2021 ZiPS Projections: Oakland Athletics

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for nine years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Oakland Athletics.

Batters

Marcus Semien’s BABIP-aided regression to the mean was unwelcome, but Oakland received surprising production elsewhere from sources such as Robbie Grossman. That being said, the loss of Semien to free agency does create a bit of a vacuum, as a fair amount of the team’s depth at shortstop from the last few years (Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Jurickson Profar theoretically) has moved on to other organizations. Chad Pinder is likely the de facto shortstop if the season started today, but there’s a good chance that Oakland’s starter in 2021 is not in this set of projections, unless Semien returns. Normally I’d think a player of his caliber would be loath to sign a one-year deal, but given the circumstances of baseball in 2020, who knows if a multi-year deal is in his future. Suffice it to say, it would have been highly useful for the minor leagues to exist last season so that the A’s could have seen more of Vimael Machín or Nick Allen.

Oakland’s offense will go as far as their current Big Three — Matt Chapman, Ramón Laureano, and Matt Olson — take them. Second base and right field do show up as weaknesses in the projections, and this is another place where the lack of a minor league season hurts the A’s; they don’t sign free agents to big contracts, so getting to look at some of that Quadruple-A talent is a valuable exercise. ZiPS is sort of optimistic about Khris Davis, but after a second down season, the ceiling has been lowered farther than that early scene in the Wonka factory. Oakland’s top-level talent still keeps it in the high-80s in wins without a single move, but I’m quite uneasy about the team’s overall depth.

Pitchers

The biggest question for the starting pitching is whether they actually meet the innings totals in our depth charts. It’s a lot of frames for Jesús Luzardo and Sean Manaea, and the A’s don’t have a great deal of depth at the back-end of the rotation (or at least depth you actually want to be using). Like the shortstop situation, Oakland is thinner on those random low-velocity fourth-starter types that are normally well-present. We’re still very early in the offseason (this is the earliest ZiPS debut!), so there’s plenty of time to add a name or two to replace Mike Fiers and Daniel Mengden in that role. A.J. Puk’s health is a serious question mark — shoulder surgery is scary! — and I wouldn’t want to enter the season as a contender with Grant Holmes being the Plan B somewhere.

Similarly, the A’s have some work to do with their bullpen depth, as three of their four best projected relief arms above are now free agents. If we don’t count Puk in the bullpen as a possibility, only four pitchers project at the 100 ERA+ mark: Jake Diekman, J.B. Wendelken, Lou Trivino, and, by a hair, Brian Schlitter, who was re-signed as a minor league free agent. Diekman would seem to be the heir to Liam Hendriks by default, but his walks give me a serious case of Fernando Rodney heartburn. The A’s will likely be able to sign some depth cheaply thanks to a league that should be miserly across the board — e.g. nobody claiming Brad Hand and his one-year contract — but since those signed players are not yet signed players, I cannot comment on them.

One pedantic note for 2021: For the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth charts playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here.

