We have been waiting for Mike Moustakas to break out, to have that season that announces, clearly, for everyone to hear, that he has arrived. A season where he fulfills the promise he displayed in the minors, where he appeared to be a legitimate power bat and the potential heir to George Brett as the Royals cornerstone third baseman.
Thus far, aside from the 20 home runs that Moustakas hit in 2012, he has not yet fulfilled that promise. He slumped to a thoroughly disappointing .233/.287/.364 batting line with only 12 home runs last year. Moustakas became very pull conscious, trying to yank everything to right field. In fact, almost half of his hits last year went to right.
With his lack of development, and continued struggles against left handed pitching, it would be understandable if the Royals were starting to think that Mike Moustakas just would not become the player they envisioned. After all, they went out and acquired Danny Valencia, setting up the perfect platoon situation, since Valencia is at least useful against lefties. However, that is not the case, at least when it comes to Brett. In fact, not only does Brett believe in Moustakas, but he believes that Moose is set up for a breakout season, much like Eric Hosmer enjoyed last year.
“I think ‘Moose’ is going to have a year like ‘Hoz’ did last year — a breakout season,” said Brett.
There are certainly signs that Moustakas could get that type of season. He has come into camp in better shape, losing ten pounds from his playing weight last year. He worked with hitting coach Pedro Grifol in the Venezuelan Winter League, working on not just hitting the ball the other way, but driving it with authority. Thus far, the returns from Spring Training have been positive, with Brett gushing about his ability to hit the ball to left and left center.
“I watched him in batting practice yesterday and he hit about five home runs to left field. He was hitting line drives to left-center that looked like they were coming off a right-handed hitter’s bat.”
Until the games begin to count, and until Mike Moustakas shows that he can actually bring that adjustment to a real game, it may be fair to question whether or not that belief is justified. However, George Brett certainly believes that Moustakas is ready to turn the corner. If nothing else, Brett knows a thing or two about hitting.
Perhaps 2014 is the year that Mike Moustakas puts it all together. If so, George Brett saw it coming first.