Ever since being drafted by the Kansas City Royals with the number two overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft, Mike Moustakas has had to live with great expectations. Aside from a slight hiccup in 2009, Moose breezed through the minor leagues before working his way onto the big league roster in the middle of 2011.
Ever since, Moose has struggled to regain the power he once exhibited in the minors. By using baseball-reference.com to take a look at the closest comparable players to Moose, we can get an idea of where he might eventually wind up as a player.
The first comparable listed is Ken McMullen, a third baseman for the Dodgers and Senators in the 60’s. Like Moustakas, McMullen exhibited good defense at third base, showing off a defensive range that allowed him to get to balls that many other third basemen couldn’t.
Unfortunately for McMullen, career was overlapped by Brooks Robinson, meaning that his defensive prowess was largely overlooked. Like Moustakas, McMullen struggled in his age 22-24 season, putting up a .246/.303/.380 triple slash. Over the next three years, McMullen was better, hitting .255/.326/.395 to compliment his dependable defense.
This line may not seem like much, but given the era, McMullen’s triple slash was actually above average. McMullen never hit for much power over the course of his career which doesn’t match well with Moustakas’s skill set, so looking at another batter with slightly more power may also help.
Checking in at number seven on the list is a former Royal, Gary Gaetti. In his age 22-24 seasons, Gaetti also struggled, hitting .237/.293/.428. Gaetti stuggled for another couple of seasons before finally hitting his stride at age 27, where he slashed .287/.347/.518. Gaetti was also well regarded as a defensive player, winning four consecutive Gold Glove awards at third base from 1986-1989.
Though Gaetti had a few more offensive seasons similar to his age 27 campaign, including a 10th place MVP finish in 1995 for the Royals, his career numbers showed a player with below average plate discipline, who hit for above average power. Gaetti may be the most accurate comparable for Moose, but there’s one more player who’s a much more interesting comparable.
The player listed at number nine in Moose’s list of comparables was also a number 2 overall draft pick. In fact, this player was also a number two overall draft pick by the Royals. Both players were drafted at third base, and, like Moustakas, this player’s offensive performance over the first three years of his career didn’t match the hype from the minor leagues.
Yes, the aforementioned player is Alex Gordon. Gordon’s early career struggles and revitalization are well documented, so it’s easy to see the differences between Gordon and Moose. Gordon’s early career, for the most part, was defined by a couple costly injuries and more than a few trips up and down I-29.
Unlike Gordon, Moose has never gone back to Omaha since arriving in the Majors. In addition, Moustakas has never spent serious time on the DL. Nevertheless, it’s a very interesting comparison.
These three comparables all have one important thing in common, they eventually broke out. Whether Moose follows the route of Gaetti and Gordon, breaking out in a big way at 27 years old, or the route of McMullen, a smaller breakout sooner in his career followed by consistently above average performance, it is clear that history suggests we’ll see better things from Mike Moustakas in the future.