Last year, Mike Moustakas was told what no major leaguer ever wants to hear: that he was being sent down to the minors. But after starting the year 0-for-20 and hitting .157 in April and .158 in May, the Royals didn’t have much of a choice.
The minors, however, may have done Moustakas some good. He hit five home runs in the postseason and helped the Royals to within one run of a World Series championship.
“(Being sent down to the minors) was probably the lowest point of my career, but it ended up helping me out a lot,” the Kansas City third baseman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was just getting back to how I used to hit. It wasn’t really fixing anything. It was just kind of being a little more confident. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to have a good year and really didn’t do what I wanted to do in the beginning of the season. I started off 0-20 and after that, it was kind of downhill trying to battle to get some hits. I just went down and tried to feel comfortable again.”
Moustakas hit .263 in 89 games as a rookie in 2011. His average dropped in each of the next three years, from .242 in 2012 to .233 in 2013 to .212 in 2014.
But this year, Moustakas has changed his approach – less power, more contact – and is hitting .327 with a career-high .379 OBP.
“Where we play at Kauffman, it’s a pretty big yard,” Moustakas said. “If you go out there and you try to continue to hit home runs, you’re going to end up hitting like I did last year. You’re going to hit under .200. Instead of doing that, I really tried to change my game and use the other side of the field a lot more, which has resulted in a lot more average points and getting on base for these guys that can hit doubles in the gaps and hit home some runs every now and then. So it’s really helped me out using that other side of the field, spraying the ball all around the ball park and running into a homer every now and then.”
Moustakas, who averaged 15.7 home runs over the last three seasons, has just six this season, but he’s on pace for career highs in hits, runs and doubles.
He’s also one of seven Royals leading their respective positions in All-Star voting. Yes, as of now, it’s going to be Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout and the Kansas City Royals against the National League in the All-Star Game on July 14 in Cincinnati.
“We don’t really talk about it too much,” Moustakas said of the Royals-friendly voting. “We’re focused on going out there and trying to win baseball games. Each and every night, we’re going out and trying to win, but you see all the stuff on TV – it’s hard not to see. I think it’s crazy how many of our fans have come out and voted for us, showing how much impact we made last year during the postseason and how many people actually fell in love with the Kansas City Royals and the way we play baseball. I think it’s pretty cool.”