Brandon Moss will play for a new team in 2015, the Cleveland Indians. The 31 year old takes a power lefty bat with him and will hope to offer a fourth straight season of significant power for his home team. Moss saw his performance tank in the second half of 2014 though, with a lot of those struggles blamed on a hip issue that eventually required surgery (he is fully expected to be ready to go on Opening Day as a report a couple of weeks ago suggested that his recovery is going smoothly). Is Moss an underrated asset heading into the 2015 season, or should you be worried about his health, and more directly, his performance?


2002: Drafted in the 8th round by the Boston Red Sox. Appeared in 42 games at Rookie ball batting .204 with no homers. 

2003: At Low-A he hit .237 with a .720 OPS. Hit seven homers and stole seven bases in 65 games.

2004: Spent 132 games at Low and High-A ball. Hit 15 homers while driving in 111 runs. Hit an enormous .353 with a .931 OPS. 

2005: Really slumped in full time work at Double-A. In 135 games he hit .268 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs. Only posted a .778 OPS.

2006: As a 22 year old at Double-A he appeared in 133 games. Moss hit .285 with 12 homers and 83 RBIs. His OPS was under .800 at .796.

2007: Spent 133 games at Triple-A. He hit 16 homers, drove in 78 and socked a career best 41 doubles. He hit .282 with a .834 OPS

2008: Saw action in 43 games at Double-A hitting eight homers with 30 RBIs. Also scored 29 times while posting a .874 OPS. 

2010: In 136 games at Triple-A for the Pirates' organization Moss hit .266 while recording 20 homers for the first time. He hit 22 big flies while driving in 96 runs.

2011: With the Phillies he hit 23 homers with 80 RBIs in 124 games at Triple-A. His OPS was .877.

2012:  As a member of the Athletics organization he saw action in 51 games hitting 15 homers with a .952 OPS. 

TOTALS: .283/.355/.474 with 134 homers, 612 RBIs and 550 runs scored in 3,656 at-bats over 10 seasons. 


2007: Picked up 29 plate appearances for the Red Sox. Hit .280 with a .379 OBP.

2008: Played for the Sox and Pirates. Saw action in 79 games. He hit .246 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 236 at-bats.

2009: Appeared in 133 games for the Pirates though only picked up 385 at-bats. Hit just seven homers with 41 RBIs and 47 runs scored. Batted a mere .236.

2010: Twenty-six big league at-bats was all he could produce with the Pirates.

2011: The Phillies gave him six big league at-bats.

2012: Moved to the Athletics and blew up. Only had 265 at-bats but thought he was Babe Ruth. He batted .291 with 21 homers, 52 RBIs and 48 runs scored in a tremendous half season of work. 

2013: Had his best season to date. Here are the career bests he reached: homers (30), RBIs (87) and runs (73). His average dipped to just .256 but he still posted a .859 OPS.

2014: Played more than ever before though his production fell from '13. Moss hit just .234 with a .772 OPS though he still hit 25 homers with 81 RBIs and 70 runs scored. In December he was acquired by the Indians in exchange for second baseman Joey Wendle. Moss then signed a 1-year, $6.5 million deal with the Tribe.


Moss has it. 
Let's discuss. 

How many major leaguers have hit at least 20 homers each of the last three years? Moss is one of the 20 who have pulled off the trick. 

As a minor leaguer Moss hit 20 homers twice, but never 25, in a season. 
He hit a home run every 27.3 at-bats.

As a major leaguer Moss has hit 20 homers three times, once hitting 30, in a season. 
He's hit a home run every 20.8 at-bats.

However, there is some downside here. Moss has seen his homer rate slow.

2012: One homer every 12.6 at-bats
2013: One homer every 14.9 at-bats
2014: One homer every 20.0 at-bats

Moss has also seen his HR/F ratio dip.

2012: 25.9 percent
2013: 18.8 percent 
2014: 14.8 percent

Totally fair to point out that his hip was jacked during the second half last season and that contributed to him hitting just four homers over his last 57 games. Still, the trend the last three years, can't feel good about that can you?

I should also not that while his batting average is identical against lefties and righties (.248), that Moss's power is more easily on display against righties. Hardly a shock for a left handed swinger.

Moss has hit one homer every 28.9 at-bats against lefties in his career.
Moss has hit one homer every 19.5 at-bats against righties in his career.

Should also not before moving on that the Oakland is a bad place to hit. Last season the Park Factors for Oakland showed their home park to be the third worse for left-handed home run hitters (according to Fangraphs). The situation should be much more conducive to the long ball for Moss in his new home in Cleveland where the park was nine percent better than the league average in 2014 for left-handed home runs hitters. 

Something that will also aide Moss' power assault is his extreme fly ball tendencies. The last three years nearly 50 percent of all his batted balls have gone into the sky. Think of it. Jose Abreu had a 31 percent fly ball rate last season which is only 60 percent of the mark that Moss is tossing out there. Power production shouldn't be a problem for Moss if he's healthy.

Alas, all those fly balls result in a very poor outlook for Moss' batting average. It's virtually impossible to have a fly ball rate of 50 percent and to produce a batting average over .280, let alone .270. 'But Ray, Moss hit .291 in 2012.' True, but it was completely driven by an unpredictable and likely unrepeatable BABIP spike. Moss owns a BABIP of .299 for his career. The last two season that mark has been .301 and .283. All three of those numbers are league average and what we would expect to see given Moss' overall game at the dish. What was the mark in 2012? Try .359. Without a surge like that again - and the overwhelming cavalcade of data suggests that ain't happening - Moss will struggle to be a league average performer in batting average. The strikeouts don't help either. He's averaged 147 the last two seasons despite an average of just 471 at-bats the last two years. 

The lack of hits has also limited Moss in the runs scored category. The last two years he's averaged 28 homers but only 72 runs scored. He simply doesn't get on base enough. Moss has a .335 OBP the last two years, slightly ahead of the league average of .320. Given his approach he would be a much more valuable offensive performer if he took some more walks. At least he's seen a slight uptick in his walk rate the past couple seasons.




We're still waiting for the Indians to do something, with Nick Swisher being dealt making a lot of sense (it could also be David Murphy heading on his way out of town). Moss is likely to see some time at first and designated hitter, but the main thrust of his work will be as the right fielder it would seem. Coming into the year he qualifies at first base (67 games) and outfield (90 games), and that certainly gives his value a boost. You also have to figure he plays the overwhelming majority of games if he's healthy.


I'm gonna say it. I'm not a huge fan of the 31 year old. You hear all the time, from virtually every source this spring, that power is so hard to find. Yes power is down. But that doesn't mean you should necessarily elevate flawed players solely because they have pop. Moss has seen AVG/OBP/SLG the last two seasons, hasn’t even it the league average the past two seasons, and he never steals bases. With lingering concerns about his hip dogging him a bit at this point, I'm not reach for Moss in any setup this season. Even last year's numbers might be too much to expect from the Georgia born slugger.

10 team lg: Not really interested. A .250 hitter with 25 homers does nothing for you in this format. 

12 team lg: Slightly interested. I'd want him to be a reserve bat if I could, but someone will likely take him before that point. That hip better be healthy or he'll be just another guy.

15 team lg: Interested, especially because of the ability to slot him in at first or in the outfield. In a format of this size his lack of speed and batting average are less of a concern.

AL-only: Buy. Power, positional flexibility, a better home park. The issue is the hip. Other than that, nothing to warn against him, other than overpaying which you should be careful not to do. This guy isn't going to explode in any meaningful way in 2015.