The Transformation of Royals All-Star Mike MoustakasFollow @RoyalsBlue_com
One year ago, he was playing so bad, he was sent to Omaha. Now, he’s the Royals All-Star Third Baseman
He’ll never hit. He’s a liability in the field. His real name should be Mou-suck a**. When will Ned Yost play Danny Valencia or Christian Colon and Dayton Moore cut his losses and move on?
This was just a small sample of things that were said about Mike Moustakas last year by Royals fans, including myself. These were things that were said by the same fans who voted 19.3 million times to make Mike Moustakas the 7th Royals All Star in 2015, a team record. What a difference one year makes.
Last year, Mike Moustakas was hitting a paltry .192/.257/.371. He did have 10 home runs, but, could not figure out how to beat the defensive shift that opposing teams would put on expecting him to pull the ball (which he did quite often). He was hitting so bad that Ned Yost played Danny Valencia over Moustakas and, eventually, Moustakas was sent down to the minors.
Mike did rebound in the 2nd half to bring his batting average to .212, but, this was hardly what the Royals expected when he was drafted 2nd overall in 2007. This is hardly what they expected when they moved Alex Gordon to left field (worked out well for him though) to make room for Moustakas at third.
Then the postseason happened. Moustakas hit 15 home runs in 140 games played last year for the Royals. He hit 5 home runs in 15 games during the Royals improbable run through the postseason, breaking the previous record of 4 set by Willie Aikens in 1980. He not only performed well at the plate, but, his glove was fantastic (all but sealing the Orioles fate in Game 3 of the ALCS). Kansas City feel in love with “MOOOOOOSSSSEEEE” all over again.
This year, Moustakas is a legitimate All Star. He is batting .297/.353/.427 in 78 games played so far. His defense is Gold Glove caliber (it’s just overshadowed by the spectacular plays other Royals make on a nightly basis). He’s hitting to the opposite field and he’s playing team ball. His home run numbers are down, but, he has almost as many hits through 78 games (89) as he did all of last year (97).
A lot of the credit goes to Moustakas himself. He put in a lot of work in the offseason on how to beat the infield shift and drive the ball the other way. He takes what the defense gives him and he’s not above laying down a bunt down the third base line if nobody is there. He plays team ball and he’s a great team player. He once was considered to be a 30 home run guy. He now is asked to get on base for the guys in the middle of the lineup and does his job well.
A lot of credit also goes to Ned Yost. Yost is quite possibly the best manager in baseball for developing young talent. He’s patient with young players like Moustakas, even with all the struggles and setbacks early on in Moustakas’ career. In a game that demands winning and winning now, he stuck with him and never gave up faith in him when other managers would have.
People thought Dayton Moore was crazy when he said “Moustakas has MVP potential”. While Moustakas isn’t there yet, you can see him coming of age. He’s earned this spot, and Royals fans made sure he gets to go to Cincinnati. People love stories of the hero who struggles and then comes back to save the day. Mike Moustakas is that hero.
Yep, what a difference one year makes.
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