The little team that I always forget about until the regular season is over and ask myself “wait — the Athletics made the playoffs?!” This team is filled with exciting fantasy hitters at their top of the lineup who will provide solid fantasy production to your team. Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano both should go 20/20 with great run totals (80-90) and decent RBI totals (65-75.) Then they’ve got the three burly sluggers in Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Khris Davis who could all flirt with 40 HRs and 100 RBI.  They’ve also got three starting pitchers with sexy names who could break out in a big way this year in Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo and Frankie Montas — but everyone is drafting them as such. And at the end of the game they have Liam Hendriks, he of a career 4.72 career ERA before 2019, who came out of nowhere to close out 25 saves with a 1.80 ERA and 13.1 K/9. These guys have postseason written all over them in my eyes. But you guys already know about all of them! Below you’ll find a few sleepers I think could have solid fantasy value in 2020 based on their ADP. 

 

Starting Lineup

 

Order Player Position AB R HR RBI SB AVG
1 Marcus Semien SS 594 98 25 79 12 0.269
2 Ramon Laureano CF 483 68 21 71 13 0.264
3 Matt Chapman 3B 571 95 34 97 3 0.258
4 Matt Olson 1B 548 89 37 101 1 0.255
5 Mark Canha LF 466 70 23 73 3 0.251
6 Khris Davis DH 551 84 38 101 1 0.240
7 Stephen Piscotty RF 359 48 14 50 2 0.259
8 Sean Murphy CF 322 44 14 46 2 0.250
9 Franklin Barreto 2B 300 55 14 44 8 0.243

 

Sleepers:

Mark Canha (ADP: 216): Is that what Canha looks like? In my mind, he was always just a generic whitebread create-a-player default. Actually I guess I wasn’t too far off. The Athletics always have guys like this — random create-a-players who out of nowhere put up productive fantasy seasons. Last year in 410 ABs Canha put up a line of 80/26/58/3/.273. One of the biggest contributors to his mini-breakout in 2019 was getting his walk rate (13.5%) above 10% like he’s had in every stop in the minors. He did this by bringing his swing percentage down from 31.1% to 25%. It makes me wonder if Canha would be better served hitting higher in the lineup as opposed to Semien who could thrive in an RBI producing role. With RISP last year Semien hit .327 while Canha only hit .221. If we’re in a post-juiced ball era I think we see Canha’s HR total settle into the 18-22 range, but if he’s batting 5th I still think his RBI totals will come up a bit. And hopefully, with a healthy and rejuvenated Khris Davis hitting behind him he’ll still be able to score around 80 runs. So another 80/20/70/2/.265 season in round 18 or so is not bad for your 4th OF. 

 

Sean Murphy (ADP:265): When every expert is calling someone a sleeper — are they still considered a sleeper? Murphy was on the shortlist of every expert’s catcher sleepers along with Wilson Ramos and Carson Kelly. Murphy made his big league meh-but (debut) in 2019 finishing the year with 4 HRs in 53 ABs with a .245 AVG. He limped to the final game of the season with only 1 hit in his final 23 ABs. However, in AAA in 2019 he hit .308 with 10 HRs in 120 ABs — albeit in the hitter-friendly PCL league. One thing to keep an eye on with Murphy is his health — in 2018 he had surgery on his wrist which ended his season in July. And in 2019 he tore his left meniscus in May and missed two months of the minor league season. This past October he underwent surgery on his left meniscus again but was able to play in 4 spring training games this year before everything went to Hell. The Athletics #3 ranked prospect could hit for a high average with moderate power in his first big league season, luckily his ADP is low enough where a major injury shouldn’t hurt you too much. 

 

Franklin Barreto (ADP: 535): Technically Barreto is locked into a position battle with Tony Kemp — but man he shouldn’t be. Barreto is a 24-year-old former top-50 prospect while Kemp is a 28-year old journeyman back-up utility guy who is still in the league solely on the value his last name might still carry. “Is that Matt’s little brother?” they still shout from the grass bleachers of the Cactus League. That’s not to say Barreto completely deserves this role based on his big league numbers so far: 201 ABs, 26 runs, 9 HRs, 27 RBI, 3 SB, .189 AVG over 3 seasons. And I’ll stop there — .189 average. Maybe Matt’s little brother doesn’t look that bad! Barreto strikes out way too much (every projection system has him with a 30+ K/rate for 2020,) but that doesn’t mean he can’t work on his plate discipline. In fact, this spring training he’s struck out only 8 times in 39 plate appearances (20.5% K/rate.) Yes, it’s only spring training of course, but it’s something! If Barreto can continue to make strides on his plate discipline there is a sneaky undrafted power/speed threat here. Last season in 373 AAA ABs he had 19 HRs with 15 SBs and a .295 average with a 26.6% K/rate. Again — it was the PCL, but I still think if he cuts back on the K’s a little bit there is a useful middle infielder here. 

