Last year a foul ball off the bat of Melky Cabrera knocked out third baseman for the KC Royals, Mike Moustakas for rest of the year after a collision with left fielder Alex Gordon.
But, Mike Moustakas wasn’t the only thing that took a hit, as his injury put a big dent in last years playoff hopes for the KC Royals.
Now that Mike Moustakas is back and making a good presence in the KC Royals lineup, the offense can improve from a lineup that was filled AAAA players last year. So far, the results have been great, considering everybody wasn’t a 100% sure he would return to his 2015/Early 2016 form. But could 2017 be a new career year for the homegrown third baseman?
How Successful Has Mike Moustakas Been?
The stretch from the beginning of the 2015 season to when Moustakas got injured in May of last year has undoubtedly been the best period of his career. Let these stats speak for themselves.
- Before 2015: .236 BA, 16.7 K%, 6.4 BB%, 26.3 Hard Hit %, 82 wRC+
- After 2015: .277 BA, 12.2 K%, 7.2 BB%, 32.5 Hard Hit %, 120 wRC+
So obviously, the numbers easily speak for themselves. Moustakas made a change in between 2014 and 2015. He was posting better plate discipline and making better contact. Those changes turned him from a hitter that was 18% below league average into a hitter that is 20% above league average.
What Changes Were Made?
Arguably the biggest thing that helped aid the breakout of Mike Moustakas was the much improved plate discipline. It was all pretty simple, as he just showed an improved mentality at the plate.
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He was swinging at pitches less often outside the zone and was just waiting for his pitch, as his Strike% increased slowly every year. So from just a quick glance at Brooks Baseball, his strike zone has shrunken over the past couple of years.
Obviously, another important thing is how he has hit the ball. Everybody knows in the past coupe of years, Moustakas has significantly gone to the opposite field more.
From 2013 to 2016 for the KC Royals, his opposite field percentage has increased significantly every year.
Take this for example too. In 2013 and 2014, Moustakas batted .200 and .205, respectively, on balls put in play on the opposite field. In 2015 an 2016, he batted .366 and .321, according to Fangraphs. He is just simply making better contact. And now that Moustakas can go to the opposite field, he can beat the shift way more often. Which of course equals more hits.
Can He Keep It Up?
Mike Moustakas so far has knocked down any questions of him coming back to full form, producing a nice .951 OPS. The projections like him too. Steamer Projections predict he’ll lead the Royals in WAR, at 3.1, along with a nice triple slash line of .267/.329/.468.
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I would think this could be an even better year for Moustakas. His K% and B% are heading the right, he keeps hitting the ball hard, he’s entering the prime age of a hitter, and he’s in a contract year. If he has the year many think he’ll have, Scott Boras and him will have a nice winter to look forward to.