Mike Moustakas has a fantastic minor league resume, one that has always excited me from a fantasy perspective. It’s not often you find a young player who combines Moustakas’ home run power with his sub-20% strikeout rate.
It’s not been the smoothest transition to the big leagues, though. Hitting 20 homers in your age-23 season is nothing to scoff at, but Moustakas did that with a .242 average and the worst strikeout rate he’s ever posted in his professional career (20.2%). Combine that with his low 16.4% line drive rate and ridiculously high 17.6% infield fly rate, and you begin to see a talented player who just had a difficult time consistently making good contact.
We still expect a lot from one of the Royals’ best young offensive weapons, and I still believe his minor league profile speaks volumes about the kind of player he can develop into, but it’s going to take some serious strides in year three for Moustakas to become a reliable starting third baseman in standard fantasy leagues.
At a Glance
Neutral: R, RBI, SLG, OPS
Weaknesses: BA, SB, OBP
Best-case scenario: Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
Likely scenario: Will Middlebrooks (BOS), Dayan Viciedo (CHW), Nelson Cruz (TEX)
Worst-case scenario: Delmon Young (PHI)
Mike Moustakas 2013 Fantasy Projection
I could see Moustakas finishing 2013 with numbers ranging anywhere from .240/20/70 to .285/28/95. For the most part I’m confident in his ability to hit for power as he’s always been a fly ball hitter and last year’s 9.0% HR/FB rate is completely repeatable, but his fantasy value will come down to how much bad contact he can avoid.
It’s not a stretch to expect improvement in his second full season, but I’d caution you against expecting those borderline .300 averages we saw from him in triple-A in 2010 and 2011. Just three of the 148 players who registered 500 plate appearances last year had an infield fly rate higher than Moustakas’ 17.6% mark (Erick Aybar, Desmond Jennings, Jimmy Rollins), and over the last two years only Brendan Ryan‘s 20.7% rate is higher than Moustakas’ career 18.8% rate. For him to even get near league average would represent a major improvement.
The good news is that few people really expect Moustakas to hit for a good average this year, and that means he’s probably being properly valued (and maybe even a little underrated??) with his current ADP of 181.0 on Mock Draft Central.
You’re best off targeting Moustakas in shallow leagues where failure is an acceptable (though unfortunate) outcome or in leagues of greater depth where the rest of your roster could be described as “safe” or “boring.”