The KC Royals have been bitten by the injury bug in the last week where three of their key players suffered injuries. Fans may rightly be concerned that their hopes for a third World Series appearance in 3 years may be in jeopardy. However, the Kansas City Royals faithful can relax with respect to their injured 3rd baseman.
The KC Royals will be without Mike Moustakas for the rest of the season. A collision with Alex Gordon against the White Sox on May 22nd resulted in a torn ACL which means Moustakas likely won’t be back until spring training, 2017.
One of my editors, John Viril, as proposed 6 possible trades the Kansas City Royals could make to replace Moustakas at 3rd base and Alex Gordon. I however pose the question: Is Moustakas production worth spending anything to replace him?
2015 was by far the best offensive year of Moustakas’s career where he posted a slash line of .284/.348/.470. Moustakas also hit 22 HR’s, drove in 82 runners, and had a nice offensive WAR (wins above replacement) of 3.8.
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Defensively, however 2015 was Moustakas’s worst full season with the KC Royals. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) takes into account arm strength, accuracy, range, etc. and puts a number of runs saved by that player above an average player. According to fangraphs, in 2012 Moustakas had a UZR of 15.8 while in 2015 it had fallen to 1.5. Basically Moustakas was an almost average 3B in 2015. In fact, Moustakas’s UZR has fallen every year since that 2012 season.
As a baserunner, Moustakas has been near or below average in every single season. Again 2015 was his worst season where he had a BsR of -5. The BsR is the number of runs a player has generated relative to the average player. In other words, Moustakas’s base running ability was 5 runs below average.
Total WAR takes into account a players offensive and defensive ability to determine exacly how many wins a player is worth above a AAAA replacement player. In 2015, Moustakas’s Total War was 3.8, which is ranks 13th among 3rd baseman. So if you think about it, Moustakas is right near the median WAR for 3rd basemen among all MLB teams.
Another major issue is that 1 or 2 WAR 3rd basemen are a dime a dozen, while 3 WAR+ 3rd baseman are either untouchable, or they would cost so much it isn’t really worth it just for an additional win. My guess is with Cuthberts stellar defense and aggressive base running, as a 3rd base regular, he would be worth at least 1.5 WAR and maybe as much as 2.5 WAR.
The other issue is that while it is impossible to quantify Moustakas’ intangibles like field presence, locker room leadership, and chemistry with the Kansas City Royals, those things can’t really be replaced via trade anyway. So as hard as it may be to accept, sometimes the best action is inaction.