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Matt Chapman R 28 3B 592 528 88 130 33 5 34 91 54 167 2 2
Marcus Semien R 30 SS 649 579 91 149 30 4 23 78 66 113 12 4
Matt Olson L 27 1B 594 514 81 122 22 1 39 109 71 174 2 0
Ramon Laureano R 26 CF 534 471 74 117 26 2 25 75 44 149 12 3
Mark Canha R 32 LF 489 411 67 98 23 3 19 66 58 118 4 1
Sean Murphy R 26 C 341 306 42 74 17 1 13 41 26 79 1 0
Khris Davis R 33 DH 509 451 64 104 18 0 29 87 47 152 0 0
Sheldon Neuse R 26 3B 587 543 61 133 26 2 15 62 39 180 5 3
Austin Allen L 27 C 410 380 45 91 22 0 17 59 25 116 0 1
Chad Pinder R 29 SS 346 315 42 79 17 1 14 48 23 87 1 1
Dustin Fowler L 26 CF 569 537 65 135 24 7 17 70 27 148 12 5
Robbie Grossman B 31 LF 467 402 55 96 24 3 10 46 58 91 10 3
Nick Allen R 22 SS 466 429 43 98 22 4 3 32 25 91 13 9
Nate Orf R 31 2B 433 376 50 83 16 3 6 35 39 80 9 3
Vimael Machin L 27 SS 455 400 51 93 19 1 6 32 49 80 4 2
Tommy La Stella L 32 2B 391 349 48 93 17 2 9 40 34 35 1 0
Tony Kemp L 29 2B 393 347 48 90 17 3 5 31 35 51 11 5
Stephen Piscotty R 30 RF 470 427 52 103 22 0 16 67 34 114 6 1
Jonah Heim B 26 C 392 360 39 80 16 1 6 38 26 73 1 1
Jake Lamb L 30 3B 366 317 42 67 16 2 12 51 41 96 2 2
Jonah Bride R 25 3B 458 414 44 89 17 2 8 39 30 111 2 1
Ronnie Freeman R 30 C 249 232 24 53 8 1 5 24 15 63 0 0
Chase Calabuig L 25 LF 493 438 47 102 16 2 6 31 48 117 6 4
Eric Campbell R 34 1B 382 334 43 77 17 1 8 44 39 81 5 3
Jason Krizan L 32 2B 428 388 43 93 22 2 8 44 36 62 2 1
Skye Bolt B 27 RF 455 411 47 83 19 4 12 47 36 154 8 5
Luis Barrera L 25 CF 434 406 41 93 17 8 5 36 21 105 12 8
Greg Deichmann L 26 RF 343 312 33 63 13 2 10 34 27 109 9 3
Ryan Court R 33 1B 387 345 40 72 15 1 10 41 36 136 3 1
Nate Mondou L 26 2B 540 485 50 105 19 3 5 38 42 121 7 7
Seth Brown L 28 1B 487 450 54 99 22 3 16 61 31 157 5 2
Edwin Diaz R 25 3B 473 429 43 75 20 3 11 43 35 174 2 0
Dillon Thomas L 28 RF 453 411 42 81 18 3 9 40 31 173 15 8
Trace Loehr L 26 2B 465 437 40 95 17 3 4 31 22 108 8 7
Buddy Reed B 26 CF 478 439 44 82 16 4 11 48 31 184 21 10
Tyler Ramirez L 26 LF 525 464 50 90 20 2 8 42 51 183 4 2
Mikey White R 27 1B 447 410 42 80 19 1 10 44 30 151 1 1
Lazaro Armenteros R 22 LF 527 476 53 84 17 3 18 55 46 228 15 8

