KC Royals: The New Approach Of Mike Moustakas


When the KC Royals called up third baseman Mike Moustakas to the big club in 2011, many in baseball projected him as a pull-hitting lefty with good power. Maybe 25 home runs per year, a .260 average with solid defense (and plenty of upside).

Four years later in 2015, Moose looks a lot more more like a contact hitter than a power hitter, and it’s showing through in his 2015 offensive awakening.

In 58 games this season, Moose is hitting .326/.382/.469. He has 73 hits, 12 doubles, and six home runs. That’s about half of his 2014 output and it’s only June. He has 54 singles; he had 60 singles in 140 games last season.

Oddly, Moose is walking less than ever (5.6% Walk-rate) and yet his on-base percentage (.382) is 82 points above his career mark. He’s hitting more ground balls than he ever has (45.4% GB-rate) and his .143 isolated power (slugging minus average) is down from last year. So while it’s possible Moose has been a bit lucky, he looks like a complete hitter this season. It’s still early, but what’s different about Mike Moustakas for the 2015 Kansas City Royals?

1) He’s using the entire field

Where last year he seemed dead-set on pulling the ball, defensive shift or not, this season he’s revamped his approach. Here are Moustakas’ spray charts for every batted ball in 2014 and then 2015:


In 2015 he’s taking more singles to the opposite field, he’s doubling deep down the left field line, he even hit a homer to left-center field early this season. In 2014, each of his 15 homers were pulled to right. Moustakas has displayed great hands, and he appears to have figured out how to hit using solid contact, and not relying so much on his natural power stroke.

2) He’s not striking out

Moustakas’ 10.9 percent K-rate is exceptional. He holds the fourth lowest K-rate among qualified third basemen.

This season Moose has a 5.6 swinging-strike percentage. That means if he swings at 100 pitches, he misses five or six. That’s low, which is good.

This season Moose has a 5.6 swinging-strike percentage. That means if he swings at 100 pitches, he misses five or six. That’s low, which is good. In fact, it’s the lowest of any third basemen except for Daniel Murphy and Martin Prado – two consummate contact hitters. As far as hitting profiles go, Moose looks a lot more Joe Mauer than Brian McCann this year.

3) He’s hitting lefties

Mike Moustakas has more hits this season (22) against left-handed pitching than he did during all of 2014 (17) and all of the 2013 (21). Right now he’s hitting .289 against lefties with four doubles, two home runs and just six strikeouts in 76 at-bats.

In 2013 and 2014 combined, Moose hit .175 against lefties with nine doubles and five home runs in 217 at-bats. He was hardly usable against left-handed pitching, even when he was providing plus defense.

It’s refreshing to see a guy like Moustakas, touted as a power hitter, work – and struggle – at his craft, and ultimately prove his value at the Major League level. He looks comfortable at the plate and even more comfortable in the top third of the lineup.

Next: Five Worst Royals All-Star Selections

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