Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Moustakas was quite the topic among our writers, and quite the focal point for optimism. Aaron Reese had this prediction:
Bold predictions are the kind of high risk/high reward writing I tend to avoid. I like safe bets, comfortable bets–bets that leave me believing I will probably win. I avoid casinos and I write about baseball the way I make life decisions, based on likelihood and probability (Ethics are in there somewhere too).
I prefer projection to prediction. Projection is probability. It tempers optimism and pessimism with data and trend analysis. It provides nice safe bets, where the over/under is never out of control. Basically, projections are perfect for me. Bold predictions are the antithesis of projections. So, if I’m going to break out and make a bold prediction, I may as well go for broke, right?
Mike Moustakas will hit 26 home runs and have a .430 SLG.
Moustakas has been uninspiring at the major league level. Most analysts have given up on him. He’s twenty-six years old with an ever-dwindling OPS. He has only hit 27 home runs in the past two seasons combined. He’s exposed up-and-in. He pops out too much. He can’t hit the other way. But, he has legitimate power.
However, Moustakas has given some reasons for optimism. He swings out of the strike zone less and less as he plays. In the past three seasons, his O-Swing% has dropped progressively, 37.6%, 35%, 33.8%. Since he’s come to the majors, the average speed of home runs off his bat has also increased from 102.3 mph to 106.2 mph. From 2012, his swing-and-miss rate has dropped from 10.8% to 7.5%. His average flyball distance has improved from 279 ft in 2012 to 283 ft in 2014.
If those incremental improvements take the next step (and we ignore the more troubling trends), we’re looking at a real power hitter.
Next: All Moustakas, all the time