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Revisiting Moustakas record-breaking season

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So many Moose bombs.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Kansas City Royals
Mike Moustakas tips his cap to the fans at the end of his home run-record-breaking season.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

You have probably heard that Mike Moustakas broke the Royals’ single season home run record last season, just as one particularly dashing writer predicted he would. The record had lasted nearly as many years as it had home runs - 32 versus 36. It’s unfortunate that late season leg injuries probably kept him from hitting 40 or more because that means the Royals are still the only major league franchise to not break that plateau.

It might be the smallest record and it might have been aided by a juiced baseball but it’s still the Royals’ record and it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. If you’re interested in watching it again - and what else are you going to do during this long, cold, silent winter - here’s a twitter thread from Shaun Newkirk with videos of the first 37 Moose bombs from 2017.

Since he failed to include #38, here’s a YouTube video with all of them. Plus some inspiring(?) music:

So that shows you what all the home runs looked like but one of the best parts of baseball is the sheer depth and breadth of numbers we can use to qualify things. So I thought it might be fun to break down Moose’s home runs using data that can be found on Baseball Savant’s StatTrack player data and Baseball Reference’s Player Event Finder or Home Run Log.

For example, you probably guessed that Mike hit most of his home runs off of fastballs - 11 off the four-seamer plus 6 more on two-seam straight pitches. But he also hit 11 off of change-ups despite the fact that he saw a third as many such pitches as the two types of fastballs combined. His slugging percentage on change-ups was the highest of any pitch at .779. Moose, though, hit at least 1 home run off of every classified pitch type for which he saw more than 2. There is not a definitively safe pitch to throw the slugging lefty.

He hit home runs number 22 and 31 in the first games of double headers but didn’t hit any in the back half of such contests.

While pitchers from Ariel Miranda to Yu Darvish couldn’t contain the Moose only two pitchers gave up more than one home run to Mike. Ervin Santana gave up numbers 1 and 21 while Reynaldo Lopez allowed 33 and 34 in back to back at-bats. Other old friends to give up blasts to the man who would wear antlers were Johnny Cueto, James Shields, and Dillon Gee - he gave up number 36.

Moose scored 38 of his 75 runs and knocked in 54 of his 85 RBIs with the long ball.

17 different opponents allowed at least a single dinger to Moustakas out of the Royals’ 20 faced; NL West opponents Los Angeles, Arizona, and Colorado were the only ones to avoid his thunder. Half of the stadiums in baseball failed to contain him. In fact, 24 of his bombs came on the road; that shouldn’t be surprising given the parking lot factor in KC. Moose hit most of his home runs from the six hole where he spent most of the season, but he had 12 from the 2-spot, 6 from the 5-hole and and even a single pop from the lead-off spot - a spot in the order he held for only 3 games.

#15 against Ken Giles was Moose’s second career walk-off home run.

Moose hit no grand slams, this year and only 5 3-run blasts. He had far more solo shots than all his multiple-run bombs combined. He hit only one home run all year when there was a runner at third - #30 was a three-run blast that included a runner at second, as well. That means he didn’t hit any home runs with a single runner at third or with runners at first and third the entire season. That home run against Giles was the one with highest Leverage Index as well as WPA. Number 7 and number 37 tied for the lowest Leverage Index at a flat 0 as each was late in a blow out. 11 of his home runs gave the Royals a lead, 5 of them tied the game.

He hit only a single oppo-blast - number 17 off Jose Torres in San Diego.

July was Mike’s best month; he hit 9 dingers. His worst month was September when he hit only 3. Each of those three tied or set the franchise single season record, though, so in some ways it was still the biggest month of his career.

2017 will long be remembered as the last push for the 2015 championship core that couldn’t quite get there. From a certain point of view the Royals have won two world series championships but only once have they had a player hit 38 home runs. So wouldn’t that qualify 2017 as an even greater success than 2015?

Poll

Would you rather the Royals make the playoffs or Moose break the record?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Moose breaks the record
    (3 votes)
  • 46%
    Make the playoffs
    (58 votes)
  • 4%
    Moose, but only if he had hit 40 home runs
    (6 votes)
  • 5%
    Playoffs, but only if they had made the world series.
    (7 votes)
  • 40%
    Why not both?
    (51 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now