The St. Louis Cardinals traded for a lefthanded power bat last year. Will that bat fully show up in 2016?
Meet Brandon Moss, the guy the St. Louis Cardinals acquired via a trade that sent the beloved, gifted and ultimately untested Rob Kaminsky to Cleveland last July. Moss came over and in 151 plate appearances, he put together a .753 OPS(.409 slugging percentage). Not good or bad. For many Cardinals fans, just not enough to woo their satisfaction.
He struck out 30 percent of the time and showed some pop in September but for the most part disappointed. He didn’t bring much aid to the first base problems that arose when Matt Adams showed up in 2015 without much pop and then tore his quadriceps.
2016 presents Moss the opportunity to avenge his rough 2015 season, where he still cranked 19 home runs, drove in 58 and slugged .407. Basically, slightly less than Jhonny Peralta power wise but not as bad as people think. At the Winter Warmup, Moss claimed that it wasn’t a hip and glute injury that held him back in 2015 but the lack of strength training he was able to do before last year. He had nothing to push off from and if you don’t have a base, a power hitter is essentially swinging with a wiffle ball bat up there.
After hitting 76 home runs from 2012-14, Moss only mustered the 19 last year. Why mention home runs so much? Well, that’s what Moss can provide when healthy. The healthy Moss can top 20 doubles and add a few triples, but he is a essentially a guy who is a lock for 20 long balls. The Cards can use that. They can use a healthy Moss and the secret pop of a Jedd Gyorko.
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All this turmoil over losing a guy like Jason Heyward(who was the cream of the free agent crop) but the Cards started this offseason needing more pop in their lineup. Heyward wasn’t going to suddenly add more pop in 2016. Moss can. That is what is needed here. More pop from more areas in their lineup. Instead of having a flat bench and weak pop in right field and first base, 2016 may be different and Moss can be a big part of that. The man talks like he is trying out for the remake of Rudy, but he does have a bat that carries game changing power. If Adams doesn’t seize the opportunity at first base, Moss can take it and not look back. He has tenure and experience that his younger competitor lacks.
Let’s put it this way. Moss’ nine year average production(via Baseball Reference) is 23 home runs, 75 RBI, with a .450 SLUG. If he can do that in 2016, the acquisition will be a success. If he wasn’t 100 percent when he got here, this season will feature the real Brandon Moss. If his legs are under him, Moss may just surprise you.
I wasn’t a fan of the trade when it happened, because I followed Kaminsky and was looking forward to seeing him pitch in the Majors. I also didn’t like Moss’ splits and his seasonal trend. However, in hindsight, Moss didn’t deserve that kind of preemptive opposition. Flash forward to February, and Moss is healthy and Kaminsky may not even have climbed above Austin Gomber in the Cards system this year.
Before we judge Moss’ ultimate value and the value of that trade. let’s see what he can do in 2016. He may surprise.