Athletics Infield: Depth Chart Discussions

Considering I just covered the A’s infield earlier this month when the team acquired infielder Jed Lowrie in exchange for Brad Peacock and Chris Carter, this one will actually be short and sweet. There hasn’t been any change in the two weeks since that last article was published. What I did do was a little more studying of the team and consulted with those who follow the A’s much more closely than I do and whose opinions I trust and respect.

So as always, let’s start with a quick look at the initial depth chart…

Starter Back-Up Reserve
C John Jaso Derek Norris
1B Brandon Moss Daric Barton
2B Jed Lowrie Jemile Weeks Scott Sizemore
SS Hiroyuki Nakajima Adam Rosales Andy Parrino
3B Josh Donaldson Eric Sogard

Catcher: Jaso is just the type of guy Billy Beane wants behind the plate. His defensive skills are solid and he sports a career 13.4-percent walk rate with a .359 on-base percentage. Though he makes excellent contact, he still hits too many ground balls and hasn’t been the luckiest of hitters with respect to his BABIP, so his average will probably hover in the low to mid-.270’s. With mid to low-end power he won’t dazzle you in the counting stats, but if you’re in a league that counts OBP instead of average, he makes for an excellent selection as a second backstop. You could probably get away with him in a one-catcher OBP-league, but the position is deep enough that you may only need him as a reserve. And speaking of reserves, that’s exactly what Norris has become.

First Base: The A’s obviously had enough faith in Brandon Moss’ ability that they felt very comfortable handing him the full time job this year. His glove work is fine and over the last few years he has shown tremendous power at both the Triple-A and major league level. His .306 ISO last season was crazy good and while he strikes out too much for me to believe that he will duplicate his .359 BABIP and .291 average, he should still supply enough overall production to be a decent corner infielder. The fact that he doesn’t generate any power against lefties could be an issue, although the career .261 average against them isn’t completely terrible. But Barton, as the primary back-up, should see a fair amount of starts against southpaws as he owns a .281 career average with an even more impressive .389 on-base percentage. Every once in a while, though, we could see Lowrie make an appearance over here as well.

Second Base: The position was a veritable nightmare for the A’s last year as Sizemore was lost for the year during spring training and Weeks was a disaster at the plate. Lowrie comes in and will take over at second predominately pushing Sizemore and Weeks into a fight for the back-up job.Sizemore’s versatility in the infield just might given him the edge in the end, though Weeks’ speed has him listed before him on the current depth chart. They both hit lefties about the same so they’ll continue to fight it out this spring for the chance to man the keystone on days Lowrie spells Moss. As for Lowrie’s fantasy value, it’s obviously tied to his health which has been a huge issue throughout his career. If he stays healthy, he’ll easily see enough at-bats to be a worthwhile middle infielder, but the injury history obviously makes him far too difficult to trust as your starting second baseman or shortstop.

Shortstop: Beane dipped into the Far East talent pool to land himself a starting shortstop and even with Lowrie in-house, the A’s have been adamant with the fact that Nakajima will not be platooned. He was signed to a two-year, $6.5M deal with a third year option at $5.5M and hopefully, his skills translate to the American game. He has above-average defensive skills and since 2007, the infielder has averaged 20.5 homers per 162 games, along with a .310 average and .381 on-base percentage in Japan. He’s falling through in nearly every mock draft I’ve done, so target him late if you’re looking for middle infield depth. He’s still too much of an unknown commodity, though, to trust as your starting shortstop. Rosales and Parrino will compete for a back-up spot on the 25-man roster but neither holds any fantasy value.

Third Base: The A’s will be giving Donaldson every opportunity to man the hot corner on his own this year. Part of my research was looking into his defense, and yes, I was wrong last time for saying that Lowrie’s defense was better. Granted, we don’t have a lot of major league data to go on, but a friend of mine who watched him play both at third and behind the plate at Triple-A Sacramento said that the glove in the infield is for real. That being said, Lowrie still may spell him at third on days the team feels he needs a rest, but this is Donaldson’s position. The contact rates are a bit off and the batting average is weak, but if his power potential can translate, he could make for decent depth as a plug and play option. While Sogard is listed as the back-up, there’s a good chance he lands back in Triple-A as Sizemore can play third fairly well and gives the team some flexibility.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


21 Responses to “Athletics Infield: Depth Chart Discussions”

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  1. CaliforniaJag says:

    Barton’s .188 average against lefties is just from 2012. He has a career .281/.389/.440 slash against lefties, which is quite a bit better than his numbers against righties.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Ah crap. Thought I had hit the career tab on splits and just glanced too quickly at the average. Thanks for the catch CaliJag. Error corrected.

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    • Chris says:

      What he said… Barton is a legit platoon option at first due to his reverse splits. That, along with his defense and being out of options, probably makes him the favorite to win the 25th roster spot ahead of the loser of the Weeks/Sizemore battle.

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  2. chrisb says:

    Entirely Grant Green-less. Think we can ignore him altogether for 2013?