 

Starting Rotation

 

Order Player IP W ERA WHIP K
1 Mike Fiers 181 10 5.20 1.38 139
2 Sean Manaea 140 9 4.54 1.32 116
3 Frankie Montas 176 11 4.13 1.28 168
4 Jesus Luzardo 163 11 3.94 1.25 168
5 Chris Bassitt 110 7 4.28 1.28 104

 

Sleepers

Chris Bassitt (ADP: 347): Bassitt is really the only one of the Athletics starting pitchers who could even remotely be considered a sleeper. Manaea, Montas and Luzardo are all being drafted too early to be considered sleepers and Fiers is a dumpster fire AND A FILTHY, DIRTY, ROTTEN SNITCH! Just kidding — I’m a Yankees fan. He’s a saint in my eyes. So Chris Bassitt — let me tell you more about this young upstart prospect. NOPE! 31 years old. Bounced around all levels of the White Sox and Athletics minor league system since being drafted in 2011 and made his big league debut way back in 2014, but was unable to hold onto a steady job until last year with the Athletics. He actually performed reasonably well: 144 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.194 WHIP 8.8 K/9. The 4.40 FIP tells a little bit of a different story, but still not too terrible of a first full season. He throws 5 pitches — his #1 pitch being a sinker which he threw 41.5% of the time last year which hitters only hit .235 off of him. His third pitch — a cutter — wasn’t fooling anyone in 2019. Batters hit .344 off of it and despite only throwing it 13.6% of the time it was the pitch that he gave up the most HRs with. Hopefully, someone is talking to Billy Beane about these numbers to tell Bassitt to abandon that cutter in place of his knee-buckling, slow, looping, drop curveball. Hitters only hit .170 off of that curve in 2019. 

 

Bullpen

 

Role Player IP S HLD ERA WHIP K
Closer Liam Hendriks 65 23 2 2.77 1.18 82
Setup Yusmeiro Petit 81 2 18 3.89 1.07 72
Setup Joakim Soria 66 2 14 3.27 1.21 73

 

Sleepers

Joakim Soria (ADP: 708): The 35-year-old reliever with his 9th team is still hanging around. Soria could be the league’s next LaTroy Hawkins. Last season Soria served as the A’s main set-up man and did about as good as he always does. His 4.30 ERA is the worst of his career, however, if you look closer and remove the three 4 earned run games he had (in which he only pitched ? of an inning total) his ERA would’ve been only 2.77. So if Hendriks struggles (I don’t think he will) or gets injured I think Soria is the handcuff to look at over Petit. Why? Coaches love experience. Don’t forget that over a decade ago Soria had a pair of 40 save seasons with the Royals and as recently as 2018 was closing out games with the White Sox

 

 
  1. KrazyIvan says:
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    Great write up. I’ve picked up Canha and really think of him as a glue guy not only in real life but in fantasy. He got red hot late last year but I don’t think it has drastically changed my view of him.

    As a whole I live the offense and defense for Oakland but I’m not as bullish on the pitching as others. I just see a lot of names of talented guys (and Fiers) who have never done anything very well on the mound for a consistent amount of time at the big league level. Even Hendricks scares me and people have been drafting him high up compared to other RPs.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I was tempted to include Fiers as a sleeper, but thought better of it.
      There’s not a lot of sleeper potential in the pen either.
      Hendrik’s past makes me nervous and started looking into him as a bust – but last year seemed legit.

      • baby seal says:
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        Last year *was* legit, but that doesn’t mean it has to repeat (or not) … just hate the price … is there really a big difference between him and Hansel?

        • Kerry Klug

          Kerry Klug says:
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          Yea you’re paying the troll toll for Hendriks this year.
          He gets a few more K’s than Robles. I think the Athletics will have a few more wins than the Angels. But you’re 100% spot on about the cost.

          • baby seal says:
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            HANSEL IS SO HOT RIGHT NOW!

  2. Mark says:
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    No Seth Brown…..shocking.

    I really hope Barreto has finally found his talent in the MLB. I want to flip him eventually for something in my keeper league.

    I heard that Sean Manaea was throwing harder this spring.

    On a similar note, I read Michael Wacha on the Mets was throwing 95mph this spring. Shorten season, could be a valuable property especially with him on bonuses and a 1 yr deal. Could be an incredible bounce back candidate.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Yea apparently everyone is shocked by Seth Brown. I’m not certain he gets enough ABs to be a sleeper — but fine.

      Seth Brown! There — I wrote about him. Laureano and Canha are locked into OF slots, Olson if healthy has 1B, Khris has DH and between Piscotty and Pinder it’ll be hard for him to find time.

  3. The Hater says:
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    No Seth Brown
    No A.J. Puk
    No mention of Jorge Mateo in the 2B Battle

    Worst. Writeup. Ever.

    • Mark says:
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      I am not sure if you are being sarcastic or not….it’s a very good write up.

      Mateo is behind Barrato and Kemp.

      It’s sleepers, he cannot list everyone as a sleeper.

