Brandon Moss has wielded an immensely potent bat since joining the Athletics’ lineup in June of 2012. Between 2012 and 2013, he hit a remarkable 146 wRC+, and clubbed a homer once every 15.7 PA’s, placing him third in baseball behind Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera over that span. Moss kept up the hot hitting to start the 2014 season, as well. The 30-year-old 1B/OF/DH posted a 162 wRC+ in the season’s first two months, further establishing himself as a key cog in one of baseball’s most potent lineups.
But Brandon Moss hasn’t been himself lately. Since his last home run on July 24th, he’s only managed three extra-base hits, resulting in a laughable .168/.317/.198 batting line. Moss’s slump has also coincided with a change in his hitting approach. Moss appears to have gotten a bit more passive at the plate, swinging at way fewer pitches both inside and outside of the strike zone. This new-found passivity took a turn for the extreme once the calendar turned to August, when his O-Swing% and Z-Swing% fell to 27% and 65%, respectively — both around six percentage points lower than his career norms.
Moss’s decision to lay off more pitches has unsurprisingly lead to a spike in both his walk and strikeout numbers, but it’s also resulted in his power completely flat-lining. Moss has basically been Adam Dunn without the power these last couple of months. That’s a pretty terrible hitter, and is part of the reason why the A’s went out and got the real Adam Dunn to help their sputtering offense.
The new swing profile is something that’s recently changed, making it the obvious culprit for Moss’s drop-off in production, but we shouldn’t immediately rule out the possibility that pitchers have changed the way they’re approaching him. It could just be that he’s swinging at fewer pitches because he’s getting fewer pitches to hit. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though, as Moss’s zone breakdown from August looks nearly identical to what it was over the season’s first four months. For whatever reason, Moss just isn’t swinging as often as he used to.
It’s not entirely clear what’s spurred Moss’ sudden reluctance to swing the bat, but all indications are that it’s done a number on his offensive performance. Unlike the Brandon Moss that — up until recently — could be counted on for a wRC+ north of 130, this latest iteration seems to be letting a few too many hittable pitches float down the heart of the plate. And based on what’s transpired over the last month or two, Moss’s best bet is probably to re-discover the more aggressive approach that’s worked so well for him in the past.
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