Can Brandon Moss Quiet Tribe Fans’ Cries for Power Bats?

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Progressive Field Favors Moss’ Power Stroke

About this time of year every year, as players report to Spring Training in Goodyear for the first full squad workouts, “That Guy” resurfaces to point out the lack of a right-handed power bat among camp attendees. That story has changed little this season; the Tribe added no impact bat from the right side this offseason. However, one thing has changed for Tito and company, and that is the presence of Brandon Moss and his impact bat.

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Yes, Moss bats from the left side. But, to the surprise of “That Guy,” being left-handed is not a bad thing, especially at Progressive Field. The reality is that Progressive Field is much friendlier to power from the left side than the right side. The high wall in left and short porch in right are really all the evidence needed to support this claim. However, we can take it a step further.

In 2012, Baseball America took hitter performance at each MLB Park from 2009-2011 and turned out some data. Progressive Field had the most devastating difference between lefty/righty home run rates of any park: Lefty batters prospered in Cleveland (11th highest home run rate), while righty batters cursed the 19-foot wall in left field (28th highest home run rate).

Right-handed power bats are great in theory, but playing in Cleveland lends itself to left-handed power strokes. Jim Thome and new baseball operations assistant Travis Hafner can attest to that. Not to mention the fact that Moss hit 21 homers in the first half of last season on his way to an All-Star game appearance while playing in the Coliseum, a wasteland for left-handed power production. The Oakland Coliseum was ranked as the 25th hardest park for lefties to hit for power based on Baseball America’s home-run rates. Moving from the 25th hardest park to the 11th should boost Moss’s power output substantially, making a 30 homer season a reasonable expectation after he blasted 21, 30, and 25 over the last three seasons in Oakland.

Moss was brought into the fold in exchange for infielder Joey Wendle to hit for power. The move to Progressive Field, coupled with a healthy hip, could bring a career year for the veteran. He will get plenty of at-bats, especially given his ability to play left field and first base as well as DH, even if he is not done rehabbing his hip by opening day. Look for Moss to be a stabilizing force in the middle of the Indians lineup in 2015, and for the power numbers of Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes, and Jason Kipnis to benefit from his presence.

By seasons end, perhaps even “That Guy” will agree that a right-handed power bat is far from a necessity in Cleveland. Brandon Moss will look to keep him quiet as the season draws near. If he can repeat the two homers he blasted in the 2014 Wild Card game in a Tribe uni come October, there will be no debate.

Statistics via Fangraphs

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