The Oakland A’s are a factory. A factory of competent, mature pitchers who can hack it at the major league level. Just look at the track record littered across the league. Hudson, Zito, and Mulder (R.I.F.P. (fantasy peace)) were just the beginning. New arms emerge every year so I’m going to take the time to explain why I think the current Oakland staff has the potential to be the next young dominant staff- all of them, 1 through 5, being fantasy relevant. Did I just blow your mind? Probably not. If you’re reading this site, you probably know a thing or two about major league baseball (I mean this in the sense that how else are you going to end up on our humble site?). Seriously. With some help from fangraphs and some prospecting resources (see, multiple meanings), I will show you the thinking behind my belief that the Oakland A’s have the potential to be a dominant fanatsy staff in 2011.
Trevor Cahill has a 1.00 WHIP. Let me type that again. Trevor Cahill, this goofy looking young’n (he’s 22! Lawdy!). OK talking like a prospector while discussing the pitchers was an annoying experiment that lasted the first line… With a stellar .217 BABIPA (with a Fangraphs article to boot!)and an outstanding ground ball rate (55.9%), some statistical correction will likely occur (read; little- the kid is plain good). A similar groundball pitcher, by the name of Tim Hudson, had a one year of goodness into next year excellent-ness. Built differently but blessed with a similar ability to drive the ball to the bad part of hitters’ bats, Cahill is poised to have a heckuva 2011. The K rate will never wow you (see Hudson, Tim again), but it won’t hurt and the kid has demonstrated the ability to get people out. Consistently. Consistency is what makes and breaks young pitching, just ask Clay Buchholz.
Let me preface anything I say about Anderson with this: I love the guy. I was wowed by his mastery over the Red Sox in ’09 and think he has ace stuff. When healthy. If Healthy. And not too beefy. He’s got great stuff. Last season it appeared that Anderson got more comfortable with his stuff posting markedly better splits as the season went on (here), as his walks went down and K’s went up significantly. He was burned by the Longball quite a bit to start the season (2009 that is) but also corrected that. If not for injury this year, we would be talking about the emergence of quite the staff in Oakland in 2010. Instead, I am talking about the potential greatness in 2011 and hoping I turn out to look like a wicked smart dude. Anderson, like Cahill, has good groundball rates, as well as a high strand rate (which you can say is bad, but shows me that he has poise when he slips up), and has better strikeout potential than Cahill, as he has more whiff-inducing stuff. I’m already marking him down as a sleeper for 2011 and he is on my fantasy draft board going forward. Just sayin’.
Gio Gonzalez has unhittable stuff. Unfortunately, as is often the case with outstanding Wiffle Ball pitchers and Lefties with nasty stuff, he sometimes has issue with control. When he first got called up in 2008 he had 34 K’s in 34 innings. You can’t fudge those type of numbers. He also, however, had 25 walks. Not so good. The next year he did better with the K’s/Walks but had big time issues with the homer. I mean unless you think you can win a game giving up 1.28 homers per 9 innings (14 with 17 Starts, 20 appearances. Just think about that likelihood). He has big time stuff, remember, so it’s just a matter of time before things click. Things are clicking. Though he has the occasional hiccup, this year has been a major step forward for Gonzalez. He has been characteristically unhittable (.224 BAA) and strikes out folks in bunches (134 in 161 IP). He will always walk a bunch and I don’t mean to say his WHIP will suddenly drop. But if you can live with the walks (you can, I swear) and a 1.25-1.35 WHIP with a bunch of K’s, Gio Gonzalez is a very interesting play for next year as he continues his progression.
Vinnie is also a young man (hence his inclusion in the post, I suppose) on a learning curve, from Hackensack, NJ (it’s a real place I checked). The point of this collection of arms is that they are on the Oakland-quick program. Mazzaro went through some growing pains this season and last but check out his July and August stats this year. He’s been an excellent pitcher. He is nothing short of ordinary. He has good stuff and gets the job done with a good K/9. Mazzaro’s big issue, for the way he pitches, is walks. If he can keep his BB/9 closer to 2 than 3, he can keep his WHIP around 1.2-1.3 and be a very serviceable pitcher going forward. And, let us not forget, he is only 23. That means everything I say could be moot as he makes the jump when he turns 24. I’m just being more cautious in his development, banking on another year of up and down before he puts it all together- but if I’m wrong, I’m right, and this post about the future-great A’s looks even better. Pretty clever on my part, I think. Mazzaro is a name to remember next year to watch and see if he gets off to a hot start, again, he’s only a young’n.
Ross is another guy like Mazzaro- good stuff, hasn’t been special with mediocre K:BB numbers despite good overall numbers. This is typical of good young pitchers (it is. just look it up. better yet, read about Jon Lester’s first few years). As he matures, Ross figures to move from the bullpen and become another solid starter, I just don’t know if that’ll be in 2011 or 2012. He’ll be in the mix in 2011 so watch out, though I still say Mazzaro’s Majors experience puts him well ahead this prospect. Santos is more interesting. From what I read (and here is an OUTSTANDING article on him), with a few minor tweaks to his delivery after major surgery, Santos has a simply electric fastball/slider/slurve combination. The question is whether or not he can withstand being a starter after his injury. I’m guessing they give him a shot at both in 2011 so he could be a name to keep floating around in your brainspace (or write it down if you’re cramped for space or have a small brain). Both are among the several names I’ve come across as pitching prospects for the 2011 season and I give Ross the upper hand, simply because he is ahead in the timetable.
But what do I know?
There you have it folks, the young guns of the A’s. Look out for them next year, I’m thinking they make a big step in both pitching and hitting, with Carter and the other Weeks brother on the way.
that’s all, enjoy the black keys: