St. Louis Cardinals: Is Brandon Moss the X-Factor?
After Brandon Moss was acquired at last year’s trade deadline, he failed to live up to expectations in 2015 that St. Louis Cardinals fans put on him, but that feeling has since exited with his performance thus far in 2016.
When one thinks of Brandon Moss as a player, one might think of his two home run performance in the one-game wildcard playoff against the eventual American League champs, Kansas City. One might also know that he is a prototypical boom-or-bust player who relies heavily on the long ball, while suffering when it comes to striking out. But he has become a stalwart for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016.
It took Moss five years to find true success in the major leagues after bouncing from team-to-team from Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia before landing in Oakland in 2012. In his first year with the Athletics, he hit 18 home runs in just over 80 games.
After that first year, however, Moss had at least 20 home runs in every season during his Oakland tenure. He also accumulated at least 140 strikeouts in his last three seasons with Oakland, so when John Mozeliak traded a minor league pitching prospect for the first basemen/outfielder, he knew exactly what he was getting.
Brandon Moss played 51 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015, getting to the plate 151 times, yet only hit four home runs. This was disappointing since his power was why he was brought to St. Louis considering how awful the offense was last season. Having now appeared at the plate in twice as many plate appearances than in 2015, he has hit more than five times the number of home runs (22).
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Moss’s slash line of .267/.344/.580 is the highest for his career in every category (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) since his first year as part of the Oakland organization in 2012. His WAR is on pace to be a career high as he continues to provide the ability of driving in runs into the St. Louis Cardinals lineup– 54 RBI this season.
His recent surge of four home runs in the span of six games has sparked the St. Louis Cardinals at the right time, after the team struggled against two of the National League’s bottom feeders, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves. His solo home run in the last game of the four-game series against the Cubs this past week proved to be the difference maker as it broke the tie in the eighth inning.
His power has been extremely valuable to this team, especially since Matt Adams went ice-cold after a hot streak. Providing the team a legitimate threat at first base this season has been huge as the team pushes towards the playoffs. With the recent injury to Matt Holliday, it is also nice that Moss is versatile enough to play either of the corner outfield positions if needed.
Moss is only making $8.25 million for this season, so with his 2016 numbers, I expect a pay raise coming to the powerful Georgia native. The St. Louis Cardinals front office has an important decision in whether bringing Moss back is in their best interests.
In my mind, he is 100% worth it, no matter the price tag (as long as it is not ridiculously large). He is a much better option at first base than Matt Adams, and, even if Mozeliak brings back Holliday, a platoon of Moss and Holliday at first base in 2017 may be just what the two need.
Next: Will the real Randal Grichuk please stand up?
As the final month of the season nears, the St. Louis Cardinals desperately need Brandon Moss’s bat to stay hot, while keeping the strikeout numbers low, as they battle for the two wildcard spots with the likes of the San Francisco Giants, division foe Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, and the New York Mets.