Remember how, about 18 months ago, Dayton Moore made some comment about the Royals being a team capable of winning 15 out of 20 games? Remember how they did it? Remember how a little over a week ago the Royals were in the seventh game of the World Series? And remember how we all wondered if maybe Moore knew what he was doing with The Process and all that?
Most of all, do you remember how I said that October of 2014 pretty much gives Dayton (and Ned Yost) some goodwill so to speak. Should they say or do something crazy, it would be kind of strange to be critical. You know… Game Seven and all that.
Damn if Dayton isn’t testing that pledge. From McCullough:
“With every young player, they’re going to go through ups and downs,” Moore said during a news conference on Wednesday. “But we feel Moose has a chance to potentially win an MVP some day. That’s how we feel about his ability. I think in the postseason, you saw him embrace the moment. A lot of big hits.”
The above quote is the equivalent of me saying I quit blogging and then having a dump truck full of Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts overturn in my driveway. Well, hello… I mean it’s freaking Royal blogger catnip.
Mike Moustakas has 1,993 regular season plate appearances in his major league career. In that time, he’s hit a collective .236/.290/.379 with a RC+ of 82. I’m going to use Baseball Reference’s Play Index, so I’ll also note his OPS+ during that time is 82.
Since Moustakas’s debut in 2011, here is the complete list of players who have accumulated over 1,990 plate appearances and posted an OPS+ less than or equal to 82:
Seriously. That’s the list.
It’s amazing the Royals have two of the three players. But let’s not question The Process.
Anyway, Moustakas is not a very good major league hitter. In fact, he’s pretty awful at that. Which seems kind of key when you’re talking about a potential MVP. The next table is even more alarming. Moustakas’s career numbers:
|162 Game Avg.
Do you notice something? Do you notice how all of his batting average and OPB have declined every single season. And his slugging percentage has dropped in each of the last two years? We’re talking about his age 22 to age 25 seasons. When he’s supposed to get better. And his production has declined almost every year. Declined. In his mid twenties. You can do all the searches you want for similar players who have done such and such through the first four years of their career or their first 2,000 plate appearances. But I would wager you would have a difficult time finding someone who has had so many chances at playing time and had their production drop from well below average to so far below average you need a telescope to find him.
Second, let’s talk about October Moustakas for a moment. Yes, he hit some big home runs. Yes, he is the new Royals home run leader for most home runs in a single postseason. And yes, his defense was outstanding and provided one of the signature moments of the entire month.
He hit .231/.259/.558 for the entire postseason.
If we learned anything from October, it’s that postseason production is magnified in a way that is similar to April. Hit five home runs in the first two weeks of the season and people sit up and take notice. Hit five home runs in July and it’s not really a big deal. Hit five home runs in October and you are a potential MVP candidate. And so it goes.
Now, he also had some really good plate appearances. He seems to be working the count better. But he’s still swinging at too many pitcher’s pitches and getting himself out. That’s what he does. It’s who he is.
This is simply a theory and I have no proof either way, but it seems to me a when a team goes deep in the postseason it creates a kind of off-season stasis. Something obviously worked, so why mess (too much) with success. Moustakas is under team control for the next three seasons. The Royals won the pennant. Moustakas hit home runs and played quality defense. Therefore, there’s no reason to look for an upgrade at third. I don’t think Moustakas is going to markedly improve. He may better his numbers, but with nearly 2,000 plate appearances under his belt, this is who he is. Certainly, it’s possible something “clicks” and grows leaps and bounds beyond where he is currently. But given his track record of declining production, I view that as unlikely.
The Royals do like to talk up their players. And they have a pennant. They do know what they’re doing. So I’m not criticizing. I’m disagreeing.
The single caveat to all this is Dayton Moore said it. So despite every bit of evidence to the contrary, I fully expect Moustakas to be your 2015 AL MVP.