Jul 23, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) drives in a run with a hit against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Platooning Mike Moustakas at Third


May 20, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Danny Valencia (35) bats in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 6-4 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two seasons, the Royals and their fans have been waiting for Mike Moustakas to become the type of hitter he had been during his time in the minors. One of the top prospects, not only on the Royals but throughout the entire minor leagues, Moustakas was able to blend excellent power with an ability to hit for average. If a ‘sure thing’ existed in terms of prospects, Moustakas appeared to be that.

However, Moustakas has, thus far, failed to be the player that he was expected to be. Not only has he not delivered the consistent power that was expected from him, but he may be at the point where he is simply a platoon player. Throughout his career, Moustakas has put together a .252/.304/.404 hitting line with 31 home runs against right handed pitching. While those numbers are not great, they are much better than how he has performed against left handed pitching. Against lefties, Moustakas is hitting a paltry .203/.244/.304 rate with only six home runs. That difference has carried over to the Venezuelan Winter League, where Moustakas is batting .345/.367/.759 against righties, but only .208/.321/.250 against left handed pitching.

That is part of what makes the Royals acquisition of Danny Valencia interesting. Whereas Mike Moustakas struggles against lefties, Valencia has crushed southpaws to the tune of a .329/.367/.513 rate while hitting twelve home runs. Meanwhile, Valencia has struggled against right handers, batting at only a .229/.269/.360 rate against them. Both players appear to be perfect candidates for a platoon.

Now, the Royals can make that platoon a reality. If Valencia and Moustakas hit at their regular rates, they could combine for a third baseman that hits at a roughly .270/.330/.450 rate with around 20 to 25 home runs. Although those are not the types of numbers that were expected of Moustakas when he first came up, the combination of Moustakas and Valencia could turn out to be a solid third baseman for the Royals.

A platoon also allows the Royals to deepen their bench. Depending on which player is starting, they would now have a power bat from either the left of the right side to bring in late in the game. Having both also allows the Royals to potentially avoid those late inning matchups, since they could then pinch hit with the other third baseman without losing anything in the field.

Employing a platoon at third base may not be ideal. However, the best way to get production from a player is to put them in situations where they can succeed. Given the success that Mike Moustakas has had against right handed pitching, and the success that Danny Valencia has had against lefties, the platoon makes perfect sense for the Royals. Now, by being able to put players in a position where they have had success in the past, they may be able to get the type of production they envisioned for third base over the next few years, even if it is not the way they expected.

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Tags: Danny Valencia Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas

  • Ed Connealy

    I don’t get the impression Moose is a sharp guy. He showed up ( from what I could see and from what we all heard) out of shape for spring training last year. who does that at that point in their career? He was very open about his disdain for the video room as well. If anybody needs an anvil over his head it’s him. Let’s hope the carrot and stick approach gets the most out of this mule…er Moose.

    • jimfetterolf

      Moose is sharp enough, but like the average 24 year old millionaire who has been offered worship for years, he confuses luck with brains. He’s basically a trust fund kid who assumes he’ll be CEO no matter what he does. We had hoped Brett could get through to him and maybe he did, like with the equally stubborn Hosmer who had helped get two hitting coaches fired, but I’m hoping Valencia will get his attention. If not, Colon and Gordon both need reps at 3B this spring.

  • jimfetterolf

    “.270/.330/.450″

    Hard to be precise without defense, but the comps look like Chase Headley and Kyle Seager, roughly fW 3.5, about 2.4 wins above Moose last year. That’s 6/7 among MLB qualifying 3B. I’ld take that. Get one more WAR from each of Infante and Aoki and that’s 4.5WAR improvement. Minus Santana’s overage of what Duffy does, 90 wins is looking ball parkish. If Moose can just dominate righties, we’ll be in tall cotton.

  • unclejesse40

    I could swear I also say something recently of how Valencia also took a couple reps at different positions last year. I agree that he is here to platoon with Moose, but if Danny can also play a couple of other positions it does add more value, as long as he doesn’t stink at those positions.

  • Brian J.

    Moose should play nearly every game. If they want him to get better against lefties, what’s the point of benching him against lefties?

    • jimfetterolf

      The point is generating more offense about a third of the time. Valencia is solid against lefties, Moose is better against righties, and 3rd was our weakest position over the course of last year. Moose has had a couple of years to get better but this year the intention is to win, so Valencia was traded for. I assume he can also play a passable 1st and sometimes get hidden in LF.

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