Milwaukee Brewers: The All-Star Case for Mike Moustakas

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 09: Mike Moustakas #11 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on June 09, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 09: Mike Moustakas #11 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on June 09, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

In another of our series visiting which Milwaukee Brewers deserve to make it to the MLB All-Star game this July, we make the case for the last of Milwaukee’s stand-out position players so far: Mike Moustakas

The Milwaukee Brewers have several players worthy of making it to the 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland this July.

A few weeks ago, I discussed the case that Christian Yelich has to make it there this summer. On Monday, Keaton Anderson outlined the case for their hot-hitting catcher, Yasmani Grandal.

There’s one more Milwaukee Brewers position player, however, who deserves to make it to the Summer Classic in a few weeks: Mike Moustakas.

It’s been an incredible year for the Brewers second/third baseman. Moustakas was one of Milwaukee’s top gets at the July trade deadline last summer. He was a solid, albeit not spectacular option at third base in his first months on the team, but his availability allowed Milwaukee to add yet another above average bat into their everyday line-up last year.

After re-signing for the team this past winter, Moustakas has become much more than that. He’s spent most of his time playing at second base, a position where Milwaukee entered the season with significant questions around. He’s putting together one of the finest seasons, not just among second basemen, but of any position player in the Major Leagues.

Offensive Stats

Moustakas is having what is, indisputably, his best offensive season to date so far this year.

Moustakas is hitting .280 so far over 284 at bats, a career best. His on-base percentage is a career best .359, and his slugging percentage is also a career best .583.

Moustakas’s OPS of .942, is far and way the best he’s posted in his major league career. His previous best was .835 when he made his second all-star game for the Kansas City Royals in 2017.

Moustakas has hit 22 home runs as well. That total puts him in a tie seven in the Majors entering play on Tuesday, placing him in a tie with perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout.

He is close to the top ten in offensive WAR as well on Baseball Reference. His 2.8 offensive WAR so far this year is the second highest total he’s posted in ANY previous season he’s had, and is significantly outpacing his previous best too (a four in 2015).

Moustakas has been one of the best bats in the majors so far this year. He may be taking advantage of a juiced ball, but he’s also making a concerted effort to beat defensive shifts and make better contact. He’s improved his plate discipline and is making hard contact at a career high rate too. All of this suggests that he’s made strides at the plate.

Defensive Stats

Moustakas has been no slouch on the defensive end of things either. He’s posted a defensive WAR of 0.4 so far this season, an impressive figure when considering that he’s been playing out of his natural position of third base for most of this season.

FanGraphs advanced defensive metrics paint a similar picture as well. Moustakas has been good for three Defensive Runs saved so far this year, one at second base and two at third base. He also grades out near or above average in every advanced metric at third base, and has been around average in them at second.

Moustakas’ defensive versatility has been an incredible asset for the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s allowed them to cover second base until their top prospect, Keston Hiura, is/was ready to take over the position every day. His moving to third to cover for a horribly slumping Travis Shaw may become an even more important factor in the weeks to come.

How He Compares to Others

Overall, Mike Moustakas has been good for 3.2 WAR so far this season on Baseball Reference. On FanGraphs, his total is a bit lower (2.7), but is still very good. That averages out to a better WAR than even Grandal has posted (2.2 on Baseball Reference and a 3.0 on FanGraphs).

Moustakas is at or near the top of almost every offensive category among second basemen. His 22 home runs are two more than the second place second baseman, Arizona’s Ketel Marte. His slugging percentage of .583 puts him second.  His runs scored (49) and his RBIs (48) place him fourth in the majors among second basemen too.

There are only three players in the majors who’ve played considerable time at second base this year and have posted a higher WAR than he has so far: Marte (3.7), Max Muncy (2.9), and D.J. Lemahieu (2.8).

Even if his WAR was just counted among third basemen, he would rank seventh overall and fourth in the National League behind Nolan Arenado (3.3), Anthony Rendon (3.2), and Kris Bryant (2.9). That show’s just how good Moustakas has been this year.

Why He Deserves to Make It

Moustakas may not be deserving of the starters spot over Marte at second base in the National League. Marte has had a better season than him to date (he’s posted a 3.7 WAR on FanGraphs and a 3.6 WAR on Baseball Reference).

However, given that Moustakas is in the top 15 in WAR among all position players in the National League, he does deserve to take one of the 32 roster spots on the National League roster this July.

Moustakas has been an integral part of this team. His production, in all respects, has been incredible.

Given that Moustakas has played more time at second base than Muncy, he should be the player that’s picked as the back-up second baseman for the National League if he’s not voted a starter on Wednesday. There is no other second baseman in the National League that’s been as anywhere near as good as he has besides Marte.

Why He Might Not Make It

There could be two key issues that prevent him from making it.

First, every team is supposed to have at least one representative on the All-Star team. Given that the Milwaukee Brewers already have two clear-cut position guys who deserve to make it, this may lead to Moustakas getting bumped.

Even if he doesn’t get bumped by another position player, he could lose out to his own teammate, Josh Hader, for that third spot. Hader has been, once again, one of the top relievers in the Majors. He’s tied with Kirby Yates of the San Diego Padres for the best WAR among relievers at 1.8. His production suggests that he clearly deserves to be one of the bullpen arms selected.

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Regardless of these concerns, though, Moustakas is clearly deserving of being an all-star. He’s been one of the best position players in the National League this year.

With the rest of the second base competition, beyond Marte, being so far behind him in production, there’s no doubt that Moustakas should be one of the two National League second basemen who makes it to Cleveland this July.