Sep 17, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) drives in a run with a double in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Can Mike Moustakas Take the Next Step?

Sep 8, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third basemen Mike Moustakas (8) fields a ground ball against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals had placed a lot of faith in their prospects to launch them into contention. Players such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez were all expected to be major parts of the offense as the Royals looked to ride a wave of youth to the promised land of the playoffs. Perez has become one of the top catchers in baseball, both offensively and defensively. Hosmer turned it on in the second half of last season, and may be about to reach his potential. Even Wil Myers contributed in a way, as he was one of the key pieces in the trade to bring James Shields to Kansas City.

However, Moustakas has yet to become the same type of player as either Perez or Hosmer. After a reasonably decent rookie season where he produced a .263/.309/.367 batting line, it seemed as though Moustakas could be ready to take the next step in 2012, especially if his power began to manifest. Instead, while Moustakas increased his home runs from five to twenty, he regressed virtually everywhere else. His strikeout rate spiked, and his batting average and on base percentage dropped.

The 2013 season started out even worse for Moustakas. He through most of the first half of the season, with a .177/.247/.286 batting line with only eleven extra base hits through the Royals first sixty games. However, from that point on, Moustakas was closer to the form he displayed in his rookie year, putting together a .266/.310/.411 slash line. The power still was not what was hoped for, with eight home runs and nineteen doubles, but there was progress at least.

At age 25, Moustakas still has time to be able to figure things out with the bat. Despite his underwhelming statistics, there are signs that he may be heading in the right direction. His line drive rate was up to 22% last season, and he dropped his strikeout rate to 16.2%. Moustakas, despite not having the best power numbers, actually had a higher percentage of his hits go for extra bases than league average. Could Moustakas be on the verge of reaching his potential?

For the Royals to take the next step, they are likely going to need improved performance from their young hitters. If Mike Moustakas can take that next step, it could go a long way to getting the Royals to where they want to be.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Moose’s problems are mechanical, but he has to choose to make adjustments and get on board with video studio and listening to the coaches. I’ld watch him in Surprise and if he’s still all hands and pull-happy, I start him at Omaha.

    • Dave Hill

      it’s interesting how he had moments when he was pretty good, and other moments where he was completely lost. I almost wonder if he’s thinking too much in the batter’s box. Maybe trying to simplify things will help as well.

      I do agree that if he is struggling in Spring Training that the Royals should consider sending him to Omaha to start the year. He is going to be very interesting to watch in March.

      • disqus_n5HyLOBljj

        It will be interesting if the Royals sign a 2nd baseman, then have Bonifacio give Moose some competition at 3rd. When I went to Surprise before the 2013 season, and saw Moose, I was shocked. The dude was clearly out of shape. In watching him, it seemed like he felt the big leagues was going to be a walk in the park. Then, low and behold, he struggled in the first half. He was supposed to be better than Hosmer… One guy is at the Gold Glove Awards, the other is eating his way out of being with the big league club. If the kid doesn’t get serious, then he’ll toil away in Omaha, with us wondering what he could have been. With the loss of Seratelli, the Stormchasers have a spot for him.

        • Dave Hill

          Seems like his performance/attitude in Spring Training may go a long way to determining whether or not he can tap into that potential.

          • disqus_n5HyLOBljj

            It will be interesting. I know I am just a quack, but in Surprise I watched Moose hanging out with Butler and Francoeur, just like one of the boys. Butler was bigger than he’d ever been; then Frenchy got cut. I am hoping Moose sheds those bad influences, like Hosmer did, and gets consistent in working toward his potential. There are underlying reasons for the Royals wanting to deal Butler. He’s a really good guy, but his influence is for crap. In thinking outside the box, which we gotta, I’d start Moose working in right field, and hope we can do a Gordon with him.

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