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The Red Report 2020 - Mike Moustakas

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Can the team’s record signing put the offense on his back in 2020?

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Fast Facts

  • Born on September 11th, 1988 (31 years old)
  • Attended Chatsworth High School, where he was teammates with former Cincinnati Reds 5th round pick Josh Ravin
  • Opted to sign with Kansas City Royals after being drafted in 2007, forgoing a commitment to attend the University of Southern California (where he would have been teammates with former Reds 1st round pick Brad Boxberger)
  • Also would have been teammates at USC with Shane Boras, the son of his current agent, Scott Boras
  • His 4-year, $64 million contract with the Reds marked the single largest free agent contract ever doled out by the Reds upon signing
  • Nickname is ‘Elk’ or ‘Pronghorn’ or ‘Mule Deer’ or something

Organizational History

  • Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1st round (2nd) of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft from Chatsworth HS (Chatsworth, CA)
  • Signed 1-year, $6.5 million contract with Royals prior to 2018 season
  • Traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jorge Lopez and Brett Phillips on July 27, 2018
  • Signed 1-year, $10 million contract with Brewers prior to 2019 season
  • Signed 4-year, $64 million contract (with team option for 2024) with Reds prior to 2020 season

Career Stats

Scouting Report


Source: FanGraphs

Mike Moustakgif

Projections

Outlook

That nifty GIF a few rows above this shows Mike Moustakas making quite the nifty play moving to his right while playing 3B. If all goes to plan, he ain’t going to be doing that anymore.

Despite having made only 40 of his 1043 career MLB starts at 2B, that’s exactly what the Cincinnati Reds signed Elk Pronghorn Mule Deer Moose to do this winter, giving him the giganto contract he’d sought in free agency in each of the previous two winters in the process. It’s certainly a risk, though at least the early returns on his defense at 2B in his exploratory work there with Milwaukee last year was decently received, and the Reds will hope that their hyper-use of shifting and team defense will help hide any deficiencies the now 31 year old has there.

Defense aside, the Reds are getting a thumper in Moose, a guy who’s career power numbers are solid across the board. Considering that it was a bit of a dead-ball era when he first broke in and that he played in the cavern that is Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City for much of his career, we may even be significantly underrating what Moose can provide with GABP as his home park and the fly-ball renaissance MLB is in at the moment.

Rest assured, Moose has always been a fly-ball prone hitter, and that’s obviously something that has increased in importance in recent seasons. His career rate is 44.5%, and last year’s 45.3% rate was right in-line with that mark. Among the 137 MLB players who got at least 500 PA last year, that 45.3% mark ranked as the 10th best, with the star-studded likes of Mike Trout, Alex Bregman (bang bang bang bang), Anthony Rendon, and Jose Ramirez among the very few names in front of him.

But before you worry that he’s merely a lefty-swinger selling out to hit fly balls into the RF seats - and that the modern game’s proclivity for shifting and strikeouts might sap that - rest assured Moose profiles as quite different than, say, Jay Bruce. Moose uses the entire field in an incredibly proficient manner (as you can see in the spray chart above), and his 29.0% opposite-field rate ranked as the 11th best among those same 137 MLB players last year - and of the 10 names ahead of him, only Adam Eaton and Mallex Smith did so exclusively from the left-side of the plate like Moose.

Beyond that, his 16.8% K-rate ranked well below the 23.0% league-average, so he’s hardly a free swinger. Fact is, he puts the ball in play quite often with a ton of those being in the air, so while that suppresses his BABIP relative to the average player, that certainly means he’s got the chance to blast a lot of dingers. That’s precisely what he’s done lately, too, with 101 total homers over the last 3 seasons, making him one of just 15 players in all MLB to reach that mark.

He’s not a walk machine, nor is he an OBP force. That aspect of his game is merely passable, which is fine provided his power and passable defense remain. That’s what I’m hoping for in 2020, and a full, healthy season could well see him flirt with a 40 dinger campaign - his career-best mark so far is 38. That would mimic his 2019 season, one that was valued at 3.2 bWAR and 2.8 fWAR, and would also plenty justify his salary.