Buying Mike Moustakas

Being that we’ve only completed about two weeks of the regular season, I like to preach patience above everything else when it comes to your fantasy team. Obviously there are some cases where waiver moves are a necessity, but when it comes to your struggling stars, patience is the key. Small sample sizes, law of averages, however you want to put it; so little time has passed with so much more to go and sometimes you just have to endure a couple of bad weeks to reap the quality benefits down the road. But not everyone subscribes to that theory and there are owners out there who are pained at the sight of their team near the bottom of the standings right now and have very itchy trigger fingers. If you are in need of help at the hot corner and you have one of those panicky owners sitting on Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, now might be the time to pounce.

Moustakas is definitely a frustrating character right now. Last season, he smacked 20 home runs with 73 RBI, but tormented his owners with a 20.2-percent strikeout rate and lengthy cold streaks that kept his average down at .242 for the season. He had begun the season quite hot actually and batted .315 with three homers for the first month, but as pitchers made adjustments, he failed to keep pace which resulted in major struggles throughout the year.

This season, things were supposed to be different. Moustakas spent a substantial part of his offseason tweaking his mechanics and changing his approach at the plate with the hopes of countering how pitchers were getting the better of him the year before. He wanted to be more aggressive but not to the point where he was up there hacking away at anything that might come near the strike zone. The results this spring appeared positive as he batted .394 with five home runs and 15 RBI and seemed completely locked in. Unfortunately, as the season began, the spring numbers failed to translate and right now he’s batting a woeful .158 with no home runs, a pair of runs scored and just one RBI. The numbers are downright atrocious and enough to send any owner running to the waiver wire and/or trading block — perfect conditions for you to steal him away.

A simple look into Moustakas’ swing rates and batted ball data are all you really need to see to understand that change for the better is on the way.

The splits don’t do month by month breakdowns of swing rates, but here’s a look at where he was last year overall compared to here in the first month. The inclusion of his half-season in 2011 further illustrates the changes he’s made to be more selective overall but more aggressive in the zone.

O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing%
2011 35.2% 68.2% 49.4%
2012 37.6% 66.7% 49.7%
2013 30.1% 71.4% 48.0%

With his batted ball data, you can see that his biggest issue right now is that he’s just getting under the ball too much. He’s making contact, but not solid contact. The results are a weak line drive rate, a fly ball rate that is completely out of whack and an infield fly rate which is beyond excessive.

2012 16.4% 33.8% 49.8% 17.6%
2013 12.5% 21.9% 65.6% 23.8%

Those, of course, lend to a woeful .186 BABIP which isn’t helping anyone. Perhaps it’s due to the abundance of cutters that he’s apparently seeing right now — 14.2-percent compared to 6.8-percent the years before. Or maybe it’s the fact that he’s looking at a ton of first-pitch strikes (29 in 42 PA) and falling behind in the count too quickly. Or maybe it’s a combination of both, coupled with the fact that he’s now pressing because of his competitive nature. Ned Yost gave him a day off recently, citing that Moose pushes himself too much when he’s struggling and just needs to take a step back and reassess everything.

And so, Moustakas and hitting coach Jack Maloof have gotten together and are working on the adjustments necessary to rebound from this horrible start. We saw him work out of a similar funk midway through last season and he saw his second half line drive rate increase from a 14.8-percent mark to an 18.4-percent, so we know that he is capable of recognizing and correcting some of the issues. Not to mention the simple fact that his fly ball rates simply can’t stay where they are. OK, maybe, theoretically they can, but they won’t. Those numbers will come down. He may still be a work in progress and it might take him another couple of weeks to get himself back on track, but he will. And when he does, everything else will fall into place.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

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I’m a little confused. You’re citing Moustakas’ improved plate discipline data that indicate changes for the better, but you’re dismissing his worsened batted ball data that indicate changes for the worse. Could it be that we just don’t know anything yet, and that perhaps he is just the same old Mike Moustakas?


My guess here would be that Moustakas’ discipline indicates a new approach, and the batted ball data indicates the results of the approach. Granting that the discipline is indeed a better approach (which of course isn’t necessarily an automatic thing to grant, as success can come with a variety of discipline types), then the results will eventually get better.

^ that’s at least what I’d guess Howard would say, and I think I agree with him.


Whoops, missed that he had replied.