Brandon Moss Does Only One Thing, But Does It Well

If there’s any tool on this site I truly love, it’s the “last calendar year” sort on the leaderboards. For example, if you head over to the batting leaders and sort by wOBA over the last calendar year, you’ll get Miguel Cabrera & Chris Davis at the top, as you’d expect… but you’ll also see a pretty surprising name crack the top 20 hitters with at least 500 plate appearances: Brandon Moss. In the top 20!

Just look at the names behind him to see how impressive that is, because he’s beating out Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Prince Fielder, and Carlos Beltran, among others. But Moss is only owned in about half of ESPN leagues, and barely more than a quarter in Yahoo. Have we all missed something?

Moss, 30 in three weeks, is the perfect example of  what the Athletics do best: find a guy off the scrap heap and manage to extract real value from him. He was an 8th round pick by Boston way back in 2002 before heading to Pittsburgh as part of the Manny Ramirez deal in 2008, then signed with Philadephia for 2011 and Oakland for 2012. When Moss signed with the A’s, he was headed into his age-28 season with a career line of .236/.300/.382 with 15 homers in 749 plate appearances; in 689 times up with Oakland, he’s crushed 41 homers to go with a .263/.334/.522 line.

Still, he doesn’t get a ton of respect in the fantasy world, despite power always being a difficult skill to find and his being eligible both at first and the outfield. It’s not entirely hard to see why, mainly because using him effectively requires some extra added effort on the part of the daily fantasy player. That’s because he simply cannot hit lefty pitching…

BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
v RH
.258
.331
.498
.830
v LH
.164
.239
.311
.550

…and since the Athletics have the massive Nate Freiman (.388/.852 RH/LH OPS split) around to crush southpaws, that means that Moss finds himself squarely in a platoon situation. It wasn’t quite so pronounced last year, but it was still a sizable difference.

So not playing every day hurts his value, as does the fact that he offers little other than power. He’s clearly not adding value on the bases, with a -3 net stolen base total for his career, and as his BABIP has dropped from the clearly unsustainable .359 mark it was last season to amore realistic .288, his batting average (.241) and OBP (.316) aren’t doing you any favors.

He’s also had an incredibly streaky season, as this chart will show, with a fun three-week span starting in late May where he had just three hits — all homers:

moss_2013_ops

If it sounds like I’m trying to talk myself out of liking Moss, I’m not, though it’s clear to see that this is a player with some real flaws. He’s got a high strikeout rate, a huge platoon split, and only one real tool. You can’t just pick him up, put him in your lineup, and forget about him, because he’ll either kill you against lefties or just not play against them at all.

Still, you don’t get into the top 20 in wOBA over a full year by accident, either. While his HR/FB is down from last year’s absurd 25.9%, this year’s 16.8% is still pretty good, good enough to keep him within the top 25 of non-suspended players. It’s not going to make him a star, because there’s enough that he doesn’t do well that will hold him back. But that wOBA ranking is certainly impressive, and if the Athletics can look past his flaws to appreciate the one thing he does do well — hit righty pitching for big power — so can you… as long as you’re in a daily league.



Print This Post

Mike Petriello used to write here, and now he does not. Find him at @mike_petriello or MLB.com.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Juan B
Guest
Juan B

Just like your mom ;)

wpDiscuz