It was a surprise when Mike Moustakas signed with the Cincinnati Reds, with Eugenio Suarez already in place. While things have changed dramatically since then, with a Universal DH put in place, that’s still unlikely to be the plan for “Moose” (Nick Senzel or Aristides Aquino are the most likely options at DH). Instead Moustakas will step in as Cincinnati’s second baseman, a spot that he could become a dominant force. Just how good could he be? Let’s take a look…
It wasn’t like Moustakas didn’t have any experience at second base, as he made 47 appearances at the position in 2019. That landed him seventh on our list of fantasy second baseman entering the year, ahead of names like Keston Hiura, Ozzie Albies and Jeff McNeill. Here’s an excerpt of what we wrote at the time:
He’s proven capable of hitting for ample power (28+ HR in three straight seasons, including 35 HR in 523 AB in ’19), though a fly ball heavy approach (45.3% in ’19) and continually chasing outside the strike zone (34.0% in ’19) is going to help to limit his AVG (.251 and .254 the past two seasons). If he’s delivering 30 HR/90 RBI that type of average is not going to scare you away, and in Cincinnati there’s every reason to believe that he’ll be able to continue posting those types of marks.
Moustakas has posted a HR/FB of 17.8% or greater in three of the past four seasons, and playing half his games in Cincinnati would only help him maintain that type of mark. Let’s not forget that last season 21 of his 35 HR came on the road, plus these statcast marks all support him maintaining (or improving) his power production:
- Barrel% – 10.3% (league average was 6.3%)
- Exit Velocity – 89.3 mph (league average was 87.5)
- Launch Angle – 17.1 (league average was 11.2)
- Hard Hit% – 40.7% (league average was 34.5%)
The question comes down more to his average, as in a full season it appears safe to assume a 30/90 type campaign (our original projection had him at 33 HR and 95 RBI). Interestingly the flyball-centric approach appears to be the only negative in the outlook. He has power, showed more of a willingness to use the entire field in 2019 (29.0% Oppo%) and is able to avoid strikeouts (15.8% career mark).
You do have to wonder if opposing pitchers will start throwing him more breaking balls, considering his struggles against sliders (.206 AVG) and curveballs (.229 AVG) a year ago. Of course he also slugged 11 HR against those pitches, and a simple improvement against fastballs (.248 AVG, .485 SLG) is all he needs.
Considering he hit .254, courtesy of a .250 BABIP, last season just a little bit of luck in a sprint of a season could turn him into a .270 hitter or better.
Slotted into the middle of the lineup with plenty of power and the potential to post a better average, what exactly is there not to like? While he was seventh entering the season, would it be shocking to see him leap to fourth in the short season (over Ketel Marte, Whit Merrifield and Eduardo Escobar)? Already part of that tier, Moustakas is a name worth targeting for 2020.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: