Brandon Moss Needs to Swing Away If A’s Want to Win World Series


It was a refreshing sight to see Brandon Moss smash his 24th home run of season on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. The majestic, high-arching homer to right field was Moss’s first in 39 games, and something Oakland Ahtletics fans are hoping becomes a regular thing in the final games of the season.

Since Moss’ last home run on July 24th, he has been mired in a slump that saw his batting average drop 27 points. During that stretch, Moss was hitting a paltry .163 with four extra-base hits and 50 strikeouts.

As for what caused the slump, Chris Mitchell at Fangraphs has an interesting take.

Mitchell writes that Moss has been taking more pitches than usual.

He wrote:

"“Moss’s slump has also coincided with a change in his hitting approach. Moss appears to have gotten a bit more passive at the plate, swinging at way fewer pitches both inside and outside of the strike zone.This new-found passivity took a turn for the extreme once the calendar turned to August, when his O-Swing% and Z-Swing% fell to 27% and 65%, respectively — both around six percentage points lower than his career norms.”"

While the slump was noticeable in late July, it was greatly exaggerated the moment Yoenis Cespedes was shipped to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for ace Jon Lester, which took effect on August 1st. Moss’ slump, which could be argued began July 4th, became the driving plot point behind the “A’s are pressing offensively without Cespedes” storyline.

Maybe Moss is trying too hard and not swinging at pitches in fear of making a mistake, but only Moss knows what’s going on inside of his head.

Mitchell also analyzes the possibility that pitchers are approaching Moss differently when he’s at the plate.

In response to this idea, Mitchell wrote:

"“The new swing profile is something that’s recently changed, making it the obvious culprit for Moss’s drop-off in production, but we shouldn’t immediately rule out the possibility that pitchers have changed the way they’re approaching him. It could just be that he’s swinging at fewer pitches because he’s getting fewer pitches to hit. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though, as Moss’s zone breakdown from August looks nearly identical to what it was over the season’s first four months. For whatever reason, Moss just isn’t swinging as often as he used to.”"

Regardless of the reasons for the putrid August, for the A’s to be successful down the stretch they need Moss swinging instead of taking pitches.

Throughout his career, Moss has been successful attacking early in the count. He is a career .343 hitter when putting the ball in play on either the first pitch, when he is ahead 1-0 or 2-0 in the count or behind 0-1.

Of Moss’s 90 career home runs, he has hit 33 of them on either the first or second pitch of an at-bat. For the sake of comparison, Coco Crisp has hit 40 of his 117 career home runs in three- or four-pitch at-bats.

This season hasn’t been any different for Moss, as well. 13 of Moss’ home runs have come in those situations noted above, and he is hitting .369 in those spots with 41 RBI.

As for Moss’ home run against Chris Young that snapped his homer-less streak? It came, as expected, when Moss was ahead 2-0 in the count.

With just a handful of games remaining in the 2014 regular season and a playoff berth on the line, the A’s need Moss to rediscover the approach that made him an All-Star this season. If Moss does this and the rest of the offensive dominos fall behind him, then there is no stopping the A’s from accomplishing big things in October.