: One key player from the A’s to test positive for COVID is top prospect Jesus Luzardo. This brings into question if he will be available to start the season. Even if he is with the team on Opening Day, Luzardo could find himself in a relief role. This news hurts his chances of upside in yearly leagues. It is also notable how the the Athletics are planning to run their rotation during a condensed season. As one of the more analytically advanced teams in the league, reports suggest that Oakland is considering piggybacking starters and use multi-inning relievers more often. This info means it’s unlikely any of the Athletics’ starters will hold consistent fantasy value.

While it’s unlikely the Athletics are going to produce any fantasy superstars this season, this is a well-rounded team. The A’s are filled with depth and don’t have any glaring weaknesses. From hitting to defense to starting pitchers to relievers, all parts of this team look like it will be above average. As a result, Oakland is +325 to win the AL West, meaning the oddsmakers view them are more likely to win the division than the Los Angeles Angels despite their star power. Oakland is solid and should be in the playoff mix although I don’t think it has the ceiling to compete for a championship.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +325

— League Winner: +1300

— World Series: +2800

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Key Departures:

Homer Bailey, SP; Tanner Roark, SP; Jharel Cotton, SP; Blake Treinen, RP; Ryan Buchter, RP; Jurickson Profar, 2B; Josh Phegley, C

Key Acquisitions:

Tony Kemp, OF; Austin Allen, C

2020 Fantasy MVP

Matt Chapman, 3B

There are a number of players on this team that figure to be viable fantasy producers, but it’s hard to find one player that warrants a top pick and will carry a fantasy team. With that said, Chapman is the guy that I think has the most upside on this roster. We know he has power after hitting a career-best 36 homers last season, so know the question is if he will be able to maintain his power numbers and up his batting average. The uptick in power from last season looks like it came with a cost. Chapman’s batting average dropped to .249 from .278. His average coming all the way back it unlikely, but it should still bounce back. Chapman had a career-low .270 BABIP last season, a number that should see positive regression.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Ramon Laureano, OF

To be clear, I like Laureano and I think he should have a good season. He’s only 25 years old and has shown strong fantasy potential in his short time in the big leagues. The problem I have with him is where he’s going in drafts. Laureano currently has an ADP in the mid 70s and I don’t think he warrants getting selected that highly in drafts. He hit 24 homers last season and there is reason to think the power isn’t sustainable. Laureano never hit more than 15 homers in the minor leagues. He is also almost certain to see regression on batted balls since has a career .354 BABIP.

2020 Breakout Player

Jesus Luzardo, SP

Luzardo is a wild card this season. He has all the talent in the world and is arguable the best pitching prospect in baseball. The issue is that we don’t know what his role will be. The A’s might want to limit his innings and could end up spending time in the bullpen. In a best-case scenario, Luzardo could flash ace potential this season. During his time in the minor leagues, he rarely allowed runs to score and whiffed well over a hitter per inning. Luzardo’s upside makes him a viable target in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Final Thoughts:

Most likely, the A’s are going to end up being a wild card team, just as they were last season. A year ago, they won 97 games, which would probably surprise people. This wasn’t a team that got talked about much. I don’t think the Athletics have the same win percentage again this season, but this is a team that should win more games than it loses and competes for a playoff spot despite a lack of high-end talent.

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