Projected WARMarket Value
Projected WAR by grouping is from Fangraphs’ depth charts.
Historically each win is worth ~$9 million on the free agent market
- Marcus Semien, SS
- Matt Joyce, LF
- Jed Lowrie, 2B
- Khris Davis, DH
- Matt Olson, 1B
- Stephen Piscotty, RF
- Jonathan Lucroy, C
- Matt Chapman, 3B
- Dustin Fowler, CF
- Kendall Graveman, RHP
- Sean Manaea, LHP
- Paul Blackburn, RHP
- Andrew Triggs, RHP
- Daniel Mengden, RHP
- Bob Melvin
“Khris Davis is coming off consecutive 40-homer campaigns, Jed Lowrie put up 3-4 WAR last season, and Joyce was a productive hitter as well. Marcus Semien is the longest-tenured player on the team, dating back to 2015, but he’s only just entering his prime years and is still a breakout candidate in his own right.
To complete the puzzle, the A’s made two shrewd additions this winter. Both struggled through off-years in 2017, which is what made them affordable for Oakland, but there’s plenty of hope that they can bounce back. Stephen Piscotty shores up the corner outfield and allows Khrush to hide his exploitable throwing arm in the DH spot, and like Semien he’s still young enough to be looking forward to his peak rather than back on it. Catching remained as the final weak spot, but the last-minute addition of Lucroy fills that void with a recent All-Star and pushes Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley down the depth chart.
Not only does the offense look strong, but Oakland’s defense is improving quickly as well. They were arguably the worst fielding team in the sport over these last three rebuilding years, but that won’t be the case anymore. The middle infield is only average at best, but it’s not a glaring weakness anymore and several positions are now potential pluses.
Unfortunately, the pitching is lagging far behind the lineup. There is plenty of promise in the starting rotation, but they’re light on track record and suffered their share of injuries last year. This is the area of the team most likely to hold them back from contention for the time being.”
Khris Davis and Matt Olson offer piles of dingers, but the reason to watch the A’s in 2018 is third baseman Matt Chapman. He’ll hit his share of homers too, with at least 30 in each of the last two seasons between the minors and majors, but that’s just a bonus. The real show is what he does on the defensive side of the ball, and it must be seen to be believed.
Chapman combines range, athleticism, lightning reflexes, reckless abandon, and an elite throwing arm to make extraordinary plays on what seems like a nightly basis. His arm stands out as a particular superpower, but he can just as easily drop your jaw by diving to spear a seemingly unreachable grounder, or sprinting all over the Coliseum’s enormous foul ground for stray popups. He was so incredible in his debut last summer that, despite playing only 84 games in the bigs, he finished runner-up in the Fielding Bible voting at the hot corner — behind only his old high school teammate, Nolan Arenado.
Even the numbers are amazed by Chapman. For whatever the advanced metrics UZR and DRS are worth in a single-season sample, he led all AL third basemen in both of them by wide margins despite his limited playing time. Oakland’s pitching might get ugly and their offensive attack is mostly made of solo homers, but Chapman’s defensive highlights are worth tuning in for all on their own.
You don’t have to squint too hard to see the A’s making the kind of last-place-to-postseason leap the Twins did a year ago, and since last season’s A’s won 75 games, they don’t even have to leap as far. Khris Davis gets to DH full-time now after the Stephen Piscotty trade, improving the defense and maybe the offense, too, if Piscotty rebounds. Oakland gets to test out a full season of Matt Olson, who replaced Yonder Alonso following his trade out of town by hitting even better — and he’s just 24. Jonathan Lucroy should be an upgrade behind the plate, and the kind that can help guide a young rotation with promise: every starter is under 30 years old, and while they aren’t quite ready to challenge the Astros, a strong showing from them would make a wild card run possible.
The worst thing that seems to happen to the A’s, now and in the past, is that they run in place. There won’t be quite enough bumps in production, breakouts will be countered by down years, and they’ll just kind of sit in the middle, moving one year closer to trading all of the productive young talent they do have so they can try this process over again for the umpteenth time. With a young rotation and some inexpensive vets added to supplement a talented but ultimately unproven lineup, it’s not out of the realm of possibility this team just repeats its 2017.