Mickey Moniak Should Play Center Field for the Angels In 2024

Center field at the Big A has seen its share of notable players. Just in my lifetime that grass has hosted Jim Edmonds, Darin Erstad, Torii Hunter, and Mike Trout. Even the second tier guys like Devon White and Fleet Pete had their moments.

Now as the Millville Meteor hits 32 years old, Mickey Moniak might be poised to take the proverbial baton. And the Angels would be wise to set this in motion now.

Consider this, Moniak was drafted first overall in 2016 with glowing scouting reports. Perfect Game described him using the following:

“Impressive body control, athleticism, and footspeed, ran a 6.58 60-yard dash. Long, easy strides in the outfield, moves well to the ball, quick arm speed with accurate throws to bases. Left handed hitter, tall, slightly open stance with calm, simple weight shift. Very fluid swing, with quick hands and line-drive swing path.

Injuries and inconsistent playing time led to diminished results and Moniak still strikes out too often, but when healthy and playing often he’s done quite well. As a 21 year old in AA he racked up 204 total bases in just 119 games. And last year, he took quite a few steps forward at the MLB level.

Defensively, Moniak was among the best in baseball in center field last year. Per thefieldingbible.com he had the 10th best Defensive Runs Saved tally in the majors despite not spending much time there compared to many of his peers.

The Angels were linked to Michael A Taylor over the off season but Moniak matched his defensive value in less than half the innings. Cedric Mullins is universally regarded as a quality MLB player yet had Moniak played as many innings in CF he would have out produced him in DRS 11 to 7.

Offensively, Moniak had an up and down year. After a torrid start he slumped horribly over the dog days of summer before righting the ship the last couple of weeks of the season. Whether you prefer OPS+ or the more comprehensive wRC+ Moniak was 14% better than the average MLB hitter last season.

Cedric Mullins put up a wRC+ of 99 and OPS+ of 101. This is not to disparage Mullins, who I enjoy watching, simply to establish a decent comparable player. By all objective metrics, Mickey > Mullins.

Other players with wRC+ of 114 last year include Justin Turner, Manny Machado, and our own Brandon Drury.

So what does this mean for Moniak? Well, until he does this consistently not much. But if we factor in the totality of Moniak’s 2023 and project forward we could realistically see a full time center fielder who puts up 13-15 DRS while carrying an offensive profile that is 10% or so better than MLB average.

That, my friends, is a 4 WAR player or close to it. You know who put up 4.1 WAR last year according to FanGraphs? None other than Cody Bellinger who is about to get paid quite handsomely and is 3 years older than Moniak.

I’m not saying we should pencil Moniak in for a 133 OPS+ like Bellinger put up in 2023. But Mickey is only entering his age 26 season so there is a solid shot he can eclipse 114 at some point in the next few years. And if the team ends up with a minimum wage Cedric Mullins, that is still a solid value that leaves resources for other needs.

If the Angels are smart, they’ll play Moniak in center and let Trout follow in the footsteps of his mentor Torii Hunter and slide to right. That would greatly improve the team defense and have three plus bats in the lineup.

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ryanfea
Super Member
2 months ago

Defensively sure but I’m not convinced Moniac can hit as a starter. I think his first half was a mirage and his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired.

h27kim
Trusted Member
2 months ago

If we do sign Taylor, it won’t be to start him. We may have 4 OF’s (Trout, Moniak, Ward, and Adell), but all of them come with a question mark or several. Having a decent insurance policy is not a luxury (unless too costly).

DMAGZ13
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Cedric Mullins was a 30-30 guy two seasons ago. Moniak definitely has to prove he’s not just a platoon player to be justified the starting CF.

I’ve been over Taylor Ward even before his injury. I would gladly trade him to at least force us to use Moniak and Adell everyday.

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  DMAGZ13

It makes no sense to trade Blake now. His trade value is probably lower now than at the beginning of last year. However, if he proves he’s 100% back, considering his 3 years of team control he should have tremendous trade value at the deadline.

HalosFanForLife
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

💯

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend

I think he could be a low rent Torii Hunter if we are lucky, and finding out if we’re lucky should be one of the goals this year. Sure, he’ll be Torii with a .720 OPS, but probably better defensively than the Torii we had. That’s not bad for 1/15 what Belli will cost us while we watch him slack off and smoke out post contract year. If we get that, that’s a big win for us. We can trade Ward if he’s not mentally broken…. which he likely will be when our shit fan juju gets to him post face injury. But that would be a bonus.

He should play center. He should start and have a platoon partner, who can be Trout if we want to go get another corner OF that’s cheap.

