What do the Kansas City Royals Really Have in Mike Moustakas?

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I originally wrote the bulk of this article on August 14, 2015. Moose was mired in an awful, awful slump. Since that time, he has gone .317 / .488 / .732 over 41 AB with 4 HR, 5 doubles, 11 RBI, 7 BB, and only 3 K. As a result, which often happens when researching for a piece for Royals Blue (numbers sure do have a way of messing up irrational opinions), my tone shifted.

It is no longer “What’s wrong with Moose?”

It is now “Would the real Mike Moustakas please stand up?”

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As I was scrolling down his Baseball-Reference page in preparation for this article, I caught myself when I saw the “All-Star” logo, thinking “When the hell was he an all-star?” (again, this was before his recent 10 game streak of maple terror). Of course, the answer is 2015. Ya know, that all-star game that took place less than two months ago. All the way back in July.

Even beyond my poor old addled brain’s general inability to remember stuff, it felt like it had been a while since we had seen All-Star performance from our third baseman. Unfortunately, July and August saw him go frigid cold. Even by typical #Moose standards.

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas bobbles a ground ball by Detroit Tigers' Delmon Young in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. Moustakas was charged with an error on the play. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

It’s safe to say no one expected him to quite keep up the pace at which he started this season. Through June 26 (70 games), he was batting .327/.379/.475, with 7 HR, 30 RBI, 37 R, and a 2 K/BB ratio.

Project those stats out to a 162 game season: 16 HR, 69 RBI, 86 R, and 194 hits. Yes, through 40% of the season Mike Moustakas was on pace for almost 200 hits. Up there with the likes Altuve or Cabrera (and I don’t mean Melky (though he did have 201 hits for our boys in blue in 2011)). Those are huge numbers, especially considering he was doing it while batting second.

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It is even more impressive considering the before-mentioned Mike Moustakas standard. From 2012-2014, he averaged the following: .229/.284/.379 with 16 HR, 56 RBI, 52 R and a 2.65 K/BB ratio. The flip-the-ball-around-the-field batting approach he adopted this off season has had a significant effect on his ability to drive in runs, get on base and score runs. Those are three pretty important things.

However, from game 70 to game 115 (again, August 14th), we saw much more the 2012-2014 Moose. Over those 45 games, Moose hit .173/.323/.293 with 23 hits, 4 HR, 4 doubles and 13 RBI. Project those 45 games out to a 162 season: 83 hits, 14 HR, 47 RBI, and 47 R. Numbers that are a significant step down from his career average. That’s a long and brutal slump.

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Oddly enough, he stayed at least somewhat productive at the plate with 15 walks and 5 HBP, a weird outlying stat that saw his K/BB ratio actually drastically improved to 1.2. This, coupled with the fact that our club is overall playing its best baseball since 1977, kept the #Royals Twitter machine off his back for the most part.

Who is the real Mike Moustakas? Maybe I am drinking the Kool-Aid (oh yeah!), but based upon two specific stats, I think the overall numbers we see from 2015 Mike Moustakas are really him. In 430 AB, Moose has a 1.44 K/BB ratio, almost half his 2012-2014 mark. He is also slugging .444, which is 65 point higher than his 2012-2014 average.

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This includes every peak and valley of 2015 (his unrealistic hot start, his unbelievably awful slump and his recent resurgence). Mike Moustakas is proving to be a much more patient and selective hitter, while concurrently hitting for more power. It’s funny how those things work together …

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Author: Zach Hodson

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