One year ago today, on July 10, 2014, the Detroit Tigers were in town for a showdown between the AL Central's top two teams. The starting third baseman for Kansas City was Danny Valencia, who started nearly all of the Royals' games against left-handed starters. The team's other third baseman, fourth-year pro Mike Moustakas, sported a 192/257/376 line.
Fast forward to today, just 365 days later, and Mike Moustakas is an All-Star.
On this date last year, Moustakas had 44 hits. This season, he has 87 hits.
It's pretty amazing that a career .232 hitter has had an All-Star caliber year, but that's exactly what the Royals talked about when they preached about Moustakas being "fixed" in spring training. We've heard that narrative before. We've mocked and laughed at the team for being wrong in the past. This year, it appears they were right.
As far as the game, the Toronto Blue Jays, possessors of the American League's best run differential (+82), ride into Kauffman Stadium having slumped back to .500. The sluggers north of the border have accounted for an MLB-best 470 runs, but the 388 they've allowed is just one fewer than the AL-worst Tigers. Needless to say, pitching will be a key factor in this series. The Royals should continue to put up runs as they have all week, but a good start from Danny Duffy seems critical if Kansas City hopes to win their sixth straight game tonight.
Speaking of Moustakas, he returns after a four-day period on the bereavement list. With the exception of Alex Gordon, Kansas City's starting nine are what they were the first week of the season. The lineup for tonight is as follows:
New Vision Lineup: Escobar 6, Moustakas 5, Cain 7, Hosmer 3, Morales DH, Perez 2, Infante 4, Rios 9, Dyson 8, Duffy 1. #royals— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) July 10, 2015
It is worth mentioning that there is a typo in McCullough's tweet, as Lorenzo Cain will play his normal position of center field while Jarrod Dyson takes left for the second straight game.
The visiting Canadians will take the field for the first of seven matchups with the Royals like this. Ironically, the Blue Jays' starting third basemen is none other than the man who took so much of Moustakas' playing time last season, Danny Valencia.
Tonight will likely be the biggest ovation that Mike Moustakas has ever received in his tenure in Kansas City. The combination of his return from absence and his All-Star selection will prompt a likely sellout crowd to shower him with deafening "Moose" calls.
Coming from one of his biggest critics from the four painful years that he put forth, he absolutely deserves every decibel of it.