The Oakland Athletics’ first baseman, Brandon Moss, had a fantastic first half to the 2014 season; he was elected to his first All-Star appearance of his eight-year career.
Before the All-Star break, Moss had a batting line of .268/.349/.530 as well as 21 home runs and 66 RBIs. However, since the break, Moss has seen a serious decline, resulting in very poor numbers – a batting line of .189/.308/.261 with just two long balls and 12 RBIs and it’s only getting worse. In his last 20 games, Moss is hitting .182 with no home runs and only four runs batted in.
Moss has gone from a fantasy monster to a player who may not be worthy of a roster spot in a matter of a few weeks. So, the question remains, is it time to drop Brandon Moss? Let’s discuss.
To start, let’s take a look at a few advanced stats. Moss’ BABIP (batting average on balls in play) has seen a slight decrease in the second half of the season; it was .301 before the break, and has fallen to .279 since. This means that although he has been unluckier in the second half, it’s a small enough drop that it doesn’t solely account for his struggles.
Next, let’s examine what happens when Moss puts the ball in play. In the first half of the season, just 8% of Moss’ batted balls ended in an infield fly. However, since the break, that number has more than doubled, to 16.1%.
Another interesting statistic is that the fly balls Moss hits are not leaving the park at the same rate that they were in the first half. Before the break, 18.8% of his fly balls were home runs. In stark contrast, that number has fallen to less than a third of what it previously was – just 6.5%.
While all these numbers sound bad, it only gets worse. When he isn’t putting the ball in play, he’s been striking out far too often. For his career, Moss has struck out in 25.7% of his plate appearances. After the All-Star game, Moss has been set down on strikes 41 times, or in 31.5% of his plate appearances.
To top all of these terrible numbers off is the fact that the A’s have grown tired of seeing Moss struggle. Lately, (three of the last five games) Moss has not been in the starting lineup.
It looks as if the A’s may end up playing Moss exclusively against right handed pitching, and for good reason. Throughout his career versus right handed pitchers, Moss strikes out 24.8% of the time, averages a home run every 19.22 at bats and an RBI once every 6.17 at bats – against lefties, those numbers fall to 29.4%, 28.42 and 6.43 respectively.
After seeing all these numbers displaying how poorly Moss has performed in the second half, it may seem like a good idea to drop him in favor of someone performing better, however, don’t be too hasty.
Historically, Moss has been a very good hitter in regular season games played in September and October. Moss has more RBIs in September/October than any other month. Also those two months sport his second best batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and walk rate.
In shallow leagues (eight teams or less), dropping Moss should be fine, considering there should be enough high quality hitters on the waiver wire to replace him. In any league bigger than eight teams, instead of dropping Moss, it may be better to bench him until he turns it around.
Although he has been very bad, don’t rule out all the success Brandon Moss had in the first half. If he can get hot, even for just a week or two, he will be of significant value in the fantasy baseball playoffs.
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