How Would LA Angels Utilize Mike Moustakas?
By Vincent Page
For the second consecutive offseason, the LA Angels have shown interest in free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas. Last year they had a dire need at third base, making it an obvious attraction. However, this year there is a more uncertain role for the veteran in Anaheim.
First off, the connection between the LA Angels and Mike Moustakas is obvious. He was born in Los Angeles, and attended Chatsworth High School before being selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in 2007. His hometown roots run strong, as he and his former Milwaukee Brewers teammates have been raising funds for victims of the recent fires that blazed through California.
And while Moustakas had a solid season last year, his fit on the Angels would be a complicated one. That being said, there is a way to make it work and if done well, could help the team in drastic ways.
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Moustakas, a left-handed batter, has played both corner infield positions throughout his career. However, with Albert Pujols and Justin Bour handling duties over there this year, it is unlikely Moustakas takes time away from that platoon. His fit would come at third base, unless there was an injury to Bour at first, in which Moustakas could then provide the left-handed hitting of that partnership.
At third base, Zack Cozart seems to be ready to roll in what he and the Angels hope is a bounce back season. The right-handed hitter has told reporters he is surprised by how prepared his is for Opening Day following season-ending shoulder surgery last season. While there seems to be a natural lefty-righty split between Cozart and Moustakas, it might go a little deeper than that.
If Cozart bounces back the way he and Angels hope, his bat might be too valuable to take out of the lineup. However, Cozart is also capable of playing second base, where David Fletcher seems to be the likely starter.
When the team faces right-handed pitching, inserting Moustakas at third base and shifting Cozart to second could be what the new-found analytical Brad Ausmus might decide to do. Against southpaw starters, Cozart and Fletcher would take the field in the first.
So while it may seem like there is no fit for Moustakas amidst the rumors, there is always room for a talented player on a contending team. After seeing teams like the Dodgers, Astros, and Red Sox utilize more platoons while making World Series runs, it may be the Angels best bet at contention in 2019.