The Cleveland Indians are bringing a huge bat into their lineup for 2015. They finalized a deal with the Oakland Athletics that brings 31-year old power hitter Brandon Moss to Cleveland. The A’s received minor league infielder Joe Wendle.
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Prior to being picked up by Oakland in 2012, Moss had been a guy struggling to gain his footing in the majors. He had stints with the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Philadelphia Phillies over a span of five years. In his first season with the A’s, he hit 21 home runs, which nearly matched his career homerun total from those previous five seasons.
From there, he continued to shine as a power threat as he hit 55 home runs in the next two seasons combined. However, with that power came less contact. In 2012, he hit a very respectable .291, but that number dropped to .254 in 2013, and then to a disappointing .231 in 2014. As expected, those decreasing averages also led to more strikeouts (153 in 2014, 7th highest in the American League).
He comes to a rising Indians team that seems to be poised to challenge AL Central powerhouse Detroit and surprise playoff contender Kansas City. If the season started tomorrow, this is how their lineup would look:
C: Yan Gomes
1B: Carlos Santana
2B: Jason Kipnis
SS: Jose Ramirez
LF: Michael Brantley
CF: Michael Bourn
RF: Nick Swisher
DH: Brandon Moss
I am concerned for Moss fantasy-wise. I would not be surprised at all if his home run total is under 20 this year. That lineup is quite talented, but in this era, Moss is getting up there in age. I debate whether he can still compete with the top pitchers in the AL Central: Justin Verlander, David Price (if he doesn’t get moved), Chris Sale, and James Shields if he re-signs with the Royals just to name a few.
In three years with Oakland, Moss hit 56 less home runs against lefties in comparison to right-handers in about 700 less at-bats. That resulted in a decrease in slugging percentage by .111. Of the 20 projected opposing AL Central starting pitchers, 8 are left-handed. Basically, almost half the games against division rivals will be against south paws.
If you play in leagues that score by category, the only possible benefit Moss can have is for home runs. You will suffer heavily in average, and there really is not a lot of potential for runs (less than 74 every season of his career).
For Cleveland, they are addressing a hole in their lineup. I can see a lot of people being excited about Moss’ new playground, but I’m passing on him this year in fantasy.
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