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The surprising A's
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Coming into Friday, the Oakland Athletics lead the majors in runs by 10 over the second-place team, and their top two hitters have a combined 11 hits in 62 at-bats.

The big three producers behind this torrid start are Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and Brandon Moss, while Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick have slumped early.

However, as the season progresses, we can expect the script to flip and Cespedes and Reddick to be back in the lead.

Crisp has four home runs this season, and they came in consecutive games from April 5-9. But he has 90 career homers in 4,426 at-bats.

According to FanGraphs, Crisp has a fly ball percentage of 34.8 percent in his career, and a HR/FB of 7.0 percent. This year, he has hit an alarmingly high number of fly balls (48.8 percent), with 20 percent of those leaving the park. Crisp's HR/FB will regress to his career rate, and if he continues to hit this many fly balls, it will have a devastating effect on his batting average.

That's not to say Crisp won't be a reliable fantasy option due to his runs and steals, but expecting him to hit more than 10-12 homers would be foolish. And remember that he hasn't played more than 145 games in any season and is averaging 100 games over the past five years.

The same goes for Lowrie, who is hitting .410 with three homers, eight RBIs and 10 runs. His 97 games with the Houston Astros last year were a career high.

Lowrie has hit 13 line drives and owns a 37.1 percent line-drive rate and an 8.9 percent strikeout rate through 10 games. However, he has a career line- drive rate of 19.8 percent and a strikeout rate of 17.9 percent.

He also has hit fly balls on 49.9 percent of his batted balls for his career, but has a 7.9 percent HR/FB, which explains why his career average is .255.

Even if this new line-drive hitting, low-strikeout having Lowrie is for real, he also has to prove he can stay healthy for more than 100 games.

Moss was a revelation in 2012, hitting 21 homers in just 265 at-bats after going through three different organizations from 2007-11. He has 134 home runs in 3,656 minor league at-bats, so it's easy to discredit last season as a fluke.

Even if you believe in the sudden power display, Moss' .291 batting average last season was absolutely unsustainable. He struck out in 30.4 percent of his plate appearances and had a .359 BABIP.

Like Lowrie, Moss has trimmed his strikeouts early this season, fanning just five times in 35 plate appearances (14.3 K percent). In 5,211 plate appearances as a professional, he has racked up 1,163 strikeouts (22.3 K percent), so it's hard to see how this will last.

Moss would make for a good short-term pickup, however. He has two homers and 10 RBIs over his last four games, and his home runs came in bunches last year.

He hit 11 in 26 games from June 7 to July 14, then had just one in his next 26 games. But he had another nine round-trippers in 27 games from Aug. 19 to Sept. 29.

The trio of Crisp, Lowrie and Moss has surprised fantasy owners in the season's first two weeks, but it's important not to buy into drastic career makeovers for any of them.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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