The Not So Hot Corner
A stat popped up on the video board at the games the last two nights that I found really intriguing. The more I thought about it, the more it didn’t surprise me at all. Mike Moustakas is the first Royals 3rd baseman since 1998 to hit 19 home runs or more. Let that sink in for a second. In a position that usually requires some pop, the Royals haven’t had a player in 14 years to hit even 20 home runs.
In 1998, at the age of 29, Dean Palmer smashed 34 round trippers. Palmer had a brief 2 year stint in Kansas City, but made the most of his time by winning a Silver Slugger and being elected to the All-Star team. In 1999, Joe Randa began his 6 year tenure with the Royals. Randa was a crowd favorite during his time here, but he was never going to be a serious power threat. He provided great defense and did nothing to hinder the offense, but there was a lack of power production when discussing home runs. In his 6 seasons his home run totals look like this: 16, 15, 13, 11, 16, and 8. I’m not knocking Randa at all, as I’ve always liked him. I’m simply stating the facts that he was a great player but wasn’t a middle of the order threat.
Jul 13, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) is congratulated by catcher Salvador Perez (13) after hitting a home run in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
Mark Teahen took over the reigns in 2005 and proceeded to hit 7 home runs. In the following year, he broke out some and hit 18 big flies, which were the most since Dean Palmer in 1998. Highly touted rookie Alex Gordon made his debut in 2007 and started off extremely slow. He wound up accumulating 15 home runs his freshman year, which was good for 2nd on the team. Gordon followed up his first season by hitting 16 bombs in his sophomore season. These are decent home run totals, but still, not even one player has hit 20 home runs or more since 1998, a span of 10 years.
In 2009, Mark Teahen took over the 3rd base job again as Gordon found himself struggling with injuries. This led to Teahen hitting 12 home runs while he manned the hot corner. Alberto Callaspo had a fantastic 2009 campaign as the team’s second baseman, but his role changed as he moved to third in 2010, where he hit only 8 home runs for the Royals.
Last year was a significant year for the Royals. Many of their very talented prospects were making their major league debuts. Eric Hosmer was the first to be called up in early May and then in June he was joined by Mike Moustakas. In August, the Royals gave the call to Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Perez. While all of those guys show a tremendous amount of promise, Moustakas could change the way we view 3rd base in Kansas City for many years to come. Not only is he excelling defensively, which wasn’t expected, he’s also providing timely hits and a lot of pop at the plate.
I’ve been extremely impressed with how his defense has improved. Night in and night out he is making web gem caliber plays. What’s just as exciting is knowing that he will be a force in the middle of the lineup in Kansas City for many years to come. Moose could be the leader that changes the trend of how we have viewed our third basemen in years past. He has taken several steps this year that would indicate he’ll be able to put up 30 home runs or more, each year, for the forseeable future.