Reports of Mike Moustakas being in the best shape of his career started weeks ago. Newspaper reports and tweets were all confirming the same thing, Moustakas had lost weight and trimmed up. The problem is, the “best shape of his life” is such a regurgitated cliché in Spring Training, most fans roll their eyes at it and move on. Yet, for what it’s worth, tweets like this one from Sam Mellinger confirmed
Take it for what it’s worth, but Mike Moustakas is in Arizona, and I hear he looks in good shape. Lost weight, good muscle tone, etc.
On top of the weight loss, Moustakas has gone to great lengths to improve his batting stance also. Instead of relaxing this off-season, he traveled to South America to re-learn his swing, with some tweaks.
In Venezuela, he worked with Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol, the team’s manager. They’d leave the hotel every day around noon for the ballpark, where Moustakas would take some 300 pre-game swings with the primary purpose of stamping out the dead-pull in his swing.
The idea wasn’t to eliminate pulling the ball for Moustakas, a left-handed hitter, but only on pitches over the inside third of the plate.
Again, like the weight-loss, it could be promising. Or it could be another grasp at trying to be a better hitter that many struggling players reach for and never achieve, as the issues may be deeper.
So Royals fans were still, at best, cautiously optimistic. But last week Spring Training started, and the results appear to be paying off immediately. On Friday, Feb 28th, Moustakas looked calm and confident at the plate. In his first at-bat, Moustakas ripped a changeup for a two-run single and then next at-bat, hit a fastball off of Jose Conteras for an RBI single.
“He feels really good about all the work that he did this winter,” Yost said. “And to get some early results helps. It just kind of validates the work that he did.”
In his first 3 games he had 6 at-bats, collected 3 hits and 3 RBIs. But his biggest game so far was yet to come. On Sunday, Moustakas went 2-3 with 2 homeruns. Bringing him up to 5 for 9 this pre-season.
Obviously, this is way too small of a sample size. But it more has to do with how he is seeing the ball than the end results. According to this ESPN article
“It’s about seeing as many pitches as you can,” Moustakas said. “I’ve been seeing the ball pretty good as of late and I am trying to keep seeing the pitches, working the at-bats and fighting with two strikes.”
“We are trying to work on things right now,” Moustakas said. “Results are nice, but we are trying to work on driving the ball, getting good pitches to hit and when you get to two strikes, battle.”
So fans should remain optimistic, though still cautiously. But with results that appear to be as much from a cause and effect (weight loss/change in hitting = production) as opposed to luck or over-reading a small sample, it is at least a good start to what could be the year Royals’ fans have always expected and hoped for from Mike Moustakas.