Moustakas is part of the “new class” of third baseman, if you want to call it that. Coming to the Majors with much fanfare, many of them have failed to produce early on in their careers (take Brett Lawrie, for instance). Moustakas fits right in, having posted the following numbers in his first full season in the Major Leagues:
563 At Bats
.242 Batting Average (136 Hits)
20 Home Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.296 On Base Percentage
.412 Slugging Percentage
Billed as a potential up-and-coming star at third base, the numbers definitely don’t justify the hype. The question is, can he recover and prove his critics wrong in 2013?
One of the biggest problems he as faced since joining the Royals is that he has been prone to popping the ball up. Just look at his infield fly ball rates over the past two seasons (courtesy of Minor League Central):
- 2011 – 17.2%
- 2012 – 14.8%
Moustakas actually ranked second in the league in ’12 behind only Brendon Ryan. That is not the type of company you want to keep and, if he can’t fix the problem, it will put a significant ceiling on his production potential. That said, at Triple-A in 2011 (prior to his recall) he was at 9.8% so there definitely is hope.
The same thing can be said for his strikeout rate, which sat at 20.2% last season. In his first taste of the Majors he was at 14.0% and his two partial Triple-A seasons yielded marks of 10.6% and 17.6%. Again, there is hope for an improvement.
People will want to look back at his 36 HR season between Double and Triple-A in 2010 and hope that he can give that type of power performance. While it might be a stretch, there is definite room to grow. One thing will be to reduce the number of pop ups, something we should expect. The more you are hitting the ball well, the more opportunity you have to produce.
The other thing is that he is still just 24-years old. We have to give him time to grow and mature at the Major League level. If you simply looked at his first half production, you wouldn’t be so discouraged, as he hit .268 with 15 HR. It was the extended second half slump (.211 with 5 HR) that have us disappointed.
The league made its adjustments, and now it is time for a young hitter to make his. Will he definitely do it? Of course not, but his first half shows us that there is talent there and a few minor tweaks could yield the results we are looking for.
His upside makes him a player well worth utilizing in all formats. Considering him an ideal post-hype sleeper.
What are your thoughts of Moustakas? Do you think he will realize his potential in 2013? Is he a player you are targeting?
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Make sure to check out all of our 2013 projections: