Mike Moustakas Signs with Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Baseball Impact
The baseball community is rejoicing for the Moose, Mike Moustakas, after signing a four year, $64M deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. After receiving a combined $12.5M over the past two years, Moustakas has finally gotten paid. In the most recent major signing prior to Moustakas, we examined the most important aspects of a player changing teams in relation to fantasy baseball. We will do the same with Moustakas.
Moustakas moves from a well-above-average hitter’s park to the best ballpark for homers in all of baseball. They call it the Great American Launchpad for a reason, as FanGraphs rates Cincinnati’s home venue comparably to Miller Park for home runs, and there are a couple other metrics in the industry that show the Great American Ballpark is actually a better park to smash dingers in.
Realistically, it doesn’t matter much for Moustakas. He hit seven more homers on the road than at home last season, despite having just 22 more plate appearances on the road. In 2017, he hit a bunch more homers on the road, but he played in one of the worst offensive environments in Kauffman Stadium. After hitting 101 homers over the past three years in a variety of different parks, we can determine with high certainty that Moose is a lock for 35 homers, barring major injury.
The Reds ranked 12th in the NL in runs scored and wRC+ last year, largely due to the underachievements of Joey Votto, Jose Peraza, along with the back injury to Jesse Winker. For all the hype around Christian Yelich and superstar rookie Keston Hiura, the Brewers finished just ninth in runs in the NL and three percent below the MLB average in wRC+. With Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain aging, along with the departure of Yasmani Grandal, it’s fairly easy to make the case that Moustakas is moving to a better lineup.
Peraza has been non-tendered to make room for Moustakas, giving the Reds a homer-happy 3/4 combination between him and Eugenio Suarez. If Nick Senzel and/or Winker can stay healthy for an entire season, and the Reds go after a shortstop like Didi Gregorius in free agency, Moose could be in line for a 35 homer/90 run/100 RBI season. Let’s not jump the gun on that just yet, however.
Divisional and League Strength
Moustakas stays in the same division as last year, giving him some consistency and a solid floor. There is definitely some good news here, given that he will not have to face Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, or Sonny Gray. Instead, he gets to face Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, and Adrian Houser. That’s a much less intimidating trio. Overall, the NL Central has several above-average starters, but he will get to play in hitter’s parks more often than not.
Moose’s projection does not change much, given the consistency in going from Miller Park to the Great American Ballpark, relatively similar lineups, and staying in the same division from last year. I’m not worried about him playing second base full time, given that he performed well at the keystone last year.
Both Steamer and Depth Charts have Moustakas projected for more plate appearances than I do. Moustakas has averaged 605 plate appearances over the past three seasons, and his season high in plate appearance was 614, way back in 2012. But, I have Moustakas meeting or exceeding the projection systems across the board, with a noted increase in RBIs. Moustakas should convert his RBI opportunities at a league-average rate, at the very minimum. Using this rate, Moustakas could clear 100+ RBI in 2020. Moose has an early ADP near pick 125. Given that we know where he is headed, I would expect to see him get drafted right after pick 100 going forward.