    • c says:
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      And, evidently, Sean Murphy plays CF. Who knew?

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Worst. Comment Ever.

      Seth Brown might not get enough ABs to be relevant. Is it fair No, sorry about it.
      AJ Puk is already injured and was a top 20 prospect — I don’t think that qualifies him as being a sleeper.
      Jorge Mateo — again might not get enough ABs. I get it — speed, but he’s got more experienced players ahead of him right now. He’s 3rd or 4th in the pecking order.

  4. Edgar Gonzalez says:
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    What are your thoughts on Jorge Mateo ?

    • Harry Lime says:
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      Yeah, sweet cheeks. What about Mateo???

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I don’t think he makes an impact until September (or whatever the equivalent is this year) unless Barreto/Kemp get injured. If he does get some consistent playing time I’m definitely in on him — but everything I’m looking at says that he isn’t even making the team out of spring training. A 25% K/rate in AAA last year could look even worse in the big leagues.

  5. Definitely missed on Seth Brown. Hasn’t really established himself at the MLB level yet, but could breakout given the opportunity. Like him quite a bit. AJ is more known, but one of the best pitching prospects ready to make an impact should’ve made this list
    Like the write, just wished these 2 were included

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      It just comes down to ABs for Brown. I like him — but he isn’t guaranteed playing time. Like Mateo — he had a 25%+ K/rate in AAA last year — teams might start figuring him out. As a a fantasy player – sure he’s got the talent and low ADP to be a sleeper. But I can’t go out on a limb and guarantee him playing time.

  6. Harley Earl says:
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    No bench?

    So where does Seth Brown fall into this cesspool of viral crap? Not worth holding onto now? I liked him as a sleeper but you don’t seem to share the same sentiment!

    What’s the take on Seth Brown? I’m sad.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I just wrote this really long post and it got deleted because I hit submit and didn’t include my name and email in the comments so I’m just defeated now.

      I’m sorry I didn’t include Seth Brown everyone. He’s good. I just don’t know how many ABs he’ll get. Grey wrote a great article about Seth Brown and he’s a million times smarter than I am: https://razzball.com/seth-brown-2020-fantasy-outlook/ Trust Grey.

      Again, I sincerely apologize. But think of it this way — maybe there’s less of a chance your leaguemates drafting him now because I made the grave effort in not including him in this article.

      • Harley Earl says:
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        Hey no problem. Things happen. Been there, done that!

        Appreciate the reply. Keep up the good work!

        If you get the time and the motivation, would love to hear your thoughts on Brown, too!

        • Kerry Klug

          Kerry Klug says:
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          Here were a few of my thoughts that I can remember now:
          He’s going from the best hitters park in the Pacific Coast League to one of the worst MLB parks for lefty power. He’s still a big strong boi though. And Matt Olson is a lefty too and still has 40 HR power.
          His 25% minor league K/rate is a little concerning — not insurmountable — but concerning. Pitchers & teams may start to figure him out — then the adjustment game of cat & mouse commences.
          My biggest concern is ABs — he may be the best third OF option behind Laureano and Canha — but we’ll see how it shakes out. By the end of the season (whenever that may be) he should be starting at RF.

          • Harley Earl says:
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            You make good points, and you bring up some very valid concerns. I’m holding a roster spot for him right now. But I’ve got Mitch Haniger waiting in the wings to come back and if they ever do play this season Haniger may be off the DL so that might mean an early departure for Brown.

            I think ABs is probably the biggest issue. Opportunity is always the first obstacle, although I believe you’re right about RF. He should own that spot at some point. Might just be a guy to keep tabs on and pull the trigger if he gets going. Right now it’s between him and Sam Hilliard for a spot with Haniger getting the other. I like Hilliard better simply because of the Coors upside.

            Good stuff. Thanks for your thoughts. Enjoy all that you guys do!

      • baby seal says:
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        The Razzball commenters are *wayyyy* too into Brown. I’ve seen RCL teams posted, and he is making these 12 team squads??? LOL, no way. That is so dumb.

        I think he probably should’ve been mentioned quickly, but not some *HUGE* omission on your part.

        Grey posted a video of him running the bases in the OF rankings, so naturally everyone here thinks he’s the next Mike Trout because they know 1 off-the-radar name…

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Baby Seal, don’t you dare badmouth Seth Brown

          • baby seal says:
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            Hehehe

  7. Joe Shmoe says:
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    No Brown?

    • Joe Shmoe says:
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      Sorry. I couldn’t stop myself. Great write up!

      • Kerry Klug

        Kerry Klug says:
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        I got your first email notification and almost threw my phone! lol

        • Harley Earl says:
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          Hey Kerry, LOL.

          I’ll promise you, I did not know you had been getting blistered in the comments over Brown when I posted my comment. As you can tell, I only made a comment and asked a question and I did it nicely. I sure wasn’t trying to beat a dead horse or pour salt on an open wound! Glad to get your responses. Sorry you got beat up over this!

          Keep up the good work! We’re all friends here.

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