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Matt Chapman .246 .323 .521 127 .275 .294 6.0 13 5.3 Troy Glaus
Marcus Semien .257 .333 .442 111 .185 .284 5.4 3 4.2 Jay Bell
Matt Olson .237 .337 .512 129 .274 .276 6.1 8 4.0 Mo Vaughn
Ramon Laureano .248 .326 .471 116 .223 .310 5.7 3 3.5 Rick Monday
Mark Canha .238 .350 .448 118 .209 .288 5.6 -2 2.1 Babe Herman
Sean Murphy .242 .306 .431 100 .190 .285 4.7 3 1.9 Josh Willingham
Khris Davis .231 .310 .463 109 .233 .278 5.0 0 1.5 Ripper Collins
Sheldon Neuse .245 .296 .383 85 .138 .339 4.0 5 1.5 Shea Hillenbrand
Austin Allen .239 .290 .432 95 .192 .300 4.4 -2 1.3 Rick Wilkins
Chad Pinder .251 .310 .444 105 .194 .304 4.9 -6 1.1 Joe Funaro
Dustin Fowler .251 .290 .417 92 .166 .317 4.4 -4 1.0 Jacob Cruz
Robbie Grossman .239 .338 .388 100 .149 .286 4.8 -2 1.0 Lee Stevens
Nick Allen .228 .278 .319 64 .091 .284 3.0 12 1.0 Chris Woodward
Nate Orf .221 .311 .327 77 .106 .266 3.6 3 0.9 Luis Alicea
Vimael Machin .233 .317 .330 79 .098 .277 3.7 1 0.9 Trey Webb
Tommy La Stella .266 .336 .404 103 .138 .275 5.0 -8 0.9 Warren Morris
Tony Kemp .259 .333 .369 94 .110 .292 4.5 -4 0.9 Kurt Abbott
Stephen Piscotty .241 .303 .405 93 .164 .293 4.5 1 0.9 Tony Barron
Jonah Heim .222 .276 .322 65 .100 .263 3.1 7 0.8 Bobby Wilson
Jake Lamb .211 .309 .388 91 .177 .263 4.0 -3 0.5 Brent Abernathy
Jonah Bride .215 .284 .324 67 .109 .275 3.2 6 0.5 John Hattig
Ronnie Freeman .228 .277 .336 68 .108 .293 3.3 3 0.4 Dwight Lowry
Chase Calabuig .233 .312 .320 75 .087 .305 3.5 5 0.2 Marvin Lowrance
Eric Campbell .231 .315 .359 86 .129 .282 3.9 1 0.2 Bill Robinson
Jason Krizan .240 .303 .369 84 .129 .267 4.0 -6 0.2 P.J. Forbes
Skye Bolt .202 .269 .355 70 .153 .290 3.2 9 0.1 Bruce Fields
Luis Barrera .229 .271 .347 69 .118 .297 3.2 3 0.0 Kimera Bartee
Greg Deichmann .202 .268 .353 69 .151 .275 3.3 3 -0.2 Ryan Harvey
Ryan Court .209 .289 .345 74 .136 .312 3.4 2 -0.2 Ron Coomer
Nate Mondou .216 .284 .299 62 .082 .279 2.8 3 -0.3 Lance Blankenship
Seth Brown .220 .271 .389 79 .169 .300 3.7 1 -0.3 Steve Dunn
Edwin Diaz .175 .242 .312 51 .138 .262 2.5 8 -0.3 John Cotton
Dillon Thomas .197 .265 .321 61 .124 .314 2.8 4 -0.8 Steve Hammond
Trace Loehr .217 .255 .297 52 .080 .280 2.5 3 -1.0 Jose Delgado
Buddy Reed .187 .244 .317 53 .130 .291 2.6 1 -1.1 Jeff McNeely
Tyler Ramirez .194 .281 .297 60 .103 .300 2.8 2 -1.1 Brent Bowers
Mikey White .195 .258 .320 58 .124 .281 2.7 2 -1.3 Chris Gimenez
Lazaro Armenteros .176 .256 .338 62 .162 .287 2.8 -12 -2.5 Ntema Ndungidi

