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Mike Moustakas Player Profile
Mike Moustakas joins the Brewers for a full season this year, re-signing on a one-year, $7 million deal with an $11 million mutual option for next season or a $3 million buyout. Effectively, he is on a one-year $10 million contract. The $3 million buyout is simply a way for Milwaukee’s financial gurus to defer salary. Moustakas, who the Brewers first acquired at the July trade deadline last year, is trying out a new position at second base. Find out more about his conversion to the keystone, get acquainted, analyze key matchups, and gain other additional insight.
Get Acquainted with Moustakas
Pencil Drawing Courtesy of Desere Mayo
Michael “Moose” Moustakas received his nickname as a spin-off of his last name. He became a popular player with the Kansas City Royals. As time went by, a giant herd of “Moose” fans started chanting, “M-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-S-E” when he came to bat or made a nice play. Kauffman Stadium even sold “Moose” antlers in the gift shop.
Returns to Milwaukee on a Mission
Moustakas rejected a $15 million mutual option with the Brewers at the end of last year to pursue agency. When the free agent market failed to materialize, the Milwaukee’s brass was happy to bring back a quality player, teammate, and quality person. His passion for the Brewers and Milwaukee is evident when he spoke to reporters after re-signing:
“I think we had some unfinished business after last year,” said Moustakas. “This is a great place to play baseball. I’ve got a bunch of friends on this team, it’s a great city, they love the Brewers. I loved playing here last year. It was a lot of fun. We fell a little bit short, obviously, but I feel like this team can get back to where we were at last year and make a push for the World Series.”
Obviously, Moustakas thirsts for more Gatorade moments like this walk-off hit during Game 1 of the NLDS that left Colorado deflated:
Moustakas’ work does not stop at the ballpark. This off-season, he forged a strong bond with Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Mark Attanasio’s son – Mike Attanasio. Together, the four California residents formed the California Strong campaign to assist wildfire and mass shooting victims.
Moustakas’ kindness does not always show in the public spotlight. Sometimes it occurs in day-to-day life. Go back to last year when Moustakas first arrived in Milwaukee. Some young kids recognize him and ask for his autograph. However, they have nothing to write with. Moustakas immediately takes charge of the situation, ripping open a pack of Sharpies in the store, signing the hat, and buying the markers during checkout. He is a solid citizen off the field and the numbers show he’s solid on it as well.
Inside the Numbers
Basic Career and 2018 Stats
Moustakas fancies right-handed pitching and night games. Against right-handers, his OBP comes in 19 points greater and his SLG leaps 43 points higher. This results in a 62-point jump in OPS when facing right-handers instead of left-handers. He also performs better in the evenings. His stat line increases by +.027 BA/ +.017 OBP/ +.043 SLG, resulting in a 60-point higher OPS at night. Maybe Moose is a nocturnal creature after all.
Moustakas by NL Opponent
Moustakas absolutely loves the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff. No, he doesn’t send them candy on Valentine’s Day. However, he may want to consider doing so. He dominates Pirates pitching with a stat line of .281/.339/.684 for an OPS of 1.023. Five of his seven career homers against Pittsburgh came in his half season with Milwaukee alone.
While crushing home runs seems like an unorthodox way to display affection, perhaps they were just “love taps”. As noted in the table below, Moustakas does not share the same love affair with other Central Division rivals. The rest all rank in the bottom half.
NL Stadium Performance
In the NL Stadium Performance table below, the Central Division lies mostly in the bottom half for Moustakas. His OPS numbers against the NL Central are not shoddy by any means. In fact, it ranges from average in Cincinnati to fairly good in Pittsburgh. He simply performs better in other NL ballparks. However, he does carry a BA of .345 with him when he travels to Wrigley Field. The plate appearances in the table also are a fairly small sample size when evaluating ballpark performance. A full year in the NL Central will reveal just how effective he can be in these stadiums.
