MLB
July 29, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Position Battles – Oakland FIrst Base

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Chris Carter, Oakland As, 1B

The Oakland As have started four different first basemen in at least ten games but none in more than 31.  Their Opening Day starter, Brandon Allen, was just sold to a Japanese team.  The current contenders are June waiver wire gem Brandon Moss and post-hype sleeper Chris Carter.  Despite the turnover there is fantasy value here.

 

Moss started nineteen of twenty one games over one stretch in June, sneaking up on most everyone.  His .252/.325/.604 line reflects power not present in his days as a Boston prospect, but that has been developing over the last three years.  He played 2010 and 2011 in the International League (Triple-A) with two different parent clubs and had ISOs over .200 each year.  He took slugging to a new level in 2012 with a .296 ISO and fifteen home runs in 51 Triple-A games.  He managed a solid 0.55 BB/K as well.

 

He kept swinging from his heels in Oakland, lofting 51.4% of his batted balls.  28.9% of those fly balls reached the bleachers, 18.5% in the cavernous Coliseum, a remarkable 54.5% on the road.  There are some negatives, particularly in his plate discipline.  His BB/K dropped to 0.24 and his strikeout rate is 30.1%.  His chase rate is 37.2% and his swinging strike rate is 15.3%.  Only Josh Hamilton is higher among qualified hitters.

 

Moss’ playing time is coming less frequently.  Since the All Star Break he has three starts at first and three in right field.  He actually has a higher OPS in July than June, buoyed by a 100 point BABIP jump.  He has only two walks in 49PAs.  His last four appearances have been as a pinch hitter.

 

Chris Carter has been a top ten organizational prospect five times.  He has not played lower than Triple-A since 2009.  His first two major league stints were very disappointing, he totaled wRC+ rates of 62 and -17.  He started in the Pacific Coast League in 2012 and his power decreased.  After five consecutive years of slugging over .500 he was at .482.  His on base skills were consistent, his OBPs were .365, .366, and .367 the last three seasons.

 

Promoted in late June, he is enjoying Oakland far more this time around.  The biggest improvements have come in BB/K, chase rate, contact rate, and ISO.

 

  BB/K OSwing% Contact% ISO
2010 0.33 31.1% 67.3% .143
2011 0.10 32.7% 57.7% .000
2012 0.77 25.7% 73.3% .423

 

Manager Bob Melvin praised his hitting approach, stating that he is “more confident … not having those meek at-bats.”

 

Carter’s batted ball statistics are similar to Moss’, he is lofting it 46.3% of the time with a 42.1% HR/FB.  Like Moss, the home runs come with a pronounced split, 16.7% at home, 53.8% away.  He is holding a .268 average with a lowly .212 BABIP.  That should rise, but when the home run binge recedes a fly ball-heavy approach does not lend itself to above average luck.  Presently he is pushing the upper limits of a sustainable average for his skill set.

 

Small samples litter this analysis but Carter’s newfound plate discipline gives him the edge over Moss.  Two more months of games is not too long for his power surge to last either.  First base is generally deep, but need could exist in leagues as shallow as twelve teams.  Former Justin Smoak and Lucas Duda owners should sign up.

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