While the KC Royals enjoyed an odd weekend day off but still made three changes to their roster, former Royal star Mike Moustakas spent Sunday in Houston playing first and third bases for the Angels, his newest baseball home since Colorado traded him to Los Angeles in late June. He went 0-for-3.
But don't let his hitless day fool you.
Moustakas has, in a season split between the Rockies and Angels, rediscovered the bat he seemed to have lost during three depressing seasons with Cincinnati. He isn't bashing home runs as frequently as he did in Kansas City, but no longer does he struggle at the plate like he did with the Reds.
Simply put, The Moose is hitting again, which should be welcome news to Kansas City fans to whom he endeared himself as a solid third baseman and one of the leaders of the Royals' World Series teams of 2014 and 2015.
The former KC Royals fan favorite is having his best season in years
To appreciate how well 2023 is being to Moustakas is to understand the near debacle that constituted his three Cincinnati seasons. The Reds gave him $64 million for four years (plus a team option for 2024) to join them beginning in 2020, and he never measured up to the mega-deal. Instead, plagued by injuries that unquestionably affected his performance at the plate and in the field, he played only 184 times for the Reds before they cut him loose in January.
So the four years became three, over which Moose hit .216 and managed just 21 homers, ghastly numbers indeed for the slugger who hit at least 20 homers five times for Kansas City, including a then-club record 38 in 2017, and slammed 35 for Milwaukee two years later.
The Rockies picked him up, but by late May it seemed changing clubs wasn't going to make much difference. Not playing regularly for Colorado manager (and former KC pitcher) Bud Black, Moustakas had only two homers and was hitting .241 when the Rockies arrived in Kansas City for a three-game series to open June. The future didn't look good for Moustakas, prompting us to encourage Royals fans wanting what might be their last look at him to show up for the series.
He played only once that weekend, but treated his Kansas City following to a nice 2-for-4 performance. Perhaps that good day with the bat sparked something — Moose is slashing .285/.330/.503 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs since, and those nine homers are more than he hit in any single season with the Reds.
For the year, covering 47 games with Colorado and 37 with LA, Moustakas is batting .268 and has 11 homers and 41 RBIs. If his season ended now, that average would be the highest he's turned in since 2017 (.272), the homers would be the most he's hit since 2019 (35), and the RBIs would be the most he's posted since 2019 (87).
He's also working regularly for Angel manager Phil Nevin, who's played him at third base, the position he played so well for the Royals, 23 times, and at first, where he didn't play for them until his last season with the club (2018), 20 times.
It's probably too early to tell whether the Angels will want Moustakas back next year. If they decide to move on from him, but he finishes this season with decent numbers, don't be surprised to see other clubs look him up.