by Steffen Taudal

Missing Moose: What to make of the injury woes of Mike Moustakas

The injury bug has hit the Reds pretty hard already this season, with regular starters like Joey Votto, Nick Senzel and Sonny Gray all having spent extended time on the IL. Another name on that list is Mike Moustakas whose time in Cincinnati, regrettably, has seen its fair share of injury troubles. While his play when healthy has been fine, Reds fans have seen less of Moustakas than was hoped when he signed a 4 year / $64 million contract last offseason.

At the time of the signing, Moustakas had not suffered a severe injury since he tore his ACL during the 2016 season, causing him to miss the majority of the year. In fact, since becoming a full-time player in 2012 Moustakas had started an average of 137 games per season, excluding 2016.

Obviously, Moustakas had dealt with a couple of minor injuries, like a wrist issue that caused him to miss eight games in September of 2019, while with the Brewers, but, again, nothing that should have concerned Reds fans about his availability.


Which brings us to Moustakas’ time with the Reds. The 2020 season was a tumultuous year for every player and especially for Moustakas. Two games into the season, the two-time All Star was forced to miss three games as he was placed on the IL with COVID like symptoms. Then, after only five games back with the team, it was back on the IL for Moustakas, this time with a left quad strain and severe bruising. Through the Reds’ first twenty games, Moustakas had missed 12.

The rest of the year was relatively healthy for Moustakas, though, as he missed only two more games in September after being hit by a pitch against the Cubs, which caused a left foot contusion. However, in a 60-game season, Moustakas had missed almost a quarter of the team’s games.

So, going into 2021, the hope was obviously that Moustakas would shake these minor issues, and come back strong. So far, that hasn’t been the case, unfortunately.

After a phenomenal first two weeks of the season, in which he had a wOBA of .407 and a wRC+ of 155 in 47 plate appearances, it was back to the IL with Moustakas. Once again, Moustakas’ season was derailed by illness, causing him to miss ten games from April 14 to April 27. Coming back, Moustakas looked rusty. In 55 plate appearances from April 27 to May 14, Moustakas’ wRC+ sat at a not so nice 69.

To make matters worse, Moustakas was now injured once again. Since leaving a game against the Rockies on May 14 with a heel contusion, Moustakas has exactly two plate appearances, and none since May 18. He landed on the IL on May 19, not eligible to return until May 29. As such, Moustakas has only played in about half of the Reds’ first 45 games.


Now, things could certainly be worse. After all, while Moustakas has missed a considerable amount of time due to injuries, there hasn’t been one recurring issue. Instead, it’s been an illness here and a hit by pitch there, leading to small ailments. Moustakas has simply been the victim of bad luck, and that there is nothing to suggest that these injury woes will be a permanent thing. Whether this is wishful thinking remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: Reds fans hope to see a lot more of the man they call “moose” in the days to come.

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Steffen has been a huge Reds fan since watching his very first baseball game during the 2018 season. Despite the Reds finishing 5th in the NL Central for the fourth season in a row, he found himself drawn to the team's storied past and infinitely likable players such as Eugenio Suárez and Joey Votto. Since then, his love of baseball has led to a deep interest in the game's analytics and advanced statistics. Steffen is from Denmark and recently graduated from Aarhus University. You can follow him on twitter @TaudalSteffen

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8 months ago

I’m afraid that “heel contusion” is a weak and misleading description. I read the other day how it was a “partial tear of his plantar fasciitis.” This is for one thing an extremely painful injury, and no wonder he’s still in a walking boot. I’m not an MD, but generally plantar fasciitis problems are so to heal.

I saw the play where he hurt himself, and was worried right away. He came down on his heel awkwardly, and looked to be in a lot of pain.

I agree with the overall optimistic take on Moose, he’s a very good hitter and player and the Reds need him back. But he might not be back for a while.

8 months ago

Good article Steffen but maybe you should have written about Nick Senzel. I just read about his knee surgery. Good grief, the guy simply cannot stay off the DL. Maybe I am just frustrated as I write this, but I don’t see how the Reds can make any future plans that include Senzel playing a significant role.