KC Royals: Mike Moustakas Opposite Field Homer A Key Step


KC Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas slammed an opposite field home run in the 5th inning of Monday’s home opener against the Chicago White Sox. MONDAY’S BLAST WAS MOUSTAKAS’ FIRST OPPOSITE FIELD HOME RUN OF HIS FIVE-YEAR CAREER.

You can see all 53 of Moose’s career home runs as the red dots on his spray chart  (courtesy of Brooks Baseball):

That red dot just to the left of center is Mike Moustakas’ 405 foot shot on Monday.

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The spray chart shows just how much of a dead pull hitter Mike Moustakas has been over his Kansas City Royals career. Moose has only Monday’s opposite field home run and two career homers to dead center to go with 50 blasts that he pulled to right.

Moustakas even pulled most of his career doubles (blue dots) and his infield hits. Only Moose’s outfield singles show a decent distribution to the opposite field. It’s safe to say that Mike Moustakas only has shown power as a major-league hitter when he pulls the ball.

Until Monday, that is.

Monday’s blast is significant in another way. Mike Moustakas also hit a home run on a pitch located in his weak spot: high and outside. You can see this fact on Moose’s career batting average heat map below:

[Note: the inner box of nine squares is the strike zone]

This heat map is from the catcher’s point-of-view, which means a left-handed hitter like Mike Moustakas will bat from the right side of this diagram.

Notice Moustakas hits the high and outside box for the lowest batting average of any section in the strike zone. High and outside is also where to make Mike Moustakas swing and miss on a pitch in the strike zone:

Pitches in the dirt, however, are where you can really get Moose to strike out; but those pitches are out of the strike zone. Pitchers have used that high outside fastball to get ahead of Moose, and then punch him out with breaking pitches low.

With a 1-1 count, Moustakas smashed a 93-mph fastball from Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija over the left-center wall. On the video, you can see White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers set up low and outside. Apparently Samardzija was throwing a sinker that didn’t sink. While the ball appears high and on the outer half, Samardzija caught too much of the plate.

The opposite field home run will make pitchers a bit more cautious while trying to hit Moose’s high and outside whiff spot. Its one thing to hit a single. Its quite another when a pitcher knows you can hurt him for extra bases on pitches on the outer half.

Along with the home run, Mike Moustakas went 2 for 3 on Monday for the KC Royals with a single, walk, and sacrifice bunt to go with his opposite field blast. The single also came on a soft, opposite-field grounder to third that Conor Gillaspie couldn’t handle due to the shift.

I know it was only one game, but Moose did as much as possible to serve notice that he can use the opposite field. Mike Moustakas performance on Monday raises the Kansas City Royals fans hopes that he can beat the shift that ruined him last season.

Next: Mike Moustakas Must Beat The Shift

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