It has been an odd year in baseball. Take a look at the home run leaders and there are several players no one expected to be there. Many of the players have already exceeded their season projections in home runs.
Aaron Judge, Logan Morrison, Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Schebler, Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso are big surprises with their power output. One player that is tied for third in home runs that shouldn’t be a surprise is Mike Moustakas.
The Kansas City Royals‘ third baseman was undervalued in drafts and he was someone I pimped hard here at Scout Fantasy to the #ScoutArmy. I didn’t expect this many home runs this early in the season, but Moustakas was an easy pick to make.
Moustakas fell in drafts because of recency bias. He had his season cut short last season due to a torn ACL. I was high on Moustakas going into last season and had him on many teams because of the same reasons I was high on him in 2017. He was the second overall pick in 2007 and crushed pitchers in the minor leagues. He hit 20 home runs in his first full season, but then followed with 12 and 15 home runs and was labeled a bust. While the surface numbers weren’t great, the underlying stats showed he was making steady improvement.
In 2015, he batted .284 with 73 runs, 22 home runs, 82 RBIs and an .817 OPS. He had a 12.4 percent strikeout rate compared to 20.2 percent in 2012, his first full season. Last season, Moustakas played in 27 games in 2016 and had seven home runs in 104 at-bats. He was on his way to a career-high in home runs before the knee injury. It was a small sample size, but his hard hit rate jumped 5.9 percent to 37.4 percent. Moustakas was a good player getting better each year in the prime of his career at age 28. Each year, he was going to the opposite field more.
While Moustakas is striking out more and walking less, he’s batting .278 with 34 runs, 18 home runs, 40 RBIs and an .882 OPS. He is hitting a lot of fly balls with a 45 percent rate and has a hard hit rate of 35.1 percent. He has become a lot more aggressive at the plate, swinging at way more pitches out of the strike zone and more pitches in the strike zone. The swinging strike percentage of 11.1 percent is a career high and it shows he’s confident in hitting any pitch.
This isn’t a fluke and the power is legit. The home park in Kansas City is not ideal for power hitters and it definitely shows, as Moustakas has just six of his 18 home runs at home. Moustakas is a free agent at the end of the season and the Royals could deal him. This would most likely only help him due to his current home stadium.
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