The A's slugger came out of nowhere in 2012 to power Oakland's offense, but can he be relied upon again?
Brandon Moss was a huge help to the Athletics in 2012, as well as any fantasy owners who were lucky enough to pick him up during the season. The former prospect came out of nowhere after signing a minor-league deal with Oakland, hitting .291/.358/.596 with 21 homers. In his previous 249 games and 749 plate appearances, Moss had hit just .236/.300/.382 with 15 homers. Which of the two lines can we look forward to in 2013?
In the past, Moss struck out often, but not to a detrimental level. He whiffed 22 percent of the time, and drew walks in another eight percent of plate appearances. He saw 3.8 pitches per plate appearance, a good, but not great rate. He hit into just 12 double plays, but had a tendency to put a lot of balls in play on the ground. Moss has only put up decent lines (in both shorter and longer samples) when his batting average on balls in play is through the roof. That's a dangerous thing to rely on, especially given Moss' approach.
Moss saw little change in his walk rate, but his P/PA jumped to an even four. A lot of these longer plate appearance resulted in more strikeouts, though, with Moss punching out 90 times, for a rate of 30 percent. That's the area of concern for him going forward: Moss hit well in 2012 because his BABIP was .359, helping to make up for the significant number of plate appearances that ended with him finding only air with his bat. Should his BABIP fall in the future -- and it likely will, given .360-ish is pretty extreme, and his home park lowers BABIP -- there could be problems.
There will likely still be power, but the rest of his rates could easily slip. That would leave Moss a much less-effective slugger, both for the A's, and for your fantasy team.
That being said, it's hard to expect him to completely fall apart, given he does have prodigious power. Just know how to value him properly at draft time. For one, most people still don't know about him as a useful piece: he was owned in just 54 percent of ESPN leagues, and 21 percent of CBS. You might not have to go crazy to roll the dice on him at draft time, assuming people are either 1) unaware of him or 2) worried about him (and rightfully so).
You should be fine acquiring Moss in 2013, even if you can't exactly guarantee he slugs near .600 again. If Moss puts up a .240/.310/.475 line, that could be useful for fantasy, depending on if the A's are still scoring runs in bunches or not. It will likely all depend on his BABIP, though: if it's up there like it was in 2012, he can put up star-like offensive numbers. If it's down, though -- and it's very likely it will be -- then he's useful, but not a necessity. Remember that before splurging, as we need to see more of Moss before we know what he is for sure.