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Dynasty Building Blocks, Bargain Spotlight: Mike Moustakas

Bargain Spotlight

Mike Moustakas Team: KC Pos: 3B Age: 24

Before we can figure out where Mike Moustakas could be headed as a fantasy third basemen, we need to revisit where he has been and figure out what has been working and what hasn’t been. Moustakas was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1st round of the 2007 amateur draft. He proceeded to be ranked as high as #9 overall by Baseball America after the 2010 season. He earned a promotion to the majors in June of 2011 and has been up with the big club ever since. Here is a quick look at his numbers during his minor league career.

Level

PA

K%

BB%

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

A

549

15.6%

7.8%

.272

.337

.468

.196

A+

530

17.0%

6.0%

.250

.297

.421

.171

AA

298

14.1%

8.7%

.347

.413

.687

.340

AAA

486

14.2%

5.6%

.290

.331

.531

.241

MiLB

1910

15.4%

6.9%

.282

.337

.503

.221

What we can take away from this is that Moustakas doesn’t strike out at an alarming rate but also could benefit from better pitch recognition and plate discipline, which would bump his average walk rate up a bit. He’s always been considered a good contact hitter that can use his short quick stroke to provide power to all fields. Going into the 2012 season, after his rookie campaign, his stock couldn’t be any higher. However, now over half way through the 2013 season, he is owned in barely 25% of ESPN leagues and even though he’s owned in about 50% of CBS leagues, he’s only being started in 33% of them. So the real question is, what has happened since the beginning of the 2012 season to make his value drop that much?

Let’s see if we can try to pinpoint a reason…

Year

PA

K%

BB%

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BABIP

2011

365

14.0%

6.0%

.263

.309

.367

.104

.296

2012

614

20.2%

6.4%

.242

.296

.412

.171

.274

2013

413

14.5%

6.8%

.241

.298

.371

.130

.260

You can see by comparing his pro numbers against his minor league numbers, that his BB% is right on par. You can also see that in 2012 his K% jumped almost 6% but at the same time his ISO jumped as well. This tells me that he sacrificed contact ability a quest to hit for more power. He’s also been plagued by slightly lower than average BABIP, but that wouldn’t have as much impact on his low AVG and OBP. Essentially this table only reveals one aspect of his change from 2011-2013. Let’s check out his plate discipline and see if there is any warning signs there…

Year

O-Swing

Z-Swing

Swing

O-Contact

Z-Contact

Contact

SwStr

2011

35.2%

68.2%

49.4%

76.8%

91.4%

85.5%

7.1%

Avg

30.6%

65.0%

46.2%

68.1%

87.9%

80.7%

8.6%

2012

37.6%

66.7%

49.7%

66.2%

87.1%

77.9%

10.8%

Avg

30.8%

64.7%

46.0%

66.8%

87.2%

79.7%

9.1%

2013

33.6%

69.1%

48.1%

75.9%

88.6%

83.4%

7.9%

Avg

30.8%

65.4%

46.3%

66.7%

87.1%

79.7%

9.2%

Here you can see that he has been consistently higher than average in his Swing% and except for 2012, he has been higher than average in his Contact% as well. One good thing to notice from this table is that his swinging strike percentage is back down to below league average, just like it was in 2011. What all of these numbers tells me, is that Moustakas swings at more pitches outside of the strike zone, but is on par with the league on swings inside of the strike zone, this combined with his above average contact ability leads to me to think that his ability to put the barrel on the ball is overriding his plate discipline on balls outside of the zone. Now, I have one more table to show you, I promise.

Year

Half

K%

BB%

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BABIP

2012

1st

19.3%

7.0%

.268

.327

.490

.221

.293

2012

2nd

21.3%

5.6%

.211

.261

.325

.113

.252

2013

1st

13.0%

6.4%

.215

.271

.327

.113

.228

2013

2nd

18.4%

7.9%

.314

.368

.490

.176

.354

The reason I wanted to show everyone these interesting splits is because I believe that he has gotten back on track and has made the necessary adjustments that plagued him in 2012 and the first half of this season.

To recap: Moustakas has always been a bit of a free swinger, but he shows the above average contact ability needed to keep his strike out rate down, even though he can provide 20 HR upside. When he learns to lay off the pitches outside of the zone and make stronger contact on the pitches that he does swing at, he will be able to reach the 20+ HR, 75+ RBI, and .265/.325/.475 potential that we all saw in him back in 2010.

Blueprint: I would advise any owner in need of a 3B solution to target Moustakas this offseason. Looking at 3B rankings for 2013, there are only a few players with the 20-25 HR and 75 RBI stat line. The one that sticks out the most is Josh Donaldson. Donaldson so far this year has a 19 HR, 77 RBI, and .294/.370/.480 stat line. I can easily envision a similar line for Moustakas next season, but with a slightly lower AVG and less walks, leading to a lower OBP. Moustakas is very high on my post-hype sleeper list for 2014 and I know of two leagues that I’m in that I will be targeting him in this winter.

The Author

Andy Barnes

Andy Barnes

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