Is Mike Moustakas the answer for the LA Angels and their third base woes?
From the moment it became clear that Mike Moustakas was going to test the free agent waters after 2017, people began to wonder where he would land.
Obviously, the LA Angels were mentioned as one of the teams that would most likely pursue Moustakas during the offseason. Most long-time Angels fans would tell you that we’ve had a need over at third base since Chone Figgins left for Seattle after 2009. In fact, since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Angels have played 19 different guys at the hot corner.
The guy who played the best?
Alberto Callaspo. That is not a typo.
According to Fangraphs, Callaspo put up 7 WAR across 423 games, hitting .263/.335/.356. Angels third baseman as a group since 2010 have hit .248/.311/.362 and have been worth 17.2 fWAR, which is good for 20th in baseball in that time span. It is pretty safe to say that third base has been an issue for the Halos for basically this decade, but it seems that we finally have a solution in the form of Mike Moustakas.
Well, it isn’t that simple.
Yes, there have been reports that Moustakas’ preferred destination is in fact Anaheim. And as we have already made clear, the Angels have had a need at 3rd base for a long time. But there are many reasons to pump the brakes on the Moose Train.
Last season, Moustakas hit .272/.314/.521, with 38 HR and 85 RBI in 148 games.
Obviously, a third baseman capable of hitting .270 and hitting about 40 HR seems extremely enticing, but there’s more to it than that. 2017 was a record year for HR, with guys like Scooter Gennett and Yonder Alonso hitting 20-25 HR.
More from LA Sports Hub
- Lakers: 5 Players to Target Through Trades to make another championship run
- LA Chargers: Week 8 against Denver Broncos is a must-win
- LA Rams: Jared Goff wants to keep the Los Angeles title streak going
- Lakers Rumors: Los Angeles Clippers interested in Rajon Rondo
- LA Chargers: Justin Herbert wins AFC Rookie of the Month
Moustakas has always had average to above average power, so it’s not that much of a stretch to think that his 38 HR were less a result of a change in mechanics and more the result of a league wide power surge.
His 2.2 fWAR put him at 16th across all qualified third baseman, while the .314 OBP put him at 19th. The reason why I mention OBP is because Billy Eppler has made it a goal to raise the team’s OBP to at least .330, and Moustakas falls short of that number.
In fact, Moustakas has finished a season with a .330 OBP or higher only once, back in 2015.
The Injury History
There is one major blemish on Moustakas’ injury record: the torn ACL he suffered in 2016. This last season was the test to see how he would come back after an injury that severe and he definitely made the most of it.
The only problem is that his defense, which is usually above average, was decidedly below average this past season (-3.1 DEF according to Fangraphs, -0.7 WAR according to Baseball Reference). There is no way of knowing if the defense was a result of being rusty after being out most of 2016 or if he has lost a step due to the ACL injury. Regardless, the knee issue is not something to be taken lightly.
Why, hello, Scott Boras. Nice to see you here.
You and I already know Boras is going to go out there and get as much money as he can get for his clients, and he has only two clients on the Angels (Alex Meyer and Noe Ramirez), so maybe he gives the Angels a bit of a break to establish a bigger presence on the team?
Oh, who am I kidding?
In the end, do I think that Moustakas would look great in an Angels jersey? Yes, and with Trout and Upton already in the lineup, those three together will bring the team some firepower we haven’t seen in a quite a while.
However, I hope the Angels don’t make a mistake like they did with Josh Hamilton or Albert Pujols and hamstring the team’s finance even further. From the sounds of it, Moustakas is going to get 5 years, and that’s fine with me. But anything beyond the $85MM-$90MM range would be questionable in my opinion.
In Billy Eppler we trust.