by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
A torn ACL ended Mike Moustakas’ 2016 campaign seemingly before it could truly get started. He played in 27 games, and despite a .240 batting average he did show some things that should have us excited for the upcoming season. Does that make him a can’t miss third baseman? Absolutely not, but there’s reason to believe that we could finally see the full breakout of the 28-year old.
Obviously he’s not likely going to maintain the power he showed last season (7 HR over 104 AB), but he’s seen his HR/FB steadily rise since 2013:
- 2013 – 6.9%
- 2014 – 9.4%
- 2015 – 11.2%
- 2016 – 19.4%
The number in 2015 was even higher in the second half (7.5%/14.6%), further helping us to buy into the power development. While we wouldn’t necessarily bank on a 30+ HR season (nor would we project him to that type of mark), is it something that’s unfathomable? He hit as many as 36 HR in a minor league season (2010) and added 34 doubles and 1 triple to go with his 22 HR in ’15.
While we wouldn’t call it likely, it’s realistic.
Even with a poor line drive rate (18.7%), his numbers indicate a much better BABIP than he displayed before getting hurt in ’16 (.214). His 37.4% Hard% would’ve placed him among the Top 35 in the league, if he had been able to maintain it, which alone tells us an increase is coming.
Even if you don’t want to buy into his 5.8% SwStr% from last season, the previous two years he was at 7.5% and 7.1%. He owns a career 15.5% strikeout rate (12.4% in ’15, 11.5% last season), and there’s little reason to think that the number is going to suddenly balloon.
An improved BABIP + a solid strikeout rate? Sounds like a .270+ hitter, with the potential for more. In other words, don’t let last season’s poor number cloud your judgment.
Obviously we are fairly high on Moustakas heading into the season. He should add RBI/R as well, giving him almost the total package (he’s not about to steal a lot of bases, though how many 3B are). It would seem like .265/20 is a floor expectation, but the potential is there for the breakout to finally come (.290/30). That makes him a player to buy wherever possible.
Source – Fangraphs
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|