I’m probably in the minority but I would have preferred it had been Mike Moustakas dealt for pitching instead of Wil Myers. Before starting in about how Myers has yet to accomplish anything at the big league level keep in mind that Moose has just a .301 on-base percentage and 90 OPS+ in 979 plate appearances. I think concerns about his plate discipline are justified. I’m sure he’ll improve but I believe Myers will have a more productive career.
Moustakas started off hot last season and looked like he was going to live up to his potential. On May 15th he was hitting .310/.371/.540 but then went into a slump that encompassed the rest of the season. He hit .224/.278/.380 from May 16th on. Though he clearly didn’t, it seemed like he popped up every other at bat. Luckily he never took his struggles out onto the field where he remained a defensive stud all season. That’s probably one area where he’ll always best Myers. But I imagine the amount of people who hope he becomes the next Joe Randa number in the zeroes. Meaning, above average defense or not, his value ultimately lies in his bat.
You guys know my shtick by now, I’m a comp addict, I enjoy looking to the future by looking at the past. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t think Moose will outperform Myers over the long run, but I do believe he’ll have a fine career. So I fired up the play index machine to see how players with similar age 23 seasons fared for the rest of their respective careers. I usually do these searches by OPS+ but I changed it up today and instead looked for players with 18-22 home runs and an OBP of less than .300. Not counting Moose, PI spit out four such seasons.
Chris Davis – 2009
21 HR, .284 OBP
Davis was fantastic in 2008 when he hit .285/.331/.549 as a 22 year old rookie. He was unable to carry that success over into 2009 as his OPS+ fell from 128 to 85. He totaled just 346 plate appearances over the next two seasons hitting an uninspiring .238/.295/.361 in the process. Davis rebounded at 26 this past season with Baltimore where he hit .270/.326/.501 with 33 home runs.
Juan Encarnacion – 1999
19 HR, .287 OBP
Encarnacion also had success as a 22 year old rookie posting a 134 OPS+ in 175 plate appearances. Like Davis, he was unable to carry that over into his age 23 season. What’s interesting about that season was that he never posted a higher slugging percentage or lower on-base percentage again. At 24 he hit .289/.330/.433 but hit only 14 home runs. At 26 he hit a career high 24 home runs and at 27 put up career bests in doubles (37) and RBIs (94). For his career he hit .270/.317/.441 with a 97 OPS+.
Matt Williams – 1989
18 HR, .242 OBP
I was reluctant to add Williams because of the significant difference in OBP but ultimately decided to because Moose’s career could end up very similar to Williams’ when all is said and done. There are several similarities that influenced my decision. Like Moose, Williams was a power hitter who seldom walked. He was also a fantastic defender who ended his career with four Gold Gloves. Did I mention he too was a first round draft pick? I adore this comp.
At age 24 all Williams did was hit 33 home runs while driving in a league leading 122 runs. He put up a 123 OPS+, which was good, but not as good as the 129 he posted at age 25 when hit 34 home runs. After a miserable age 26 season he became an elite hitter and at ages 27-30 posted a 144 OPS+. He averaged 32 home runs during those four seasons. Williams finished his career with a .268/.317/.489 slash line, 113 OPS+, six 30+ home run seasons and ten 20+ home runs seasons. It’s not outrageous to suggest that Moose could match or better those numbers.
Rico Petrocelli – 1966
18 HR, .295 OBP
Petrocelli is as close comp-wise as you can get. His career numbers, specifically his .300 OBP and 90 OPS+, after his age 23 season are identical to what Moose has produced thus far. He put up a .330 OBP, 17 home runs and a 113 OPS+ at age 24 but a chronic elbow problem saw his numbers nose dive at 25 (.292 OBP, 12 HR, 96 OPS+). I’ve mentioned before that age 26 is the sweet spot in Royals history and that holds true to this list as well. Three of the four comps had their best home run season at that age, Petrocelli included. He hit 40 home runs that season while also putting up career bests in OBP (.403) and OPS+ (168). I’d be curious to know what changed in his approach, because after having never walked 50 times in a season before, he drew 98 that year. He hit 29 and 28 home runs the next two seasons but then his power all but disappeared. From age 29 to the end of his career he hit just 53 home runs. He finished his career with a .332 OBP, 108 OPS+ and 210 home runs.