The Athletics had hoped to be calling themselves the San Jose Athletics by this point, but the move, if it ever happens, doesn’t appear to be imminent. Still, the winners of the 2012 AL West won’t get a lot of respect in a division that features both the Angels and Rangers. While the team may look flawed in areas, they have plenty of players who’ll do the job both on the field and in terms of fantasy ball. Don’t be surprised if they are in the mix come September. Here are 10 to watch in 2013.
Brett Anderson (SP): The team ace, Anderson leads off the column because he was FINALLY supposed to be healthy once again, but he managed to strain his back last week during Spring Training and it’s hard to know just when he’ll really be back or back to normal. He’s certainly been an injury risk his entire career, no reason to think that will change now. When healthy he contributes everything he can, even if his strikeout rates keep him from being an elite pitcher.
Yoenis Cespedes (OF): Um, aren’t pitchers supposed to write the book on a player and figure out how to get him out with regularity after they’ve seen him a few times? Hasn’t yet happened to Cespedes and there really is no reason to think that it’s going to happen suddenly this season. If he’s really just going to be 27 this upcoming season there may be some upside left in the tank. If not hard to sneer at the .292-70-23-82-16 he put up last season in fewer than 500 ABs. This year he’ll get more ABs than that.
Josh Reddick (OF): Draft him for power, hope for .250 and that he still has some growth left in his skill set. The baseline is probably 20-25 home runs, anything else, including steals, is icing. Of course if he maintains his absurdly high fly ball rate more is possible.
Brandon Moss (1B): Moss hit 30 home runs in 2012 and is a prime regression candidate after never having hit more than 17 in a season prior to this. That said, a repeat isn’t impossible although the batting average is likely to take a hit (way out of line with his career numbers, especially against lefties).
Josh Donaldson (3B): A bit of a sleeper, Donaldson is one of those guys you should definitely be keeping an eye on. His second half numbers .257-45-12-42-5 show what he could do with an everyday role. He’s entering his prime and still has upside, all the statistics are pointing towards growth. That said he’s not a top-15 choice at third, but a solid mid-round gamble.
Jed Lowrie (SS/3B): Lowrie is the favorite to man the hot corner for the 2013 season. He’s been an injury magnet, which clearly limits his value, but he has the tools to contribute middle teens power while maintaining a respectable average. As as good OBP player he should be cast as a tablesetter for the A’s big hitters and consequently be a nice source of runs.
Jarrod Parker (SP): Coming off a remarkable rookie year, Parker slots in as the No. 2 pitcher on the A’s staff although he may well grow into the best one of the bunch. Don’t expect elite production, but a sub-4.00 ERA and respectable WHIP are still very much in sight. There is upside here, but he’s only 24 and will have some bumps in the road..
Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS): The 30-year-old Japanese import probably won’t have an inspiring debut and should be far from any ROY conversations. He offers very modest power, a touch of speed, but could hit for reasonable average. 10-10 is probably the most upside you could hope for and I’d bet against him reaching it.
Coco Crisp (OF): Steals and runs are Crisp’s value categories -- especially steals as he netted 39 of them last year. If he hadn’t missed so much time to injury, 50 would have been a real possibility. However he’s at an age when speed naturally declines, sometimes rapidly. Still if he can avoid some of the weird injuries from last year he should continue to remain productive.
Grant Balfour (Cl): By no means a lockdown type closer, Balfour goes into the season with the job his for now. Playing in the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum should help him overcome some of the intrinsic lapse he’s shown in the past. He’s probably got a moderate leash, but setup man Ryan Cook looks like the closer of the future.