Yesterday on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City one of my favorite radio hosts, Carrington Harrison, said something to the affect of, “I will never understand why baseball doesn’t value Mike Moustakas.” I think most Royals fans feel this way. Moose is awesome. He hit 38 HR last season and is everything you want from a guy in the clubhouse, but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for Moose’s lack of a market around the MLB if you know where to look.
I’ve kind of already written this article before. This past offseason I said that I was of the opinion that Kansas City needed to stay far away from a long-term deal with Moose. The goal of any rebuild should be to get younger and cheaper and Mike Moustakas accomplished neither of those things. That was the Royals reason for staying away from something long-term for Moose, but that doesn’t explain contending teams staying away from Moose.
In the aforementioned article that I wrote this offseason, I mention several things that hamper the value of Mike Moustakas.
- His OBP in 2017 was .314. Eric Hosmer’s BATTING AVERAGE was .318. Mike Moustakas combined had 195 hits/walks/IBB/HBP. Eric Hosmer had 192 hits. Yes, Moose hit 38 HR, he also made far too many outs in 2017.
- The xStats don’t favor Moose. The expected number of home runs for Moose last season was between 27-28, compared to the 38 that he actually hit. There was concern among teams about the longevity of Moose’s success in the power department.
- Can we stop pretending that Mike Moustakas is a good defender? His defensive value rating in 2017 was -4.4. Moose makes all the plays that he’s supposed to make, but not much else. His “range” rating was -7.8 in 2017, according to FanGraphs. He doesn’t get to many balls that aren’t hit right at him.
It probably feels like I’m taking a dump all over Mike Moustakas right now, of which I may be unintentionally doing. That is not my intent. I love Mike Moustakas. He’s been one of KC’s three best players this season and was a key cog in the 2014-2015 playoff runs. But there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for his lack of a market as we’ve seen above.
With that being said, he is still a very productive major league hitter. He’s been worth 1.4 fWAR through the Royals first 74 games of the season and has slugged 14 HR as of last night. He’s on pace to hit another 30 HR this season and put up another 3-win season. There will be contending teams that could use a guy like that in their lineup. They just aren’t going to pay some kind of premium price to get it. Let’s compare Moose to another guy who was traded already this season.
Player A: .263/.319/.480/.800, 14 HR, 17 2B, 113 wRC+, -0.2 defensive value rating at 3B, 1.4 fWAR, 1,6 rWAR
Player B: .310/.375/.387/.762, 2 HR, 10 2B, 3 3B, 113 wRC+, 4.3 defensive value rating in the LF/CF/RF, 1.7 fWAR, 1.3 rWAR
By nearly all accounts, Player B in this example has been as valuable or more valuable than Player A this season. Player A is, of course, Mike Moustakas. Player B is Jon Jay. Jon Jay has been legitimately as good or better at baseball than Mike Moustakas this season. Jon Jay fetched a AA reliever and an 18-year old lottery ticket in a trade earlier this season. Mike Moustakas is not bringing back a king’s ransom.
Mike Moustakas is a fine baseball player. He’s a better human being. There will be teams that seek out his help on their way to a playoff run this summer. They just aren’t going to give you one of their top prospects in return. If they do, then great. But you must start viewing Royals players in the same light that the industry sees them, otherwise you’re going to be really disappointed when the Royals don’t get much in return for Moose this summer.
Photo Credits: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports