The Kansas City Royals have been receiving quite a bit of positive attention (for once) recently, thanks to their hot streak that ran up to 10 games and left them at the top of the American League Central. Even with their recent triumphs in mind, there are still some things that will likely hold this club back from being where they would like to be when it's all said and done this year, namely their consistently stagnant offense.
Their ability to score increased over the course of this near two week stretch, but this is a lineup that has had some serious issues plating runs throughout the season, as they remain at or near the bottom of the league in a number of statistical categories. And when you talk about the Royals' offense, no player in the bunch has been more anemic throughout the small sample size that is 2014 than Mike Moustakas.
The 2014 campaign hasn't been kind to a player that was once expected to be a part of a rising Kansas City Royals core. He spent a brief spell in the minor leagues at the tail end of May, going down on May 20th before coming back up and rejoining the big club on June 1st. In that brief time with Triple-A Omaha, Moustakas absolutely raked. He hit .356, reached base at a .412 clip, and knocked in five runs in just eight games. However, it's important to note the .417 BABIP that his journey to Nebraska also featured, as well as the fact that his strikeout and walk rates were almost identical to what he's done in the bigs this year.
And those numbers as far as what he has achieved in Kansas City this year aren't exactly what you would call pretty, or anything resembling a positive adjective.
There is literally not a single thing there that Moustakas could look at and be happy about. Since his return from the minors, there have been a couple of signs of improvement, a couple of flashes if you will. He's hitting .214 in June, the first time his average has been above the Mendoza line this year, and his wRC+ is up at 94, along with a .214 ISO. He's hitting better than he did in the first month-and-twenty-days. Yet, there are still some glaring deficiencies within his game that are stunting his growth and a return to his typical numbers (even if his career averages aren't anything to write home about).
The following data (courtesy of Brooks Baseball) represents what Moustakas has done against various pitch types at the Major League level this season:
Plenty of ugly stuff happening here. There's also a certain degree of bad luck when you look at his BABIP, particularly against fastballs. But his failure against fastballs in general is really quite disturbing. He's having actual success against offspeed and breaking stuff, but is completely overmatched against fastballs. While his results overall have been decent since his return to Kansas City, he's still hitting just .111 against fastballs. So there's improvement in a general numbers sense, but it's still a lot of the same issues that appear to be plaguing him. And those issues seem to center around his inability to stand up to opposing heat. This piece from Kings of Kauffman gives a little more insight into Moose having the opposite problem that Pedro Cerrano has. Warning: those numbers are NSFW.
That's not to mention the other issues within the game of Mike Moustakas. He strikes out too much and walks too little. Over the course of this Kansas City win streak, he was able to drive his batting average up almost 30 points, but his on-base percentage is all the way down at a paltry .175. He may continue to show glimmers of the player the Royals thought he could be this year, but that may be all Kansas City gets from him.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, it's time for the Royals to admit that Moustakas is nothing more than a AAAA guy and relegate him either to the bench, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle in pinch hit situations, or make his stay in Omaha more of a permanent situation.
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Randy Holt is a staff writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter: @RandallPnkFloyd.