Third Base Help: Moustakas, Arenado

You’re at the point where you need to start filling games played, you need warm bodies in your lineup to keep your head above water while you’re trying to stay in the hunt for whatever prize it is that your league has agreed upon. Third base has seen it’s share of ugliness recently. David Wright is out with injury. Pablo Sandoval is hurting and has a .291 slugging percentage over the last month. Evan Longoria is hitting .185 since July 1. Pedro Alvarez has a .250 on base percentage in his last 25 games. Of course, I’m not saying you should bench Longoria, but there are a variety of reasons why there are many of you out there looking for answers at the hot corner. And there might be a couple.

I’ve written before about Mike Moustakas, so forgive me if you’re sick of hearing his name. But right now, Moustakas is owned in basically half of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, which means, well, he’s not owned in roughly half of the other leagues. And you might want to own him. Why? Over his last 30 days, Moustakas has hit .293/.352/.500 and it’s not all BABIP either as that registers at .308 (and spot-on with his xBABIP to boot). He’s hitting for power (.207 ISO), he’s taking his walks, he’s not striking out much.

What he is, however, is hurt. He strained his calf apparently and who knows if that’ll keep him on the shelf for a few days or what. But come on, Mike — it’s your calf, named after a cuddly little baby cow. Be a man. Get out there and rake.

One of the knocks on him over the last couple of years is that his uppercut style swing has produced an inordinate number of infield flies, and that certainly was happening this year to a great degree. We are only half way through August, so beware the sample, but his monthly splits are looking pretty encouraging:

April 20.0%
May 13.3%
June 18.2%
July 19.2%
August 10.0%

Is it possible that the uppercut has been worked on? Maybe. Here’s a gif from a piece Jeff Zimmerman did last year on Moustakas’ swing issues:


And here’s a recent swing from 2013:


I’m no hitting coach, and I wouldn’t say these two swings are fundamentally different — like the difference between Jack Perconte and Barry Bonds — but it does seem like he’s not dipping that back elbow as badly as he did in the recent past. But it’s just two swings on pitches not in the same location, so who the hell knows. But regardless, he’s producing much like like folks expected he would based on his pedigree.

Much more sizzling than Moustakas is Nolan Arenado, who for some unknown reason appears to be widely unknown. He’s owned in about 17% of both ESPN and Yahoo leagues. Thus, I’m proclaiming 83% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues as patently stupid.

Arenado might be on the fortuitous side of lady luck right now, but over the last month he’s delivered a .353/.385/.494 line. During that time span, he’s hit almost 27% line drives, and he’s starting to look a heck of a lot like the guy prospecting types raved about for the last few years. He’s not likely to tip the scales in your home run category, but should you happen to own one of the injured or ineffective players listed above, at a minimum, he’s a capable replacement in the short term.


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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

16 Responses to “Third Base Help: Moustakas, Arenado”

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  1. Bobby A. says:

    I thought Moustakas was hurt. I heard he was in a walking boot today.

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  2. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    No love for Brett Lawrie? He’s hitting .337/.394/.573 in the second half and he’s eligible at both 2B and 3B.

    Guess who’s back?

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  3. EmptyTheBench says:

    “But right now, Moustakas is owned in basically half of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, which means, well, he’s not owned in roughly half of the other leagues.”

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    • majnun says:

      Remember though, it’s those owners that are “patently stupid”

      Patently stupid. This trend towards insulting the people they are theoretically helping is pretty disappointing.

      The next podcast that finishes without calling the listeners “retarded,” “idiotic,” or “brain dead,” will be the first


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      • Michael Barr says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        Patently uninformed? Unenlightened? With a hug?

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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Yeah, there really aren’t 11 better 3B than Arenado right now. I have Gyorko, Rendon, Lawrie and Carpenter right now, or else I would be patently stupid not to pick him up.

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  4. paul dreyfus says:

    What about Yan Gomes? Qualifies at 3B in Yahoo (as well as C, 1B) and has nearly 900 OPS, and looks like Francona is using him in almost every game. His LD/GB/FB splits and BABIP make him look like a more promising investment than Arenado with his very high BABIP.

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    • Michael Barr says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Yep. Good call. His value is really at C, so i left him alone. Same w Prado, whose value is at SS.

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      • paul dreyfus says:

        Would you value Arenado over Gomes: I’m afraid that lots of Arenado’s recent success is luck driven (400+ BABIP in August), while Gomes’s peripherals look good and in line with career (900 OPS in AAA for Yan)

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  5. Paul says:

    I see two identical swings from Moustakas, and have seen no major swing changes from him since he got to KC, except his balance at first was awful. His problem has always been swinging at the pitch on his hands. He stopped doing it at the end of ’11 and flourished. He wasn’t doing it so much in the first half of ’12, then started swinging at both the FB on his hands and everything else in the second half. This year, he reported to ST fat and out of shape. He is noticeably out of shape this season, he is also swinging at everything again. This adjustment is entirely within his control. You seem to be arguing that suddenly he has made it in the past two weeks.

    So here you have an out of shape, dumb (at the very least bullheaded), hacktastic, injured 3B. Buy low candidate? Sure, why not.

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  6. binqasim says:

    I had a chance to trade for Brett Lawrie but I decided not to because he was struggling mightily. Anyways, picked up Arenado recently so no complaints yet.

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  7. Mario Mendoza says:

    Arenado’s been hitting at a high line drive rate all year. I’ve been waiting for this hot streak. He’s also throwing in some walks for you to dream on 2014.

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  8. Hyperbolic Assclown says:

    I will have you know that I learned to hit at the Jack Perconte Sports Academy and I turned into such a good hitter that I spend most of my time reading Fangraphs.

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