Kansas City Royals: Mike Moustakas and the Curse of Steve Balboni

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 15: Mike Moustakas
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 15: Mike Moustakas /
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BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 02: Mike Moustakas
BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 02: Mike Moustakas /

Trying Too Hard

It might seem ridiculous to suggest a player who has featured in two World Series could succumb to the pressure of a home run record. But when a player has been on the cusp of a record this long, it’s human nature to have that in the back of your mind.

Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals /

Kansas City Royals

Every single time he comes to the plate, Moustakas knows this could be the plate appearance he breaks the record. It’s a different kind of pressure than just batting in the postseason, where any kind of hit will benefit the team.

The home run-or-bust approach that has engulfed the league has also creeped into the Kansas City Royals this season—much more than in those playoff seasons of 2014 and 2015.

The problem with Moustakas’ drought is that it has encompassed his entire offensive game. He does not have a single run driven in since his home run on Sept. 1. He also had just two RBI between his 35th and 36th home runs. Since Aug. 12, Moustakas has a total of six RBI—half of which came on the homer in Minnesota.

He hasn’t been hitting for much power lately either. Just two of Moustakas’ 10 hits since homer No. 36 have gone for extra bases. Dating back to Aug. 16, he has five doubles and one home run out of his 19 hits. In that same time frame, his batting average has fallen from .284 to .271 and his slugging percentage has plummeted from .566 to .522.

That’s a sign of more than just injuries or fatigue. There’s a definite mental component to his struggles over the past month.