Let’s play a little numbers game to start things off, shall we?
Player A: 204 PA, .222/.324/.420, 9 HRs, 11.3 percent walk rate, 30.4 percent strikeout rate
Player B: 236 PA, .220/.309/.439, 13 HRs, 11.0 percent walk rate, 38.1 percent strikeout rate
Player A would be Brandon Moss, first baseman (and occasional) right fielder of the Oakland Athletics. Player B is the guy whose spot on the team Moss essentially won, as he’s since been traded — Chris Carter, now with the Houston Astros.
As far as numbers go, though, these two players are actually pretty similar. And if the Athletics thought the latter was expendable (for a very useful Jed Lowrie, to be fair) due to his low-average, high strikeout power-only game … well, that doesn’t say a whole lot of positives about the former, does it?
Maybe there was a reason why the team never really committed to Moss as the full-time player at first base after all, even if he was having the mother of all breakouts with 21 homers in 296 PA and a .954 OPS.
It looked for a while like he was going to be able to follow it up in 2013 too, but after storming out of the gate with a .295/.398/.477 start through his first 103 PA that was bolstered by a sky-high .400 BABIP, Moss has been essentially a non-factor at the plate since.
Sure, he managed to hit three home runs in May, but even that wasn’t enough to save him from a .152/.262/.333 line after his BABIP came falling back to earth to .200 along with a 18.6 percent line drive rate (23.7 in April). Making matters worse was that Moss’ penchant for strikeouts was absolutely Carter-esque, as he whiffed 30 times in 84 PA, good for a 35.7 percent rate.
He’s no longer whiffing so much these days in early June, but having hit just safely out in two of his last 13 games going into Monday, having just drawn two walks in that span … well, now the A’s have the problem of his diminishing walk rate to deal with too, along with a .125 average over 17 PA in June.
Perhaps this was always the expected value that Moss would have provided for the A’s, but with reigning AL Rookie of the Month Nate Freiman already making a push for his spot on the team and free agency looming in 2014, Moss will have to show that he can be more than just Chris Carter with less power before the goodwill earned from his tear last season is all but buried as a mirage.