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Mike Minor L 33 10 8 3.96 29 27 163.7 145 72 24 46 153 4.17
Frankie Montas R 28 10 8 3.98 25 24 129.0 124 57 18 42 133 4.05
Jesus Luzardo L 23 6 5 3.77 27 20 112.3 104 47 16 32 121 3.89
Liam Hendriks R 32 5 2 2.59 61 0 66.0 49 19 7 17 93 2.56
Sean Manaea L 29 8 7 4.07 20 20 104.0 99 47 16 26 91 4.32
Chris Bassitt R 32 7 6 4.24 25 21 116.7 113 55 17 42 105 4.56
Daulton Jefferies R 25 3 2 4.21 23 14 68.3 69 32 11 16 63 4.31
Daniel Mengden R 28 6 6 4.57 22 17 104.3 103 53 16 35 84 4.66
Mike Fiers R 36 7 8 4.86 24 24 126.0 130 68 24 38 92 5.29
Jake Diekman L 34 3 2 3.42 61 0 50.0 36 19 4 32 70 3.70
Paul Blackburn R 27 6 7 4.80 20 18 101.3 109 54 15 29 68 4.77
Grant Holmes R 25 5 5 4.70 25 19 88.0 90 46 14 35 75 4.87
Yusmeiro Petit R 36 4 3 3.72 62 0 65.3 60 27 10 12 59 3.91
Joakim Soria R 37 4 3 3.59 55 0 52.7 46 21 6 18 57 3.64
A.J. Puk L 26 4 4 4.40 18 11 57.3 53 28 7 30 60 4.35
J.B. Wendelken R 28 5 4 4.00 58 1 69.7 63 31 9 28 74 4.11
Brian Howard R 26 7 9 5.13 24 24 124.7 136 71 23 45 96 5.29
Lou Trivino R 29 4 3 3.96 61 0 63.7 56 28 7 31 63 4.23
Zach Lee R 29 6 7 5.13 22 20 112.3 125 64 18 38 77 5.07
Burch Smith R 31 4 5 4.91 28 11 77.0 73 42 13 44 84 5.06
Brian Schlitter R 35 3 3 4.22 41 1 49.0 51 23 5 18 31 4.47
Montana DuRapau R 29 3 3 4.33 45 1 54.0 49 26 8 24 64 4.24
T.J. McFarland L 32 1 1 4.23 48 0 55.3 60 26 6 18 32 4.46
Ben Bracewell R 30 4 5 5.11 31 11 91.7 97 52 15 38 72 5.14
James Kaprielian R 27 2 3 5.17 15 11 47.0 50 27 10 16 42 5.31
Donnie Hart L 30 3 3 4.39 53 0 53.3 56 26 6 19 36 4.53
Parker Dunshee R 26 5 7 5.35 25 22 114.3 121 68 25 43 100 5.59
Ian Gardeck R 30 3 3 4.60 37 0 43.0 40 22 4 29 43 4.55
Seth Martinez R 26 5 6 4.91 39 3 73.3 79 40 11 24 51 4.88
Lucas Luetge L 34 4 4 4.68 43 0 50.0 48 26 8 22 51 4.66
Matt Blackham R 28 4 4 4.71 41 0 49.7 42 26 6 36 58 4.77
Eric Mariñez R 25 3 3 4.70 49 0 61.3 54 32 5 50 64 4.79
Jesus Zambrano R 24 3 3 4.82 45 1 71.0 76 38 10 28 50 4.95
Cody Stull L 29 2 3 4.87 35 0 48.0 49 26 6 24 37 4.95
Michael Ynoa R 29 1 1 5.68 16 0 19.0 19 12 3 15 18 6.02
Jaime Schultz R 30 2 3 5.19 45 4 59.0 53 34 11 39 72 5.35
Miguel Romero R 27 3 3 4.93 43 1 65.7 65 36 11 31 62 5.02
Jordan Weems R 28 2 3 5.33 37 1 49.0 47 29 7 34 50 5.26
Ty Damron L 26 4 5 5.26 35 1 49.7 48 29 7 37 49 5.46
Zac Reininger R 28 4 5 5.22 57 4 79.3 88 46 13 34 58 5.25
Trey Cochran-Gill R 28 2 3 5.57 31 1 42.0 46 26 5 28 26 5.70
Matt Milburn R 27 6 9 5.72 25 23 130.7 157 83 26 35 69 5.70
Norge Ruiz R 27 3 5 6.00 30 9 87.0 105 58 18 33 51 6.01

