Kansas CIty Royals: Will Mike Moustakas finally emerge?
I do have quite a few questions surrounding the Royals. I must admit, that as an Orioles fan, I was ecstatic last fall when the Birds drew Kansas City in the ALCS. I was not drinking the “pitching, defense, and timely hitting Kool-Aid,” but four games later, consider me a convert to the Ned Yost school of managing.
The Royals offensive approach does not concern me when I try to project their success this season. They hit only 95 home runs last season, bringing up the rear in the American League by a wide margin. Despite their lack of pop, KC was fourth in the league in doubles, second in batting average and had the fewest strikeouts. That is a recipe for success in any age of baseball, but especially the era we are in now, where the advantage has shifted back to the pitcher.
Anyone who has concerns about the long-term staying power of Kansas City should not be concerned about their offense. I believe Kansas City can score enough runs to keep themselves in any ball game, especially with their absolutely loaded bullpen. We witnessed the emergence of Lorenzo Cain in the postseason last year. He is only going to get better, and should be a force in their lineup.
The Royals player I am most interested in watching this year is Mike Moustakas. The third baseman had long been hyped as the next great third baseman, but the results have been very underwhelming to date. Moustakas has seen his batting average and on base percentage decline sharply each of the past two seasons. Last year, he slashed .212/.271/.361, all career lows.
Moustakas has just not lived up to expectations so far, but he is only 25, and gave us a flash of his capabilities in the postseason last year, hitting five home runs in 15 postseason games. I can’t quite put my finger on the cause of Moustakas’ struggles. He struck out in only 14.8% of his plate appearances, far below the MLB average of 19.7%. His BAbip was only .220, far below his career average of .260, which points to a bit of bad luck being in play.
I have never quite been able to put my finger on BAbip. Some statheads see it as a measure of luck, but to me, it is something more. Good pitchers should have a lower BAbip because they are more effective at inducing weak contact. It would stand to reason, in my opinion, then, that bad hitters would have a harder time making solid contact. A low BAbip cannot entirely be chalked up to bad luck.
Overall, I do expect a bounce back year from Mike Moustakas in 2015. He was rushed to the Majors, in my opinion, but he is only 25, and put up great numbers at every level in the minor leagues. I think he would ultimately benefit from a change in approach at the plate. Not striking out is great, but if it causes you to settle for weak grounders and pop ups, as I believe was the case for Moustakas in 2014, something needs to change. Moustakas is a powerful hitter when given the green light to let it rip. Both he and the Royals would benefit from taking the reins off in 2015.