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There was a Moose sighting at 20th and Blake in 2023

Mike Moustakas provided a veteran bench presence for a few months in Colorado

Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

★ ★ ★

No. 17, Mike Moustakas: 0.5 rWAR

Over the whirlwind season that was 2023, it’d be understandable if you forgot that Mike Moustakas was a Colorado Rockie. After Brendan Rodgers went down with an injury in spring training, the Rockies immediately pivoted to acquire positional help and settled on Moustakas, a player who had just been designated for assignment in January. There was concern that he was going to be slated for second base, but the Rockies dispelled that report and established that he would be a corner infielder and designated hitter option off the bench.

Moustakas has had an interesting career. Prior to coming to Colorado, he had established himself as a slugger in Kansas City and Milwaukee before heading to Cincinnati on a notable deal. Unfortunately, injuries had hindered him the last few years, resulting in poor performance and leading the Reds to release him and be on the hook for the nearly $20 million he was owed in 2023.

The Rockies were confident that Moustakas could boost their team. There was some hope in the fact that in his 12-year career, he produced a slash line of .247/.308/.434 with six seasons of at least 20 homers. Moustakas’s experience at third would translate easily to first base as a backup and it’s always nice to have a bat with power potential on the bench. Plus, the initial plan was to have an alternate plan at the hot corner if Elehuris Montero didn’t pan out there (spoiler: he did not). Our own Renee Dechert recapped Moustakas’s time with

Feeling healthy and confident, Moustakas was excited to join the Rockies. “You’ve got to wait it out — and I finally got the opportunity and jumped all over it,” Moustakas said to reporters following the signing. “So it’s great to be here. I’m excited the Rockies gave me this opportunity. I’m fired up.”

“The city’s phenomenal,” he later said in April, “The fans are great. It’s a great team, a great clubhouse. Everybody in this organization has been unbelievable, not just to me but to my family as well, so it’s a pretty special place.”

He later expressed his feelings about making the roster near the end of spring training.

So, how did Moose pan out for the Rockies? Quite well actually.

Moustakas appeared in 47 games and had 136 plate appearances. During that time, he slashed .270/.360/.435 with four home runs. He also had a wRC+ of 101 and a BB% of 12.5% while posting a positive DRS defensively at first base.

The power wasn’t exactly what it used to be, but when Moose did get a hold of a ball, it was a glorious sight to behold.

Another tender moment for Moose during the season was when the Rockies played in Kansas City and he was able to get a standing ovation from the crowd.

Eventually, the good times with Moose had to come to an end. In June, following a historic beatdown by the Los Angeles Angels, the Rockies announced they had traded Moose to the Angels in exchange for minor league pitcher Conner Van Scoyoc. But the impact of the trade could be felt with the Rockies as they lost a valuable clubhouse presence that had come to be a mentor for the younger players.

Bud Black described him as a sounding board for both the players and the coaches.

Our own Renee Dechert recapped his time with the Rockies at the time of the trade and relayed the following quotes in her own article.

Moustakas himself described the trade as “bittersweet” but had nothing but praise for the Rockies organization, “They gave me an opportunity to come back to Major League Baseball this year, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.” He added, “I’ve made some really good friends, and I’m going to miss those guys a lot.

“Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we should have and wanted to, but that’s a great group of guys,” he said, “and it’s going to be a good team here in the future. So I’m excited to see what they’re capable of here pretty soon.”

Moose headed walked across the field to the Angels where he spent the rest of the 2023 season. In 65 games in Anaheim, he slashed .236/.256/.371 with eight home runs and 31 RBI while splitting time at both corner infield positions.

At the time of signing, Moose was an emergency contingent but quickly endeared himself to his teammates, the organization, and the fans. It was short-lived but the Rockies were able to benefit from his presence and then trade him for a useful minor league pitcher that could pan out in the future.


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