For the second consecutive season, Mike Moustakas had a torrid Spring Training. Once again, there was hope that he had finally turned his career around, and was ready to become the power hitting third baseman that he was expected to be. He had changed his swing and his approach, and had been hitting the ball the opposite way with authority. Perhaps now, he would end up being the player that the Royals envisioned.
After two games, that does not appear to be the case. Once again, as the switch has flipped and the games matter, Moustakas has gone ice cold, going 0-8 with a strikeout in the first two games. It would appear that the new Mike Moustakas is just the same as the old Mike Moustakas.
Yes, the batting stance has changed. Instead of standing with the closed stance he had in the past, Moustakas is now standing with a wide open batting stance, his front foot practically out of the batters box. Although he closes the stance as the pitch is coming in, his front foot moves away from the plate as he is swinging. As a result, Moustakas is having problems keeping his head down as he strives to make contact.
However, despite the rough start to the season, this new approach may be working, at least to a degree. Over his eight at bats, Mike Moustakas has seen 36 pitches, or 4.5 per at bat. He has either fouled away or laid off pitches that he was missing last season. Despite not having a hit, Moustakas has been hitting the ball more to the opposite field and to center. In fact, it seems as though it is implanted in his mind that he needs to hit the ball to the opposite field.
Perhaps Moustakas’s struggles in the early going are simply a combination of the new stance and that approach being in his mind. With the new swing, his mechanics may simply need to be tweaked once again so that his head is staying down and his eye is remaining on the ball. Moustakas may also be taking the idea of hitting the ball the other way a bit too far. Instead of trying to go with the pitch, he seems as though he is attempting to hit everything to either left or center.
Mike Moustakas hammered the ball throughout Spring Training. With a couple of minor adjustments, he may be able to get back to hitting the ball at a level closer to how he performed in Arizona. Otherwise, if Moustakas continues to struggle throughout April, the hot corner could get even hotter.