Before last season, I had touted Seth Smith as somewhat of an undervalued asset to fantasy baseball players. He was on many of my teams in which the league stretched to 14-plus teams and, for a good part of the season, he was a borderline top 100 fantasy player. He had too really bad months, July and September, which unfortunately brought his overall numbers down.
Another reason for the limited production was that Smith started to lose at-bats against lefties sometime in July, which is understandable – he hit .217 against them in 2011 and is a career .202 hitter against southpaws. However, over his career, he has crushed righties to the tune of .290/.364/.518 with a .228 ISO. At age 29, it’s unlikely that Smith will suddenly learn to hit lefties, but at least he gained more exposed against them last season, giving him a bit more experience and some hope for the future fortune of his lefty-on-lefty battles.
The A’s, who have almost no money to invest into their ballclub until they get a new stadium, aren’t content to throw their hands in the air and give up. They still want to compete and Smith gives them a relatively cheap asset to help that cause. Smith is penciled in as the A’s starting left fielder, but he was pretty horrible defensively for the Rockies last season. In Oakland, however, there is always the option to play him at designated hitter, a position where the young, but greatly unproven Chris Carter, a right-handed batter, is currently slated. Perhaps a platoon between those two is in order, with the right-handed hitting Collin Cowgill getting some looks in left as well.
As a left-handed platoon bat, Smith should put up good AVG/OBP/SLG numbers for the A’s. The one problem when it comes to considering him as a fantasy platoon partner is that he’s leaving Coors Field for the spacious Coliseum. While Smith might lose a few home runs in Oakland, there is a real possibility that he will gain doubles and AVG/OBP due to the fact that he’s not just a slugger, but a line-drive hitter who smacked 32 doubles and nine triples last season.
Ultimately, Smith might not ever come close to becoming a premier fantasy player, but he has the talent to contribute in a platoon role in daily leagues.
With the acquisition of Smith, Josh Reddick becomes the teams’ starting right fielder with Coco Crisp set to start in center. Reddick should get a chance to face both lefties and righties out of the gates, but if he struggles there, the A’s could look to mix in Cowgill a bit more or even give former top prospect Michael Taylor a look. Of the group, Crisp has the most fantasy upside, but is always an injury risk. If your league is too shallow to consider Smith on draft day, at least be sure to have him on your watch list from day one. Over his career, he has typically been a better hitter in the first half than the second half.
Heading to Colorado are two arms: Gillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman. Moscoso found some success in his 128 innings in Oakland last season, posting a 3.38 ERA. Don’t let that ERA fool you, however, he got by with an extremely low .221 BABIP and offers very little strikeout potential to go along with a poor minor league track record as a starter. He also posted a 55 percent fly-ball rate in Oakland, which is highly unlikely to translate well in Coors. Josh Outman also seemingly found success as a member of the A’s rotation, but over a larger sample size than 58.1 innings, his ERA would have likely ballooned over the four mark based on a well below average 1.5 K/BB rate and very little strikeout potential. You can safely stay away from both on draft day.