KC Royals Mike Moustakas‘ stunning transformation from a disappointing bust to star third baseman has drawn a lot of attention across major-league baseball. One aspect of Moustakas’ turnaround that has largely gone unmentioned is his improvement against left-handed pitching.
Before this season, Mike Moustakas had been pretty-much helpless against left-handed pitchers. The lefty-hitting Moustakas’ career line against lefties is an anemic .220/.276/.341 for an unacceptable OPS (on base plus slugging) of .617.
That simply doesn’t work for a corner infielder. Heck, that’s terrible for a Gold Glove shortstop.
Moose’s inability to hit left-handed pitching suggested that he was no better than a platoon player, at best, before this season.
In 41 games played of the 2015 season, Mike Moustakas is hitting .281/.338/.438 with 4 doubles and 2 home runs in 64 at bats against lefties. His .776 OPS would be good enough to make him an above-average hitter on its own, much less against same-side pitching.
You can see how Mike Moustakas has achieved this feat by looking at his hit chart against left-handed pitchers (courtesy of Brooks Baseball):
Compare this 2015 chart with Mike Moustakas’ career hit chart against LHP (also courtesy of Brooks Baseball):
You can see that Moose’s singles in 2015 are predominantly to the opposite field (left), as well as two doubles. Mike Moustakas did pull both of his home runs to right, but hit only one double to right (as well as one to center).
On his career chart, Moustakas pulled most of his singles, doubles, and home runs.
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While Mike Moustakas has also drastically improved against right-handed pitching (2015 OPS of .921 vs. RHP vs. a career mark of .702), I’m more impressed by his new-found ability to hit lefties.
Right now, Mike Moustakas is clearly a player you want to put in the lineup against both right-handed and left-handed pitching. He’s come an unimaginable distance from the struggling player that looked poised to lose his job last season.
Add in Mike Moustakas 4.2 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and you have an outstanding player with both the glove and the bat. Overall, Fangraphs.com sees Moustakas as the fourth-best third baseman in major-league baseball with a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) value of 1.9.
I know analysts and pundits across baseball have written to death about Mike Moustakas improvement this season. But his transformation has been truly stunning.
It’s not often that a player goes from one of the worst position players in the game to one of the best. Mike Moustakas is now a legitimate candidate for an All-Star berth in 2015.
He’s finally a player that justifies the number two overall pick of the 2007 amateur draft.