FACTS/FLUKES: Moustakas, Hosmer, Calhoun, Stroman, Neris

How will Moustakas fare in Cincy? ... Mike Moustakas (2B, CIN) had another fine season, connecting for 35 home runs, and this time, he ended up with a four-year deal. He has been both consistent and productive over the past few seasons. Is there reason to expect anything different in Cincinnati?

Year   PA  HR/xHR    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  HR/F  xHR/F
====  ===  ======  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  =====
2017  598  38/29   .272  .279    6/83   35/20/46  27   107  124/119   18%   14%
2018  635  28/29   .251  .264    8/82   34/20/46  26   124  116/130   13%   13%
2019  584  35/31   .254  .278    9/81   36/19/45  25   117  127/129   18%   16%

Moustakas looks like a pretty safe power source:

  • His power metrics are both strong and consistent, and he gets the ball in the air at a high rate. His Hard Hit% was right around the 60th percentile for the second straight year, and he's now moving from a home park that is +10% for LHB HR to one that is slightly more friendly at +16%.
  • His batting average has fallen short of xBA the past few seasons, but it's not too surprising that his hit rate has been low, given his high fly ball rate. His average is more likely to go up than down, but the change in fortune probably won't be too drastic.
  • He made a pretty substantial improvement in his O-Swing% for the second straight year, which helped lead to a career best walk rate. 

Moustakas has provided pretty similar value in each of his last four full seasons, and most signs point to more of the same with his new team. The power numbers beneath the surface support this level of production, and while Miller Park was hitter-friendly, his new home venue will be even a little better. Our current projection of 36 home runs and a .262 batting average looks like a very realistic expectation for Moustakas, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise if he got to 40 homers for the first time.

 

Hosmer not as safe as it seems? ... Eric Hosmer (1B, SD) got back over the 20 home run plateau in 2019, but his skills revealed some red flags. Let's dig in, and see what potential owners should be expecting from him in 2020.

Year   PA  HR/xHR  SB    BA   xBA  vL+  bb%/ct%  GB%  h%  HctX/PX/xPX  HR/F  xHR/F  
====  ===  ======  ==  ====  ====  ===  =======  ===  ==  ===========  ====  =====
2015  667  18/24    7  .297  .290  101    9/82   52%  34   116/102/94   15%    20%
2016  667  25/26    5  .266  .263   89    9/78   59%  30   109/97/89    21%    22% 
2017  671  25/21    6  .318  .298  101   10/83   56%  35    99/96/65    23%    19%
2018  677  18/21    7  .253  .266   73    9/77   60%  30    98/90/68    19%    23%
2019  667  22/22    0  .265  .253   78    6/74   56%  33   102/89/77    21%    21%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2H 19 317   9/9     0  .225  .228   72    5/67   55%  30    97/93/78    17%    17%

Hosmer owns a boring and declining skill-set:

  • He dropped his ground ball rate in 2019, but it was still the second highest rate among all qualified batters. A consistently high xHR/F shows his history of high HR/F is mostly deserved, but all the grounders puts a cap on the power ceiling.
  • He had generally provided some additional value on the bases with five to seven steals per season until 2019, when he attempted just three steals, and was caught every time. It's tough to count on more than a couple stolen bases from the 30-year-old.
  • After batting .302 with a .280 xBA during the first half of last season, his contact rate, and in turn, his batting average, crashed in the second half. 
  • He has fared very poorly vs lefties two years in a row now, putting up a .527 OPS in 2018 and .600 in 2019. It's fair to wonder if he'll lose some playing time against southpaws in the near future.
  • Hosmer's plate appearance totals have been very high and extremely consistent over the past several seasons.

Hosmer had another solid, yet unspectacular year in 2019, contributing 22 home runs and 99 RBI for his owners. However, there are some concerns in his skills, as the strikeouts were way up late in the season, he's not hitting LHP anymore, and he was a non-factor in the run game. Sheer volume has boosted Hosmer's counting stats and value in the past, but he may have a hard time keeping his plate appearances up unless he turns things around against lefties. He'll probably deliver about 20 home runs and a decent average again, but there's not much upside at this point, and probably a little more downside than most will realize.

 

Are Calhoun's power gains real? ... After connecting for 16 home runs during the second half of 2018, the power carried over for Kole Calhoun (OF, ARI) in 2019, as he easily set a career high with 33 home runs. But a .232 batting average kept his value modest, and the strikeouts piled up down the stretch. Now in Arizona, where should expectations be set heading into 2020?

Year   PA  HR/xHR  SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX  PX/xPX  HR/F  xHR/F
====  ===  ======  ==  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  ======  ====  =====
2015  686  26/25    4  .256  .248    7/74   42/23/35  31    90  109/116  16%   15%
2016  672  18/23    2  .271  .261   10/80   38/22/40  31   115  100/113   9%   12%
2017  654  19/18    5  .244  .248   11/76   44/21/35  29    98   85/91   12%   12%
2018  551  19/25    6  .208  .240   10/73   43/21/35  24   120   98/132  15%   20%
2019  631  33/31    4  .232  .259   11/71   41/22/37  27   104  131/121  23%   22%

Calhoun earned the power production, but such big jumps are often tough to repeat:

  • All of his power metrics were well above average in 2019, including a 73rd percentile Hard Hit %. It doesn't appear that he got lucky with his HR/F, but moving from a home stadium that is +25% for LHB HR to one that is -8% will make it extremely difficult to pull it off again.
  • With the jump in power came a career worst contact rate. Strikeouts were really a problem late in the season, when he had a 65 percent contact rate in August and 62 percent in September. 
  • His hit rate was pretty low for the second consecutive season, and his BHQ xBA and his Statcast XBA of .247 show that he deserved better in the batting average category.
  • He makes some minor contributions on the bases, but his sprint speed slipped for the second straight year, and his Spd score of 62 was the lowest of his career. Don't count on more than a few steals from the 32-year-old.

