Here He Comes to Save the Day; Mighty Moss is on His Way
Steve Eby | On 18, Mar 2015
For the Indians fans that have been searching for another powerful stick in the middle of the order over the past couple of seasons, your hero may have finally arrived.
The Tribe traded for the powerful first baseman/outfielder, Brandon Moss, from Oakland this offseason—a move that has surprisingly flown somewhat under the radar. Perhaps the reason for the downplay is that Moss, 31, continues to recover from a hip injury that plagued him for most of the second half of the 2014 season.
Prior to injuring his hip, Moss was in the middle of his most productive season as a Major Leaguer. Selected to his first American League All-Star team in July, Moss was batting .268 with 21 homeruns at the break and sustained the injury soon after. Although he still finished with a career-best WAR of 2.6, the Athletics downfall from the top of the American League to second place in the AL West and second Wild Card spot was in no small part due to Moss’ nagging injury. The ailing Moss finished the regular season with a .234 batting average, 25 homeruns and 81 RBI.
Even after the injury occurred, Moss still made his presence felt on the A’s biggest stage of the season. Oakland’s loss to the eventual AL Champion Royals was in no part Moss’ fault. The lefthanded slugger blasted two homeruns and drove home five of the Athletics’ eight runs after getting a cortisone shot earlier in the week. The pain-free Moss again showed just what he is capable of when all is well—a spectacle that should have all Tribe fan’s excited.
In exchange for the slugger who will hit in the middle of Terry Francona’s order, the Tribe sent the buried, young infielder Joe Wendle to Oakland. Wendle had little-to-no chance of making the Indians 25 man roster in 2015 and was far down the infield depth chart in the Tribe organization. The trade was a no-brainer for the Indians as they dealt for a position of need from a position of depth. Assuming that he stays healthy, Moss will provide the added punch that the Indians have been coveting over the past couple of seasons.
Moss has steadily improved each year since breaking into the league in 2007 with Boston. He played for Terry Francona’s squad until the 2008 trade deadline, when he was dealt to Pittsburgh as a part of the three-team swap that sent former Indian Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Bay to the Red Sox. Moss spent parts of 2009 and 2010 with Pittsburgh before signing a one-year deal with Philadelphia and then eventually signing on with the A’s for 2012. It was in Oakland that a 28-year old Moss finally got some regular playing time and he started to thrive.
Moss impressed immediately in Oakland by knocking 21 homeruns and batting .291 in just 84 games in 2012. He followed up his breakout performance by becoming a regular in 2013 and batted .256 but eclipsed 30 homers for the first time in his career. Moss also drove home a career high 87 runs that season. Last year, Moss was on pace to shatter his career bests in nearly every offensive category before getting injured.
Defensively, Moss has spent half of his career Major League games at first base, but has also played 147 games in left field and 195 in right—the position he will likely see the bulk of his playing time at with the Indians. Moss can be viewed as below average defensively, as he posted a -0.5 dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) last season and has accumulated a -4.6 dWAR throughout his career. In fact, the only season in which Moss was measured as “above average” defensively was during his lone season in Philadelphia where played in just five games and measured at a 0.1 dWAR.
When the Indians made their trade to acquire Moss, however, defense was likely not the reason for their interest. Early returns have been impressive, as Moss’ mighty bat blasted homeruns in both of his first two spring games as a member of the Tribe. Mighty Moss should fit in nicely in the middle of the Tribe’s order as they look for their newest superhero to lead them back toward the postseason.
Photo: John Locher/Associated Press