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Mike Minor 8.4 2.5 1.3 6.8% 22.6% .270 107 94 2.7 Rick Honeycutt
Frankie Montas 9.3 2.9 1.3 7.6% 24.2% .302 106 94 2.1 Ed Wojna
Jesus Luzardo 9.7 2.6 1.3 6.8% 25.6% .296 112 89 2.0 Steve Trout
Liam Hendriks 12.7 2.3 1.0 6.5% 35.6% .294 163 61 1.9 Doug Jones
Sean Manaea 7.9 2.3 1.4 6.0% 21.0% .280 104 96 1.6 Randy Jones
Chris Bassitt 8.1 3.2 1.3 8.3% 20.8% .288 100 100 1.5 Denny Galehouse
Daulton Jefferies 8.3 2.1 1.4 5.5% 21.8% .297 100 100 0.9 John Hope
Daniel Mengden 7.2 3.0 1.4 7.8% 18.8% .282 93 108 0.8 Buck Ross
Mike Fiers 6.6 2.7 1.7 7.0% 16.9% .277 87 115 0.8 Bob Forsch
Jake Diekman 12.6 5.8 0.7 14.5% 31.7% .294 124 81 0.7 Kevin Tolar
Paul Blackburn 6.0 2.6 1.3 6.6% 15.5% .292 88 113 0.7 John Doherty
Grant Holmes 7.7 3.6 1.4 9.0% 19.4% .293 90 111 0.7 Dan Smith
Yusmeiro Petit 8.1 1.7 1.4 4.6% 22.4% .275 114 88 0.7 Roy Face
Joakim Soria 9.7 3.1 1.0 8.1% 25.8% .290 118 85 0.6 Shigetoshi Hasegawa
A.J. Puk 9.4 4.7 1.1 11.9% 23.7% .299 96 104 0.6 Jorge de la Rosa
J.B. Wendelken 9.6 3.6 1.2 9.4% 24.7% .293 106 95 0.5 Todd Williams
Brian Howard 6.9 3.2 1.7 8.1% 17.4% .296 83 121 0.4 Michael Macdonald
Lou Trivino 8.9 4.4 1.0 11.2% 22.7% .283 107 94 0.4 Ed Farmer
Zach Lee 6.2 3.0 1.4 7.6% 15.5% .299 83 121 0.3 Joe Mays
Burch Smith 9.8 5.1 1.5 12.7% 24.2% .297 86 116 0.3 Jarod Juelsgaard
Brian Schlitter 5.7 3.3 0.9 8.4% 14.5% .291 100 100 0.2 Fred Gladding
Montana DuRapau 10.7 4.0 1.3 10.2% 27.2% .301 98 102 0.2 Ernie Camacho
T.J. McFarland 5.2 2.9 1.0 7.5% 13.3% .295 100 100 0.2 Dave Tomlin
Ben Bracewell 7.1 3.7 1.5 9.3% 17.6% .295 83 121 0.1 Karl Drews
James Kaprielian 8.0 3.1 1.9 7.8% 20.4% .294 82 122 0.1 Elmer Dessens
Donnie Hart 6.1 3.2 1.0 8.1% 15.4% .294 96 104 0.1 Dave Tomlin
Parker Dunshee 7.9 3.4 2.0 8.5% 19.8% .290 79 127 0.0 Sean Lawrence
Ian Gardeck 9.0 6.1 0.8 14.7% 21.8% .303 92 109 -0.1 Jerry Johnson
Seth Martinez 6.3 2.9 1.4 7.5% 15.9% .294 86 116 -0.1 Clay Carroll
Lucas Luetge 9.2 4.0 1.4 10.0% 23.3% .294 90 111 -0.1 Mike Venafro
Matt Blackham 10.5 6.5 1.1 15.9% 25.6% .290 90 111 -0.1 George Smith
Eric Mariñez 9.4 7.3 0.7 17.4% 22.2% .297 90 111 -0.2 Sam Nahem
Jesus Zambrano 6.3 3.5 1.3 8.9% 15.9% .296 88 114 -0.2 Jack Cassel
Cody Stull 6.9 4.5 1.1 11.1% 17.1% .295 87 115 -0.2 Jim Brewer
Michael Ynoa 8.5 7.1 1.4 16.3% 19.6% .296 74 134 -0.3 Ed Sprague
Jaime Schultz 11.0 5.9 1.7 14.5% 26.8% .294 82 123 -0.3 Archie Corbin
Miguel Romero 8.5 4.2 1.5 10.7% 21.3% .293 86 117 -0.3 Kevin Joseph
Jordan Weems 9.2 6.2 1.3 14.9% 21.9% .299 79 126 -0.3 Ryan Baker
Ty Damron 8.9 6.7 1.3 15.8% 20.9% .297 81 124 -0.4 Brian Adams
Zac Reininger 6.6 3.9 1.5 9.5% 16.2% .301 81 123 -0.4 Jeff Farnsworth
Trey Cochran-Gill 5.6 6.0 1.1 14.0% 13.0% .297 76 132 -0.5 Gary Wagner
Matt Milburn 4.8 2.4 1.8 6.0% 11.9% .296 74 135 -0.5 Heath Totten
Norge Ruiz 5.3 3.4 1.9 8.3% 12.8% .300 71 142 -0.9 Juan Sandoval

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2021 due to injury, and players who were released in 2020. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Finnish industrial death metal fourth-wave ska J-pop band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR. ZiPS is assuming that the designated hitter will continue in force in 2021; if it does not, there will be widespread minor adjustments across the board come April.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article, or get angry at Dan on Twitter or something.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Jack
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Jack

Great write up! Only one comment – Machin was a Rule 5 pick so he had to stay on the big league roster last year. He definitely could have used a stint in the minors though.