Calhoun displayed some pretty nice power in 2019, but a repeat may be too much to ask. The HR/F will be tough to maintain, particularly in a park that isn't as friendly for hitters, and his contact woes over the final two months put into question potential batting average improvement. Calhoun should remain a viable power source in many formats, but his 2019 season was probably as good as it gets.

 

Can Stroman do it again? ... Marcus Stroman (RHP, NYM) rebounded from a disappointing 2018 season, and put up a 3.22 ERA in 32 starts between Toronto and New York in 2019. His mark did jump to 3.77 in his 11 starts with the Mets, but where should expectations be set heading into 2020?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  Ball%/SwK   Vel  GB%  H%/S%  HR/F  xHR/F  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  =========  ====  ===  =====  ====  =====  ===
2016  204  4.37  3.55  2.4  7.3  3.1  36%/9.6%   92.4  60%  31/68   17%   17%   125
2017  201  3.09  3.65  2.8  7.3  2.6  37%/10.2%  93.3  62%  31/80   18%   17%   117
2018  102  5.54  4.02  3.2  6.8  2.1  38%/9.3%   92.4  62%  33/62   14%   19%    88
2019  184  3.22  4.20  2.8  7.8  2.7  38%/10.6%  92.5  54%  31/78   13%   12%   104
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2H 19  80  3.28  3.99  2.9  8.8  3.0  39%/11.1%  92.3  49%  34/79   14%   11%   116

Stroman missed more bats than usual during the second half of 2019:

  • After posting a career worst Ctl in 2018, he did a better job of limiting the walks in 2019. Though his Ball% is typically a little below average, his track record, which includes a 2.6 career Ctl, suggests he should put up a similar mark in 2020. 
  • He threw both his sinker and slider 35 percent of the time and the cutter on just 22 percent of his offerings during his 21 starts with the Jays. Following the trade to the Mets, he threw 43 percent sinkers, 30 percent cutters, and 21 percent sliders, and increased his SwK on the cutter to 15 percent (from nine percent).
  • Post-trade, he recorded a 23 percent K% and 11 percent SwK, both of which were higher than any full season of his career.
  •  His ground ball rate is normally very high, but fell off quite a bit in 2019. Despite the live ball and increase in fly ball rate, he still kept his HR/9 under 1.0, as he suppressed hard contact far better than usual. After ranking in the bottom eight percent in Hard Hit % (per Statcast) in each of the past three seasons, he was in the 60th percentile in 2019.

Stroman put his ugly 2018 campaign behind him, and had a fine year in 2019, while showing off increased swing and miss stuff down the stretch. As it stands now, Stroman looks like a good bet for another sub-4.00 ERA. He'll need to minimize the hard contact again, and if he leans more on the slider (17% SwK, never an ISO over .100) and cutter, he may even tap into some unforeseen upside, making him an intriguing mid-round target.

 

Is Neris reliable ninth inning option? ... Hector Neris (RHP, PHI) reclaimed the closer role in April of 2019, and ended up saving 28 games, along with a sub-3.00 ERA. As the 12th closer off the board in NFBC drafts over the past month, is he worth the cost?

Year  Sv  IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl/Dom/Cmd   Ball%/SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  HR/F  xHR/F  BPV
====  ==  ==  ====  ====  ============  =========  ====  ========  =====  ====  =====  ===
2016   2  80  2.58  3.22  3.4/11.4/3.4  37%/15.9%  94.1  42/25/34  29/83   14%   13%   160
2017  26  75  3.01  4.07  3.1/10.4/3.3  33%/16.6%  94.7  33/23/44  32/81   10%   14%   136
2018* 12  68  4.14  3.90  3.2/13.3/4.1  35%/19.7%  94.6  31/24/45  34/72   23%   21%   151
2019  28  68  2.93  3.33  3.2/11.8/3.7  36%/18.0%  94.6  45/19/36  26/80   18%   13%   163
*Includes MLEs

These skills are pretty electric:

  • Neris didn't miss quite as many bats in 2019 as he had the previous season, but his SwK was still top notch, and he whiffed over 32 percent of the batters he faced.  
  • He's relying exclusively on just three pitches, a splitter (65 percent usage in 2019), four-seamer (27 percent), and sinker. He had really been hurt by home runs in 2018 (2.1 hr/9), but throwing more splitters and bumping his ground ball rate up to 50 percent on the pitch helped him post a more respectable 1.3 hr/9.  
  • His Ctl has remained stable, and gives us a good idea of what to expect going forward.

After home runs were such a problem for Neris in 2018, he appeared to sacrifice some strikeouts in an attempt to keep the ball on the ground, and in the park. While he didn't maintain the 37 percent K% from the previous season, he still missed a lot of bats, while cutting down on his home run rate. All told, the skills look pretty sustainable, and now that Neris has a firm grip on the role heading into the season, he looks like a good bet for 30-plus saves.

 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.