Moustakas: Pop Up Royalty


Bad swing mechanics are holding the Moose back

Mike Moustakas had a nice season with the Royals after a somewhat disappointing rookie season. He ended up hitting 20 HRs, but was only able to muster a .242 AVG which contributed to a sub .300 OBP. One of the main culprits for the low average was a high infield fly ball (IFFB) percentage at 18% (the 2nd highest total in 2012 with players that had a minimum of 600 PAs). This value was down from the 21% value he had in 2011. Most IFFB are automatic outs and are huge drag on player's batting average. For Moustakas to bring the number down, he will need to change his mechanics on how he handles high and inside pitches.

Moustakas started out the 2012 on fire by hitting .268/.327/.490 with 15 HR in the first half of the season. Over the second half of the season he hit only .211/.261/.325 with 5 HR. While his overall stats dropped over the 2nd half of the season, he kept a high IFFB% from month to month.

Month IFFB%
Mar/Apr 15.4%
May 19.0%
Jun 17.5%
Jul 15.8%
Aug 11.8%
Sept/Oct 22.0%

Normally a player has around an IFFB% around 9% to 10% as seen here by some other Royals

Mike Moustakas 18% 0.274
Yuniesky Betancourt 18% 0.226
Chris Getz 17% 0.299
Johnny Giavotella 11% 0.290
Lorenzo Cain 11% 0.319
Jeff Francoeur 11% 0.272
Eric Hosmer 10% 0.255
Alcides Escobar 10% 0.344
Alex Gordon 9% 0.356
Salvador Perez 8% 0.299
Jarrod Dyson 6% 0.318
Mitch Maier 5% 0.231
Brayan Pena 4% 0.253
Billy Butler 3% 0.341

Most of the regular Royals had an IFFB% between 8% and 11%.

The biggest cause of IFFB is from contact made at pitches that are high and inside. If someone wants to read too much on the subject of IFFB, I wrote about the subject yesterday at What I found is that how hitters swing at high and inside pitches has a lot to do with their pop up rate. Even though this pitch is near the edge of the called strike by umpires, it is called a strike over 75% of the time, so hitters can't just lay off the pitch.

To show the difference with Moustakas, I will compare his swing to Butler's. The following is couple of animated GIFs on each hitter handling high inside pitches on 0-0 counts.







Besides the two GIFs, here are some images of the pair when they are at the time of contact on the pitches that are high and inside (embiggen).


The biggest problem with Moustakas is that he really drops his back elbow. At times it drops below his waist. By dropping his back elbow that much, his swing will be exaggerated upward and the ball will follow this upward path. While Butler is no perfect in keeping his elbow up (far left image), he does a much better job than Moustakas.

The second problem Moustakas experiences is how he positions himself on the inside part of the plate. This placement helps he cover the outside part of the plate better, but he just gets destroyed when he is pitched inside. He moves his hip out to make contact with the solid part of the bat. This movement lifts/slides his front off its plant position. His front ankle looks like it is getting twisted/broke each time he swings at an inside pitch. On the other hand, Butler is able to plant his foot and maintain its position throughout making contact.

Moose's will always have problems with IFFB unless he works on changing his swing a bit to handle high and inside pitches. He has had too many IFFB the last two seasons and it has been a drag on his batting average. If Moustakas does't find a way to make better contact with the inside pitch, his upside will be limited.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.