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  3. johnnycuff says:

    “Lowrie comes in and will take over at second”

    speculation or little-known fact? i haven’t seen this anywhere else.

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  4. Benzedrine says:

    Jaso isn’t really good defensively, worst arm in the game and below average receiver. His ability to draw walks though is his asset.

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    • hayden says:

      didn’t see george kottaras try to throw anyone out last year

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      • Benzedrine says:

        Can’t seem to find the total catcher defense article out there, but I remember Jaso being rated as bad at everything except receiving (I goofed). Assuming Kottaras is pretty bad in the defensive aspects of catching as well, but unsure about his receiving skills.

        Anywho Jaso is more valauble in fantasy.

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    • Forrest Gumption says:

      Jaso is a great hitter/weak defender. He’s not the worst defender though, plus Anderson, Milone & Blackley = pickoff city.

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  5. rubesandbabes says:

    It all sort of comes down to whether Jemile or Sizemore can win back 2b. They both have a chance to do so.

    Otherwise, look for Lowrie to get SS, and Nakajima to 2b, maybe with Sizemore as utility.

    If Brandon Moss drops the Chris Shelton tag, which it looks like he might, look for the PED discussion to get kinda rough when he flies past 30HRs…

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  6. OaktownSteve says:

    Donaldson is the best pure athlete on the team behind Cespedes (maybe not too far behind). He struggled a little on routine stuff last year and some basic infield stuff (rundowns were a riddle to him) but also showed a lot of range, very good footwork, a strong arm and a foundation to be a solid MLB 3rd baseman. At the plate he showed really good power to right center and was quick enough inside when folks tried to get him out on the hands. He’s a real good kid too. Like him a lot.

    Hard to figure where Barton fits in. There’s not a platoon situation with two lefties at 1st and Moss’ splits were actually really good last year. Chances are they are going to have Lowrie there sometimes. I could see them in the marketplace for a 1st baseman in season, especially if Moss comes back to Earth.

    Things will be kind of fluid in spring in that they don’t know what they have in Nakijima. If he pulls a Japanese import infielder flop, then Lowrie plays everyday, Sizemore plays second and they need to carry someone like Rosales that can play every infield postion.

    News out of the A’s camp is that Weeks is in a deep funk and not trying to hide it. Hard to imagine he breaks camp as a major leaguer.

    And on top of everything else, Lowrie will get hurt and the whole thing will blow up anyway.

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    • Haddad says:

      haven’t heard anything of sort about Weeks…source? just curious

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      • OaktownSteve says:

        friend of mine subscribes to like a million A’s player and A’s related twitter feeds. Forget the exact sources on this one but it was multiple. I’ve never Twitterer’d so you’re on your own to find the feeds.

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    • Forrest Gumption says:

      Did you seriously just say Josh Donaldson was in Cespedes league in terms of athleticism? That’s a ludicrous comment. I’d take Young, Crisp and Reddick over him all day and possibly Barton and Weeks too. Ok. Although I don’t hate him at 3B, he’s solid defensively and will hit 20-25 HR with 200 K’s. He’s like Mark Reynolds with better defense. Sizemore and Lowrie will probably see time at 3B too due to Melvin’s obsession with splits and platoons…I don’t like that on paper, but hey if they win, I don’t care.

      Roslaes is out of options and there’s no room for both him and Barton. Very difficult to see them picking Rosales over Barton. Barring an injury, Rosales won’t be on the A’s on Opening Day.

      Barton is in my observation, about 50 times a better defensive 1B than Moss. Why they don’t just run with Moss and Smith as the DH, and Barton at 1B for the first two months to give Barton a last chance, is beyond me. If Barton is an abomination at the plate, then Moss/Smith/Lowrie goes to 1B/DH. Don’t forget Jaso and Crisp/Cespedes/Young will see time at DH too. But I’d rather run with Moss at DH/Barton at 1B.

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  7. Gabe says:

    I don’t think Lowrie will be the starting 2b. He will be a super utility man. He’ll back-up Nakajima at SS (Japan seasons are 26 games shorter and A’s will have mentality that they are a playoff team, so Lowrie could see 30 games at short as a backup), backup 2b to Sizemore/Weeks, play against some righties at third to spell Donaldson and play against lefties at 1B.

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  8. Scott says:

    couple of things:
    Sizemore would probably play 3rd over Sogard and
    Sizemore and Weeks are NOT about the same vr Lefty’s. Its actually a big difference as Weeks is below average both last year and career.
    Sizemore’s splits vr Left are well above average both his last year and career and would be top 3 on the A’s roster this year.

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  9. Forrest Gumption says:

    “2B was a veritable nightmare for the A’s last year as Sizemore was lost for the year during spring training”

    Except Sizemore was supposed he opening day 3B, with Weeks at 2B. Both of them underperformed/did not perform.

    3B last year for Oakland: Sizemore->Donaldson->Inge->Donaldson.

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