Kansas City Royals Likely to Hit Mike Moustakas Second Again
By David Hill
Last year, Ned Yost surprised many when he named Mike Moustakas as the Kansas City Royals second batter. Heading into the 2016 season, Moustakas could find himself back in that familiar spot in the lineup.
At the start of the 2015 season, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost declared that Mike Moustakas would bat second in the lineup. It was a move that many decried at the time, as Moustakas had barely been a major league caliber player prior to that season, being sent to the minors and posting a .236/.290/.379 batting line through 2014. Still, Yost had confidence in the third baseman, thinking that plugging him into the second spot in the lineup could help Moustakas’ development.
Last year, Moustakas had his breakout season, hitting the ball to all fields en route to a career best .284/.348/.470 batting line with 22 home runs and 34 doubles. The power hitting, slick fielding third baseman that the Royals had envisioned as Moustakas had climbed the minor league ranks finally developed, taking to the second spot in the lineup better than anyone could have expected.
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In fact, given his breakthrough 2015 campaign, it is not a surprise that Yost is considering keeping Moustakas in that role at the start of the 2016 season. While Yost stated that he is leaning towards Moustakas, despite still considering Alex Gordon for the role, it would make sense to keep Moustakas in a role where he feels comfortable. With the speedy Alcides Escobar in front of him in the lineup, Moustakas was able to just react, feasting on the opposition’s need to throw fastballs and strikes to limit the Royals running game.
The problem with putting Moustakas in the second spot in the lineup is a trade off in terms of power. In the 94 games that Moustakas batted second, he produced a .280/.341/.418 batting line with ten home runs, while hitting at a .282/.358/.592 clip with eleven home runs in 39 games in the sixth spot in the lineup.
Gordon, meanwhile, has what seems to be the perfect skillset for the top of the lineup. His excellent patience, coupled with his ability to work the count, had resulted in Gordon batting leadoff for a period of time with the Royals. In his limited time batting second, Gordon has posted a career .349/.425/.538 batting line.
However, just like with Escobar hitting leadoff, there is something about Moustakas batting second that works for the Royals. It may not fit conventional wisdom, but the Royals have already thrown that book out long ago. With Moustakas hitting second, the Royals have won, and that is the most important factor, even if statistically, it would make more sense to put Gordon in the second spot in the lineup.
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Chances are, Mike Moustakas will be hitting second once again for the Kansas City Royals. Given the results last season, that may be the perfect place for him in the lineup.