The Kansas City Royals are coming off their best season since 1989, and are looking to improve on their 86 wins in 2013. Going forward, we are going to take a closer look at the players that should play significant roles for the Royals in 2014, as they try to make their first post season appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.
If you want to read the other completed profiles, just click here. This link will be updated as we add more profiles over the upcoming weeks.
Up next: third baseman Mike Moustakas.
This is the make or break season for Mike Moustakas, the former 2nd overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft for the Kansas City Royals. It has been mostly disappointment and frustration for the Royals up to this point, but there is still hope.
Moustakas is only 25 years old, and has two and a half years major league experience under his belt. He should just now be coming into his full power, but the Royals cannot afford to wait on him to become an every day hitter much longer.
We did see a glimpse in the first half of 2012 of what Moustakas could be. In those brief months to start the 2012 season, Moustakas played in 79 games, had 327 plate appearances, and put together this slash – .268/.327/.490/.817. He bashed 15 home runs, knocked out 21 doubles, drove in 47 runs, and was the toast of Kansas City.
His career slash is significantly lower, even with those three months included – .244/.296/.385/.681 – in 1,493 plate appearances. Outside of that three month hot stretch in early 2012, Moustakas has 295 career games. In those games, in 1,166 plate appearances, Moose has just 22 home runs, 57 doubles, and 98 RBI. These numbers have been accumulated in what is equal to two full seasons.
Mike Moustakas numbers are not acceptable. Outside of those 79 games at the beginning of the 2012 season, Mike Moustakas has not been a valuable big league power hitter.
The question remains: Was the brief performance in 2012 a glimpse of things to come, or a random, small sample outlier?
The Royals have to still be hoping it is the former, but with the acquisition of right handed hitting Danny Valencia this off season, it doesn’t appeared they are convinced.
The heart of the matter is that against left handers, Mike Moustakas is Chris Getz. Moose’s slash line against southpaws is abysmal in every way – .222/.275/.332/.606. He only has 6 Home Runs in 395 plate appearances in his career when facing a lefty.
The problem is that Kansas City cannot afford Moustakas to be merely a platoon player at third base. They don’t need him to be a star at this point, although that certainly would be nice, but they need him to be much more than what he is right now – a platoon hitter without much power.
If he could just match his slash line from those first 79 games in 2012 – .268/.327/.490/.817 – for his career, and average about 25 home runs a season, he will be an incredible part of this ball club. That slash line isn’t earth shattering. It is good, not great. And very valuable to a team like the Kansas City Royals.
One aspect that could keep Moustakas around the major leagues as a platoon hitter, although maybe not with the Royals, is his above average defense. It will be interesting to see if Moustakas is really more of the above average defender he was in 2013, or the absolutely tremendous glove man he was in 2012.
According to Fangraphs.com, Moustakas earned an Ultimate Zone Rating on defense in 2012 of 15.8, which is almost elite for a third baseman. In 2013, his UZR was still very good at 7.6. The truth is probably more in between. If Moustakas can earn a UZR of 10 a season, the Royals will be thrilled, and if he never learns to hit lefties at all, it will probably keep him in the league a bit longer as a platoon hitter and defensive replacement.
The Royals need him to be a good hitter, not necessarily a great one. He has to learn to be at least a little effective against southpaws. The leash will be short with him early in the season. He will probably get a few chances against not-so-great left handers. If he has some success early, Valencia’s stay with the Royals might be brief.
If he continues his struggles against lefties, and the Royals have to platoon him more often than not with a lefty is on the mound, then Kansas City will have to start looking around for a likely replacement for Moustakas in the next year or so.
Mike Moustakas is still young enough to find his power, and attain at least a modicum of mediocrity against lefties. At 25, he is not a finished product, but the clock is certainly ticking, at there is a limit to how much time he has to figure things out to reach his potential, especially in the power department.