There are some players in this game whom you root for regardless of which team you’re on. I became familiar with (actual cinnamon roll) Brandon Moss when he played for the Cardinals in 2016. When the Cardinals did not re-sign him for 2017, I wrote a whole thing about how every team could use Brandon Moss, after which he signed with the Royals on a two-year deal with $13 million guaranteed.
But over the first half of the season, there were holes in Moss’s swing and he was not getting balls past the warning track. As a DH, his job is twofold: put the ball in play and hit homers. In the first half, his performance on those jobs came and went, but the second half looks a lot brighter for Brandon Moss. Sort of.
After having, arguably, his best major league season in 2016, Brandon Moss’s 2017 started out all manner of disappointing. He struck out a third of the time, and with an average below .200, he wasn’t getting the job done. It was like all his power had been tapped, and he only hit ten home runs over the first half.
But he looks a heck of a lot better as we approach the final month of the season. He is walking a bit more, he is striking out a bit less, and he is in the midst of a power resurgence. Royals Manager, Ned Yost, said that “while he acknowledged being confounded by Moss’ funk, he saw nothing that he thought needed fixing other than Moss’ confidence.” And now, Yost looks right, since this second half, Moss got some of his groove back. Take a look at the first-half/second-half splits:
Moss’s half-season performance
The greatest disparity between the first and second half is in his wRC+. This stat weighs overall offensive production, and 100 equates to league average. The numbers above and below 100 indicate how much better or worse a player is compared to that average. Moss’s 69 first half means he was 31 percent below average at the plate, while his current 120 indicate he’s 20 percent better offensively than the average player. First half to second half has been quite the swing.
“Before the last couple of weeks, I’d get to two strikes (and) not to say that you knew it was over, but you knew you probably missed your chance. Been seeing the ball a lot better and have better balance at the plate, so it’s not a panic any more.”
Except, I’m not entirely sure those numbers are sustainable. It appears that Moss is not quite slumping again, but his July and his August are almost completely different from each other. His July totals are bumping up what appears to be an August that is not quite as stellar, but it is also not as bad as the previous half. Check out the monthly splits:
Moss’s monthly splits
The biggest change is in strikeouts and batting average. Brandon Moss has always struck out a lot, though, and that is not going to change. He is a “free swinger” and that can be good, but lots of times it ends with the walk of shame back to the dugout. He is not putting the ball in play as often as he was in July, and that’s contributing to some of this downturn.
However, he is hitting a few more homers. Through three months he hit ten, and in less than two months in the second half, he’s already at eight. That’s why his wRC+ and power numbers did not dip as much as his batting average. I mean, his OPS hardly changed from July to August, but that’s because his ISO jumped from .224 in July to .370.
Because I like Brandon Moss so much I tend to see the good in his production more than the downside. (Come on, look at his smile. How can you not love this guy?) However, the numbers also show that his second-half production is much better than the first three months of the season. Maybe “resurgence” is not quite the word, but Moss has been able to make more of an impact. His power has returned and his home run rate has increased, so hopefully he will have some more moments like this one:
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Audrey Stark is a Contributor at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow her on Twitter @highstarksunday.