KC Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas enters her final years of his contract. Here are more reasons why I think he’ll finish with a big season.
I wrote a recent article about why I believed Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was poised for a big season in 2017. However, I wanted to add some more facts that I failed to mention in my earlier piece.
Over on Fangraphs.com, Randy Holt pointed out that Mike Moustakas suffered from an unusually bad Batting Average Balls in Play (BABIP) in his short 2016 season. Further, Moustakas’ plate discipline continued to improve with a low 11.5% strikeout rate. Meanwhile, Moustakas’ hard-hit percentage zoomed to a career-high 37.4%. Even with the horrendous .214 BABIP, Moustakas managed a .801 OPS and a 110 OPS+ (10% better than a league average hitter).
That unusually low BABIP occurred despite Moustakas continuing to show that he had learned how to hit balls to the opposite field. While Moustakas is a guy that has posted low BABIPs throughout his career, his BABIP improved to .294 in 2015. That number is slightly below the .300 that most analysts consider average.
In a very real sense, Moustakas suffered from bad luck in his 113 plate appearances in 2016. Of course, he also put seven balls over the fence which removed those hits from his BABIP.
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What To Expect From Moustakas In 2017?
Call me a true believer, but I think Mike Moustakas will put up an OPS over .900 over a full-season. I also see Moustakas making a run at Steve Balboni‘s club record 36 home runs in a single year. On the downside, I expect his defense to decline in 2017 after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last season. Hopefully, he will regain some range as the season progresses.
The improved orthopedic techniques in the last couple of decades has both reduced the recovery time and improved the long-term results from knee surgery. Athletes can often come very close to their former performance level. Also, baseball isn’t nearly as stressful on the body as a sport like football. Even so, I’d still expect Moose to need more rest and recovery time in 2017.
Moustakas will have remained on the shelf for nearly nine months before Spring Training. He could have some difficulty getting his timing back. But, he will have six weeks to accomplish this feat just like the rest of major-league baseball.