Cincinnati infielder Mike Moustakas brought some pop to the Cincinnati lineup in 2020, as if they needed more! In 45 games, he hit eight home runs, drove in 27 runs and posted a .230/.331/.468 slash line. The batting average left a little to be desired following back-to-back seasons above .250, but the COVID-19 affected season could be to blame for that. Now, it’s not the complete scapegoat for Moustakas, as there are some issues with some of his peripherals from 2020. He was red hot down the stretch, at least in the power department, and that provides optimism for Moustakas in 2021.

He hit eight round-trippers last year, and six of those eight came in his final 74 at-bats of the season! From the graph below, you’ll see the big spike in exit velocity as the 2020 season came to a close.

Despite a slower start, his barrel rate stayed high, but he hit more worm killers than normal. His 0.83 GB/FB ratio was his highest mark since 2016. He has a great home park, so elevating the ball will be key for Moustakas. As you can see below, launch angles against fastballs and breaking stuff are slightly down for the second year in a row.


Now, Moustakas did a better job of staying in the zone overall compared to recent years, leading to a career high walk rate. On the other hand, he did whiff a bit more, leading to a career high in strike rate. Furthermore, he saw more breaking stuff than ever before, and fewer fastballs than ever before. Why? He chases these offerings, and it just so happened in 2020 that when he did chase, he also whiffed more.

When you look at his numbers, especially his strikeout numbers, you’ll see that he was really done in by a rough month of August, and other than that, his strikeout rate was manageable. However, it appears he was a bit lucky. As the 2020 season went on, his strikeout rate went down, but there were some concerning spikes in O-Swing% and swinging strike rate, that didn’t necessarily translate into more strikeouts.

I firmly believe that is the single biggest variable in terms of projecting his batting average for 2021. His launch angle has remained within four degrees in the past four years, and his average exit velocity within one mile per hour in the past three years. What about his barrel rate? That’s hung steady from anywhere as low as 8.6 percent and as high as 10.3 percent since 2016. On the other hand, his strikeout rate was steady prior to 2020’s big rate. If he stays in the zone, doesn’t chase and gets his strikeout rate back closer to where it was in recent years, his batting average will rebound from this past year’s .230 mark.

Projections for Moustakas are all over the place for the 2020 season, but if you need a voice of reason and you’re settling on me for that, bless your heart. However, I’ll speak my thoughts to anyone who wants to listen. He’s in a great lineup with a great home park, and some exploitable rotations in his division. Moustakas should hit around .250 with 30+ home runs and at least 80 RBI. He carries dual-eligibility which is nice, but to maximize value, you’ll want to draft him as your second baseman.

He’s currently the 14th first baseman off the board and the 12th second baseman off the board. However, the key factoid here is that per THE BAT projections by Derek Carty, there are 10 first baseman projected to hit 30 or more home runs, whereas there are just four second baseman projected to reach that threshold. Adding this sort of power, and power upside, to a position relatively devoid of elite power options, gives you quite an advantage at this position.

Overall, his average draft position has remained relatively steady with little shifts over time, but the fact remains that he’s a solid value at his current price. Even if he is a bit below my projections, let’s say to the tune of 25 home runs, 75 RBI and a .240 batting average, at the second base position and around pick 140ish, there’s plenty of room to profit.

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