Moustakas, Betancourt and Right-Handed Pitching

ANAHEIM CA - JULY 11: U.S. Futures All-Star Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals at bat during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

When the Royals signed Yuniesky Betancourt, one reason given for him being signed bothered me. That Royals said that Yuni was to give Moustakas a break against left-handed pitching as stated here by the KC Star:

The Royals, Moore said, needed someone to back up Alcides Escobar. They coveted a right-handed bat to spell Mike Moustakas against tough left-handed pitching ... But for now, the plan is to have the right-handed hitting Betancourt back up Escobar, spell Moustakas, and compete for playing time at second base.

Last season, Ned Yost would not even consider pinch hitting for Escobar with the game on the line so Escobar could learn to hit in pressure situations. Is Moustakas that bad against LHP, that the Royals need to already consider him a platoon option? Let's take a look:

Here are Moustakas' MLB stats from last year:

vs. RHP: 0.289/0.327/0.414 in 267 PAs

vs. LHP: 0.191/0.258/0.236 in 98 PAs

It is a fairly significant split, but he has only 51 PAs vs LHP. Not exactly a sample size to write home about. Here are Yuni's on the other hand:

vs. RHP: 0.266/0.287/0.382 in 2764 PA

vs. LHP: 0.275/0.308/0.421 in 818 PAs

Yes, you are reading that correctly, the Royals are wanting to sub in a player that barely has a 0.300 OBP for one of the franchise's possible future cornerstones.

A player's platoon values will begin to show up while they are in the minors. With over 1900 minor league PAs, Moustakas' horrible split should have been evident before the majors. Finding good minor league platoon splits is difficult. I was able to find his splits from 2010 and before at drivelinebaseball.com. Here are his combined minor league numbers:

vs. RHP: 0.295/0.353/0.539 in 1145 PA

vs. LHP: 0.254/0.313/0.433 in 517 PAs

Moustakas had a decent platoon split in the minors, but is it really enough to platoon him with Betancourt. I just don't buy it.

Even though I like the idea of platooning and in this situation, it may be a small bit helpful, the idea is asinine. You have one of MLB's top prospect that just turned 23 and you plan benching him for maybe a couple of runs over the course of the season. Since the team has already admitted they have little chance of contending in 2012, they might as well give Moustakas as many chances against left-handed pitchers to become more familiar with them. If the Royals want to be able to win in the next few years, Moustakas has to continue to develop and that development is not going to happen if Yuni is starting instead of him.

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