Oakland Athletics General Maneger Billy Beane’s unconventional management methods were the focus of Michael Lewis’ 2003 blockbuster book Moneyball. By focusing on on-base percentage and other sabermetric tools, Beane was able to build a successful ball club with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.
Beane has continued his excellent work at the helm of the A’s, bringing in players like Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham to help bolster the offense, while adding Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes to help Andrew Bailey and the bullpen close out games.
Perhaps the team’s starting rotation is the best example of Beane’s work, as it is filled with excellent young arms like Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden and Trevor Cahill. Each pitcher was either brought up in the farm system or acquired via a classic Billy Beane trade for prospects.
Who To Target
The 2011 Oakland A’s have an excellent chance of winning the AL West, yet the team does not have a top-tier player to target in fantasy drafts this spring. From a fantasy perspective, the most valuable player may be Andrew Bailey, the team’s closer, who has an excellent ERA and K/9 IP ratio.
As mentioned above, the A’s have a collection of excellent young arms, and all of them should be owned in all formats. While none of the pitchers are worthy of being a number one fantasy starter, all of them are viable third and fourth starters who can help with wins and ERA.
In his first full season in the majors, shortstop Cliff Pennington stole 29 bases and scored 64 runs. Although his .250 batting average was obviously a detriment to fantasy owners, his speed helped balance out his lack of production at the plate.
Look for Pennington to raise his average closer to a more respectable .270 while continuing to be one of the top base-stealing shortstops. Also, he will be an excellent sleeper if he can provide fantasy owners with double digit home runs.
This article was published on www.kramericasports.com, the home of free fantasy baseball news, rankings and advice.