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Mike Moustakas and the meaninglessness of spring training

Apr 15, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

Mike Moustakas AP

Every year lots of people act like spring training numbers mean something and every year they don’t. I guess there’s really no way of avoiding it, since everyone is so excited to have any kind of baseball to watch again after a long winter that they latch onto some random 20-game sample against varying degrees of competition.

Anyway, no one has exhibited the lack of spring training significance more than Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

He was on fire all spring, hitting .429 with four homers, seven doubles, more walks (11) than strikeouts (8), and a 1.290 OPS in 24 games. And now that the games actually count, Moustakas has hit .111 with zero line drives (yes, zero line drives) in 10 games.

And here’s the thing: It was the exact same story last season. Moustakas hit .444 with 11 total extra-base hits in 22 spring training games … and then hit .195 in April and .171 in May on the way to a horrible season.

I posted this mostly just to say “hey, let’s stop paying attention spring training numbers” rather than to specifically mock Moustakas, although at age 25 and with more than 1,500 very underwhelming plate appearances as a major leaguer the one-time top prospect could be running out of time in Kansas City.

  1. kruegere - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    If Moustakas goes on to have a good year, I’m going to write an article called:

    “Mike Moustakas and the meaninglessness of the first 11 games.”

    Wow, the Royals have only played 11 games.

    • brianincbus - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Apparently you missed the part where he mentioned how he was terrible last season too… so that would be more than 11 games.

      • kruegere - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Sometimes players have a ‘breakout’ season. You watch the game long enough and you’ll see it happen!

        Just stick with it, bud. I know you’re new to baseball, but this game is great.

    • echech88 - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      1500 big league ABs

      Reminds me of when the Angels just couldn’t let go of the dream of Brandon Wood.

      • classicfinder - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        There is a smart reply in there somewhere.

    • Andee - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      Ehhh, I don’t know, he played a lot more than 11 games last year. If not for the occasional pop in his bat, he’d be DFA for sure

    • panchanko1970 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      As a Royals fan you apparently have not kept up with Moose too much cause he just straight up sucks.

  2. Bob Loblaw - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Chase Utley is the exact opposite so far…horrendous Spring and he looked bad too. Now he’s one of the hottest hitters in baseball so far.

    • bronco58lb - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      That’s the other thing, I think sometimes hitters blow their load in spring training and then hit their valley when the regular season starts. And vice versa. It’s a game of streaks and slumps.

    • brandotho - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      Jeter also looked absolutely awful in the Spring, and he’s looked okay so far. .286 AVG, .375 OBP, 104 OPS+, 110 wRC+

  3. deepflakes - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Everyone was writing about Jason Kubel’s “slow bat” in spring training. I hope he keeps it up.

  4. bronco58lb - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    I think strikeout numbers by pitchers in spring training are telling. The majority of the time swing-and-miss stuff is going to translate.

  5. braddavery - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Moustakas is the epitome of “AAAA player”. But so was Chris Davis pre-2013. Hope Moose can pull a C-Diddy… he’s a good kid.

  6. bronco58lb - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    One other thing, the Cactus League and Arizona Fall League are hitters’ circuits and are notorious for inflated numbers.

  7. sportsdrenched - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    “although at age 25 and with more than 1,500 very underwhelming plate appearances as a major leaguer the one-time top prospect could be running out of time in Kansas City.”

    You underestimate Dayton Moore’s love affair with “his favorites”. Moustakas has never been sent back to the minors even though he clearly needs it.

    • yahmule - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Which is surprising because they had no qualms about sending Alex Gordon down when he struggled.

      • mboling52 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        All you have to do is attend a Royals game and hear all the “Mooooossseee” calls whenever he does anything. He sells tickets and souveniers. He deserves to be in Omaha, but it won’t happen.

  8. icanspeel - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    The thing about Spring numbers is.. how many AB’s were against MLB pitchers currently on MLB rosters? It’d be fun if there was an easy way to break it down.

    • sportsdrenched - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      And in Moustakas case. The harder infield, warmer temps, and low humidity. Arizona is close to hitting at Coors.

  9. yahmule - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    To stand out as a bad hitter in Kansas City this year is really saying something. These mutts have scored 32 runs and hit one home run as a team so far.

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