If both he AND Adell pan out…. sheesh that’d be a win. We could spend on starting pitching next year. And they don’t need to be studs either. Just be over 110 OPS+ and at least OK defensively. Spending less than 5M a year to fill out the Troutfield would be great.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago

Are you implying that smoking out is a bad thing?

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Before last year, It has been for Belli

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Is doesn’t mesh well with detail demanding tasks.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
2 months ago

So far to date, “…at least OK defensively” is a stretch for Adell.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

His mediocre defense will be absolved if he hits .250+ and swats 30+ dongers.

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

According to the same Fielding Bible shown above his defense is much approved form lost in a fog to good.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

I think his athleticism & work ethic alone makes him adequate defensively. This all a distraction from the real question:

Can he hit .250 and mash 30 bombs whilst reducing is K rate from 40% to 30%. Period. Exclamation Point.
Nothing else to consider.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

BUT…..can he pitch?

h27kim
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

He did pitch in HS, I think…

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Glad to hear that, but we does with the lumber will determine his fate.

Roy Hobbs
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Gary Pettis was an incredible defensive CF.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Roy Hobbs

And his .240 batting average would be far more palatable in today’s game.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Roy Hobbs

So was Mike Ramsey, with a snappy .232

Last edited 2 months ago by Angelz4ever
Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  Roy Hobbs

Freddy Lynn says hello from the 15 day DL

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Are you an old GenX or young Boomer?

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Yes?

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Your non-conclusive response is noted.

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Or I guess I really don’t know as the cutoffs seem to be a moving target. Is it possible to be both?

Dogface1956
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Roy Hobbs

In the early 70’s Ken Berry (no not the F-Troop guy) was a pretty good center fielder. I think he hit about 270 with no power, but he played a mean center field.

Roy Hobbs
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Ditto to pretty much everything said below. I don’t know about the move but if he can put up a 110 or better OPS+ while being a plus defender considering his age and that he has 5 years of club control left, he is a very valuable commodity. And, there is certainly the possibility he improves if someone teaches him to only swing at strikes.

Nice write up, very informative.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  Roy Hobbs

Huzzah!

Angels22
Trusted Member
2 months ago

I agree Moniak to center.

I read Angels are interested in 40 year old Joey Votto. Not sure that’s a good move. Wish we resigned Gio instead.

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  Angels22

If we dont sign a 5th outfielder we could sign both .

Angelz4ever
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Angels22

We have too many 1B/DHs on the roster as is. Otherwise, I’d love to see Votto as a Halo for 1-2 years.

TrojanBoiler
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Who is Johan Rojas and how did he have 15 DRS in 392 innings? Holy moly

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  TrojanBoiler

He was so good he kicked Brandon Marsh out of center.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  TrojanBoiler

Sounds like a Bond Villian.

Jayman28
Trusted Member
2 months ago

As much as I want to see Moniak play centerfield, Trout is not willing to swallow his pride and switch spots for the sake of his health, he thinks he can finally stay healthy after several seasons of being hurt.

I know Pineapple is going to have a major disagreement with this post too lol

Last edited 2 months ago by Jayman28
BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jayman28

P12 will get over it if Trout plays 140 games and puts up an 8 WAR or better.

Jayman28
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

That’s true

FungoAle
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jayman28

Angels should stop pandering and just move him to LF. If Mike does not like it, perhaps he waives his no-trade clause. Badda bing.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  FungoAle

Fughetta’ bout’ it

Last edited 2 months ago by BannedInLA
gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  FungoAle

Cold hard truth. Mike’s the guy getting misty on camera because he’s hurt all the time. Mike’s also cost Arte enough money to buy us all houses while healing. Mike needs to do what the team tells him to do even if I do love the guy.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago

In the end, regardless of how big our schlong us, we answer to someone.

Move off CF Michael Nelson Trout, MmmKayyy

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago

Thanks for this piece, Jeff, though not mentioning Gary Pettis in your pantheon of Angels CF’s is a notable miss, haha.

Moniak, much like O’Hoppe, is an athletic “dude” to be sure.

Getting a +/- 4 WAR outfielder for essentially nothing over the next few seasons would represent quite the boon for the club.

I wish Trout would come to this realization on his own a la Torii Hunter…..

Much like Adell, the club should make every effort to get Mickey 500+ AB’s to determine if he’s true Gold or merely Fools Gold.

matthiasstephan
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

I think we have one more season of Trout at CF – which also gives us the possibility of using Moniak, Ward, and Adell and work out which (if any) have serious question marks moving forward.

I will continue to maintain that the string of injuries for Trout are not cumulative – and only the thigh issue (which didn’t slow him down last year, as far as I can see) is related to anything to do with fielding CF.