Favorite and Least Favorite NL Pitchers
Brewers fans will enjoy seeing three Cubs on the list of Moustakas’s favorite pitchers. Brian Duensing, Yu Darvish, and Jon Lester are three of Moustakas’s top seven favorite NL pitchers to hit. Surprisingly, Duensing and Lester are both southpaws. As mentioned earlier, Moustakas does much better against right-handers. He has definitely earned some bragging rights against Duensing and Lester.
There is an intriguing matchup to watch this year listed in the Individual Pitcher Matchups table: Moustakas vs. Sonny Gray. While Gray is listed as Moustakas’s fourth-most challenging pitcher to face there is more to consider. 15 of Moustakas’s 17 plate appearances against Gray came either at Kauffman Stadium or Oakland Coliseum, both pitcher-friendly parks. Now they will be doing battle at either Miller Park or Great American Ballpark, both of which are favorable to left-handed hitters. Moustakas should be able to improve on his numbers at Great American Ballpark with a larger sample size. However, Derek Anderson, the new Cincinnati pitching coach, certainly gained some insight to pass along to Gray by watching Moustakas hit last year while he was pitching coach for the Brewers.
Moustakas is attempting to play second base for Milwaukee this year. He played shortstop in high school, but he has no direct game experience at second base in Major League Baseball or the minors. However, he did play there some last year during defensive shifts. He also took work there during spring training with the Royals. Royals skipper, Ned Yost, had this to say about Moustakas’s switch to second base:
Ned Yost on Mike Moustakas’ spring fling at second base: “No doubt, he can do it. He took grounders over there all the time and he was fine. I have no doubt he’ll be able to do it.”
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 19, 2019
Brewers fans with a good memory might take that comment with a grain of salt. Yost always came across as an eternal optimist when talking about his players. On the other hand, it is reassuring that Craig Counsell, a former utility infielder himself, also believes it is possible for Moustakas to make the transition.
An interesting thing Craig Counsell just pointed out: The move to 2B asked of Shaw last year and Moustakas this year was a tougher ask in a different era. Not just shifts, but the Chase Utley rule makes it easier today.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 19, 2019
The current plan is to go with Moustakas at second. If the plan falls through, Shaw will be the next man up.
What remains to be seen is how the lineup at second and third base plays out against left-handed pitchers. Moustakas drew most of the playing time at third base last year over Shaw. He also was the preferred option against left-handers simply because Shaw struggled in that area last year. It’s possible we will see Hernán Pérez (player profile) at second base against left-handers, Moustakas or Shaw at 3rd base, and the other moving to pinch-hitting duty for those games.
Moustakas Lengthens the Lineup
Another left-handed power bat lengthens the Brewers lineup against right-handed pitching. Last year, the Brewers struggled in the bottom half of the order, killing a lot of rallies. A full season of Moustakas combined with the free-agent signing of Yasmani Grandal gives Milwaukee two solid left-handed options in the five to seven spots in the lineup. He will benefit from a full season at Miller Park, a stacked lineup to give him more pitches to hit, and Brewers bench depth which allows Counsell to keep Moustakas fresh and sit him against undesirable matchups.
- Moustakas was drafted second overall in the 2007 MLB draft by the Royals. The number one pick was David Price by the Tampa Bay Rays. At number seven, Milwaukee selected Matt LaPorta (the key trade piece in the C.C. Sabathia trade). The Giants took stud pitcher Madison Bumgarner with the 10th selection.
- Moustakas is a huge Los Angeles Lakers fan and owns many of their jerseys. However, according to an interview with Todd Rosiak, his absolute favorite jersey is none other than Milwaukee’s other Greek athlete, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- As a member of the Royals last year, Moustakas hit a solo home run against Milwaukee off of Brent Suter. It proved to be a valuable run as the Brewers lost that game four to five. Thankfully, the Brewers forced Game 163. Otherwise, Moustakas’s good deed for the Royals at the time could have cost the Brewers the division.
Next Milwaukee Brewer Player Profile
Again, this is just one of many profiles in a compilation. The next player profile up is revealed with clues.
- His grandfather played pro football for the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams and even designed their logo.
- His brother used to play for the Atlanta Braves organization as a catcher/1B.
- Some might say he’s religious.
- He is…
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