Despite liquidating their roster during the 2008 offseason, Oakland managed to have a solid season, staying in the race before the Angels eventually ran away with the division. Still, they beat expectations, which in its own right has become an expectation of any team put together by Billy Beane. Tempting fate, the Athletics became buyers of sort during this past offseason, acquiring Matt Holliday in a trade with Colorado and making a valiant run to sign Rafael Furcal before losing out of him to the Dodgers. They may not be a division contender in 2009, but they should continue to make things interesting for each of their opponents.
#1 Overall Oakland Athletics: Matt Holliday (LF) – Fantasy Baseball 2009
2008 Stats: .321 BA, 25 HR, 38 2B, 88 RBI, 28 SB, 107 RS
Oakland pulled a complete coup in picking up Matt Holliday, making them the unexpected victor in the pursuit for his services. Holliday is the type of professional hitter that Beane aspires to have, a batter who isn’t afraid to take a walk and can hit the ball with authority when he isn’t. The question will need to be answered about whether or not he can hit away from Colorado, especially moving to McAfee Coliseum, which isn’t altogether friendly to hitters, but Holliday should adapt well and still put up a season of .320, 30 home runs, and 100 RBI. However, don’t expect another year of 28 stolen bases though, Billy Beane teams don’t run.
#2 Overall Oakland Athletics: Jason Giambi (1B) – Fantasy Baseball 2009
2008 Stats: .290 BA, 21 HR, 22 2B, 77 RBI, 13 SB, 65 RS
It will be strange homecoming for Giambi in 2009, returning to the team he spurned to sign the big money contract with the Yankees in 2002. He doesn’t quite return home as the same player, having endured the BALCO scandal and the humbling experience of playing under the microscope in New York. 2008 was a nice power year for Giambi, as he put up 32 home runs and 96 RBI, but his average continued to ride on the wrong side of .250. Maybe a reduction in pressure by playing in Oakland will rejuvenate the fallen slugger, with a season in line of .260, 30 home runs, and 95 RBI.
#3 Overall Oakland Athletics: Justin Duchscherer (SP) – Fantasy Baseball 2009
2008 stats: 10 Wins and 8 Losses, 2.54 ERA, .995 WHIP, 95 SO
Converted from one of the most consistent set-up men in the game to a starter in 2008, Duchscherer responded as well as could be expected before losing the last part of his season to injury. His peripheral stats were solid, striking out 95 hitters in just 141 innings pitched and his WHIP was an astounding .995 for the season. If he can stretch his arm out a little more in 2009, he may be in line for 14 wins, an ERA near 3.00, and 140 strikeouts.
#4 Overall Oakland Athletics: Kurt Suzuki (C) – Fantasy Baseball 2009
2008 Stats: .279 BA, 7 HR, 25 2B, 42 RBI, 2 SB, 54 RS
Suzuki makes this list for a couple of reasons. First, as a catcher, he missed only 14 games in 2008, meaning he’ll be in the line-up consistently in order for you to take advantage of his production. Second, he’s a solid option at a position that has a dearth of offensive talent. He’s not spectacular, but he’s a solid late round option for those that choose to wait to staff that position. There is no reason to not expect a season similar to the one he put up in 2008.
#5 Overall Oakland Athletics: Jack Cust (RF/1B) – Fantasy Baseball 2009
2008 Stats: .231 BA, 33 HR, 19 2B, 77 RBI, 0 SB, 77 RS
Jack Cust is the John Daly of baseball, embodying the the “Grip ‘Em and Rip ‘Em” mentality that made the golfer famous. Cust is a solid power producer, having tallied 25 or more home runs in each of his seasons in Oakland, but he’s also a drag on every other batting stat, striking out nearly 200 times in 2008 and making outs in 381 of his 598 plate appearances during the season. If you play in a league that credits on base percentage, you’ll love the home runs and walks, but otherwise, you may want to be weary of a hitter that will likely put up a batting line of .240, 32 home runs, and 80 RBI while failing to reach base in over half of his at-bats.
MLB Standings, MLB.com
MLB Team Stats, Hitting, MLB.com
MLB Team Stats, Pitching, MLB.com
Matt Holliday, Baseball-Reference.com
Jason Giambi, Baseball-Reference.com
Justin Duchscherer, Baseball-Reference.com
Kurt Suzuki, Baseball-Reference.com
Jack Cust, Baseball-Reference.com