Can Mike Moustakas Take the Next Step?
By David Hill
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.