Brandon Moss became a guy worth paying attention to in 2012 when hit 21 home runs in only 84 games. Moss became an attractive name to target and a trendy late round pick last season when his time sharing partner Christ Carter was traded to the Astros. Moss saw an increase in playing time and hit 9 more home runs in 200 more at plate appearances to join a group of only 14 players to hit 30 home runs. Moss split time with Daric Barton as the main bat on the left side of a platoon that saw Nate Freiman get the lion's share of at bats against lefties. The A's resigned Barton and Nate Freiman is back so the question becomes whether or not Moss can continue to produce with a reduced number of plate appearances.
The nice thing about platoon players is that they are put in positions to succeed. They see time mainly when matchups play to their strengths and often post strong rate stats as a result. This can be a great strategy for big league teams when they have the right personnel but it usually doesn't work out so well for fantasy owners. Platoon rate stats have less impact on fantasy scoring because of the reduced number of plate appearances the players receive. Also, most fantasy teams do not have benches big enough or roster movement policies that allow teams to fully take advantage of players in platoon roles (not to mention we don't get to decide who plays and when).
With increased playing time in 2013, Moss showed a lot of improvement. His walk rate reached almost 10% and, although still very high, he cut his strikeout rate by almost 3%. According to PITCH f/x, Moss swung at fewer pitches out of the strike zone and made more contact last season than in previous years. His swinging strike percentage decreased by two percent and he drastically improved against changeups - important to note because changeups usually give opposite arm hitters trouble. An increase in fly ball rate last year and a general lack of speed point to his BABIP hovering around league average and put his batting average somewhere closer to 2013 than the .291 he posted in 2012.
Moss's power is for real. His ISO dropped 40 points, down to a paltry .267 which ranked 3rd among qualified hitters. According to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, the average "True Distance" of his home runs was 403.7 feet - ahead of players such as Paul Goldschmidt, Edwin Encarnacion and Prince Fielder. Also, 20 of the 30 home runs he hit we classified as "Plenty" or "No Doubt" meaning they cleared the fence by at least 20 feet. Moss has a fly ball rate of 46.7% over the last two seasons and a 21% HR/FB rate. He ranked 30th among all hitters in terms of average fly ball distance in 2013 which suggests that the HR/FB rate is no fluke.
It's tough to project how many plate appearances Moss will get in 2014, but I fully expect him to take advantage of whatever he is given. Having said that, he is a risky pick in anything less than a 12-team mixed league and, even then, he belongs in a corner infield, 4th or 5th outfield or utility slot. I think 20 homers is a decent floor for Moss but what he will deliver in terms of runs and RBIs might leave something to be desired. These are stats of opportunity and situation and they're difficult enough to project without throwing in a time sharing wrinkle. He won't kill you in average but shouldn't really hurt you either. He offers next to nothing on the base paths. There is a value play here if other owners are too concerned but don't get caught with Moss as your starter at first base.
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