I will note, the thumb injury isn’t reported to put him off stealing (he is talking about upping that part of his game) and the hamete injury has known recovery times and affects hitting more than fielding CF.

M.C.Homer
Member
2 months ago

My name is Mike and broke my Hamate last week tightening a bolt.
Mike disease…
No way I’d try to swing with this

MarineLayer
Super Member
2 months ago

Did any of Trout’s long-term injuries result from playing center field? I remember him injuring his leg jogging into third, and breaking his hamate at the place. I think he injured his back during a swing. He injured his hand sliding into a base. I don’t see the urgency to move him off CF, especially since a lot of his identity comes from being the Captain of the OF.

Last edited 2 months ago by MarineLayer
ihearhowie3.0
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

I think a lot of his injuries came from working out and training like an NFL player in his 20s. Lots of back, soft tissue and bone stuff.

Maybe his body was built to break no matter what but I think he’s an interesting example of over-doing it for the sport he plays.

Last edited 2 months ago by ihearhowie3.0
MarineLayer
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Doesn’t he generate the same force operating from LF and RF? And as I said, I think he likes playing there and part of managing him is allowing for his psychology. It seems like most of his injuries actually come when he hits and runs the bases. How do we control those risks. He’s stopped stealing but those injuries keep happening.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

Sigh…. it’s simply a matter of mitigating risk wherever possible.

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

It Must be the PEDs then.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  MarineLayer

The point is he starts moving at all a few less times per game as a corner outfielder. Less mileage.

WallyChuckChili
Legend
2 months ago

Can’t we just roll back the miles?

cookmeister
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

Not specifically from playing the field, but in general it’s about wear and tear on the body. CF is more demanding, playing 140+ especially.

Charles Sutton
Editor
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

I think he fouled up his catching wrist diving for a ball several years ago. It was like his glove caught in the grass and folded him badly.
I think that must be the 18 games due to wrist inflammation in 2018.

Last edited 2 months ago by Charles Sutton
smithy610
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

More than the injuries, there’s his back issue that needs constant “maintenance.” So yes, it’s not just about avoiding injury, it’s lessening the wear and tear, and also help him “maintain” his back problem.

cookmeister
Trusted Member
2 months ago

The only way you move Trout off CF is if he asks to, or if you have a serious convo with him while bringing in Bellinger and Trout is on board

Jayman28
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  cookmeister

And Trout’s answer will probaby be a big no since he has too much pride

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jayman28

Curious, what do you base this on? His past statements or a gut feeling?

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  BannedInLA

That’s the thing. Moniak’s pretty clearly a better CF. Trout’ll be a great LF. I’m not totally sold on the idea that Trout can’t see that and be OK with the idea. He can still play CF when Moniak sits for a platoon split.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago

My scenario is that Trout goes all-in on being the best DH since Edgar Martinez whilst being the 4th outfielder.

Cowboy26
Legend
2 months ago

Great points Jeff. If you adjust for innings, Moniak actually jumps to no. 6 on this list.

Now take look at Bellinger’s numbers the last 2 years.. He rates high as a first baseman but not so much for an outfielder despite the hype. He’s at -3 DRS albeit for alot more innings (1909) then Moniak but its not trending in the right direction.Trout was actually better than Belli.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cowboy26
BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

I recall Mickey making one horrible play in CF last season, but he was smooth as silk otherwise and apparently the numbers bear out what my eyes told me.

Jim Atkins
Super Member
2 months ago

Can’t argue much with this. Trout needs a less mobile position as he ages. I want to see him play, not break down with injuries.

RexFregosi
Super Member
2 months ago

i anticipate Captain Ron will talk him into it, sooner rather than later.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  RexFregosi

When “15 WAR Ron” talks, people listen….

tanana40
Super Member
2 months ago

As an old timer, Rick Miller was a very good defensive CF for the Angels from 1978-80. He won a Gold Glove in 1978.

I worry about Moniak’s strike out rate at the plate but also think it is time to give him the starting job in CF. His defense is unquestionably good.

Angels2020Champs
Legend
2 months ago

Thanks for this Jeff, that first paragraph alone reminds me of why I’ll always love the Ångels!

Agree with the whole article btw.

Angels2020Champs
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Growing up in Doyer country, having Jim Edmonds as a mic drop was always clutch.

Devon White was in CF for my first game at the Big A and I remember rooting for Chad Curtis too.

Eric_in_Portland
Legend
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

I played CF in Little League and was pretty good, good enough to make the all-star team. When the post-season tournament started with Williamsport as the goal I guess I wasn’t the absolute best CF in town so I played LF. And know what? I loved it. There’s a lot of action there.

So I offer my insight if Wash needs me to talk to Trout.

BannedInLA
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

It’s definitely a “glory” position, along with SS.