Is Moose really that bad?

Jeff Gross

For most fans the Royals have been undeniably frustrating this year. Probably not as frustrating as their GM (I refuse to even recognize him with a name anymore) or Ned Yost but still to the point where at sometimes you've questioned whether or not you have hair left on your scalp to pull out. It’d be hard to argue that any player has been more frustrating or genuinely awful then Mike Moustakas. He has been historically awful this year with RISP (.059 AVG), at least questionable on defense, and is hitting 38% below league average. This is not at all what we were expecting or hoping from Moustakas. While he may not have been the messiah that Eric Hosmer was proclaimed to become, we were still hoping for a player that could possibly become an all-star caliber third basemen.

The silver-lining in this is that Moustakas actually isn’t this bad. I’m not sure he is that great but Moustakas has been undeniably unlucky this year. To prove this point lets first take a look at his batted ball profile and compare it to years past.














20.4 %

38.4 %

41.2 %

21.0 %

4.2 %

5.4 %

0.0 %




16.4 %

33.8 %

49.8 %

17.6 %

9.0 %

5.3 %

0.0 %




16.4 %

40.4 %

43.2 %

17.6 %

6.5 %

3.0 %

0.0 %


- - -


17.6 %

36.8 %

45.6 %

18.5 %

7.1 %

4.7 %

0.0 %

(Table from Fangraphs)

Moose is very similar to years past. He is hitting the exact same amount of line drives and infield fly balls as 2012. His FB rate has decreased and his GB% has actually went up, which should actually increase his BABIP. However, his BABIP in 2013 is down 34 points (.274 to .240). Moustakas also has walked nearly the same percentage of his plate appearances while actually decreasing his strikeout percentage by 7% (20.2% in 2012, down to 13.2% in 2013). All of these factors should contribute to Moose posting a much better BABIP this year then he has in the past.

The next most interesting factor to look at is Moose’s current HR/FB rate. Right now his HR/FB rate is an awful 6.5%. That’s not good and is below the league average. The most recent data I can find (2011 via Fangraphs) shows a league average HR/FB rate of 9.7%. Looking at Moose’s fly ball distance for the past three seasons there is no reason to conclude that his current HR/FB rate should be that much lower than his previous high of 9%. Here is his fly ball distance for this season and the previous two

2013: 274

2012: 279

2011: 267

First off, these are not impressive fly ball distances. Mike Moustakas, with his current average of 274, ranks 190th just behind Brett Gardner and Logan Shafer in fly ball distance. Obviously his average has decreased by 5 feet which is not a positive sign. However, I don’t think that warrants a decrease in his HR/FB rate by almost 2.5%.

Ultimately, after investigating this data I can't possibly conclude that Moose is truly as bad as his current statistics suggest. There are reasons to believe that Moustakas should be a lot more of the hitter of 2012 than he has been in 2013. He wasn’t an excellent hitter in 2012 (90 wRC+) but for an average or above-average defensive third basemen this is valuable. I was very close to writing Moose off as a bust but it’s important to remember Moose is still just 24 years old and has a lot to room to improve. So agree or disagree? Has Moose been unlucky or is he just a horrific player? Still have a chance to reach that ceiling or already exhausted his opportunity?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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