I have written plenty of critical words on this site about Mike Moustakas. I have had ample bones to pick with how Ned Yost has handled Mike Moustakas. From my vantage point, these gripes were justified. So is this early season tribute.
Mike’s doing 3 things undisputedly well. He’s playing great defense, hitting home runs, and batting balls the other way.
Through Saturday he has no errors. The Angles broadcast team couldn’t rave more about his leather Saturday night. He’s belted two homers and posted a 1.265 OPS.
Through Saturday he had pulled only 4 balls for outs. He’s showing not only power to the opposite field, but doing his best Tony Gwynn impression, poking singles the other way on pitches he was way out in front of. Mike has two sacrifice bunts this year. He’s hitting second and acting like a number two hitter.
More from KC Royals News
- KC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchers
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million man
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
Yost has been untraditional with the two hole in the past, but never quite like this. For example, Omar Infante was there far too long last year, but in Ned’s defense, what were the alternatives? This is the best possible start for Mike, and for Ned. Ned decided to bat one of MLB’s worst hitters over the last two season’s in the two hole. Initially, I almost felt like Ned did this to personally taunt me. Some writers, like Dave, had more open minds. Bottom line, it is working. Why?
Ned’s always believed in Moose, and Moose had a great post season last year. The Royals asked him to grow from that playoff experience, and learn how to beat the shift that destroyed his psyche at the beginning of the 2014 season. It really looks like he has. Did the KC Royals like what they saw so much from Moose this off season and Spring Training that they decided to boost his confidence with this line up promotion? This is possible, but I don’t think the whole story.
If Alex Gordon had a healthy wrist, I highly doubt Moose is hitting second. Who knows, we may have that healing wrist to thank if the KC Royals win the American League Central this season. I think Luke Hochevar‘s arm problems last year forced Wade Davis out of last season’s rotation, bearing similar tasty fruit. ( That said, I am pretty concerned with Alex’s wrist) I digress. Even if Gordo’s hurt wrist created the Moose in the two hole conversation, we still have to give Yost credit for forcing Moose into the two hole.
It’s quite possible Mike won’t feel the pressure to hit home runs and be a slugger at the top of the order. That could very well mean he hits more home runs and for more slug. It’s looking like he’s believing in all of his hard work this off season to become a hitter not so easily beaten by the shift. How soon can we expect to see infields realign their strategy on Mike? When they do, does he start to go back to his old “pull everything ways”?
We certainly haven’t seen the “new Mike” long enough to ink him into the All Star team. He’s still popping up more than one would like. That said, I think we can certainly expect a much improved season from him. After just one week, I would be surprised if the Royals don’t get 20 home runs and 775 OPS or more from him. Just that would be huge for this team.
On paper, the Royals have a weaker starting rotation than they had last year. The knew they had to score more runs this season to have a chance at replicating last year’s results. The took gambles that Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales would have bounce back season’s, and that guys like Moose and Hosmer would take another step up. Right now all of their gambles are paying off, but none may pay out as huge as Mike Moustakas batting second.