In 18 at-bats, Mike Moustakas is currently hit-less with three walks and four strikeouts. Despite vowing to never take his offensive struggles onto the field with him, he also has the Kansas City Royals‘ lowest fielding percentage to date after committing two errors on just 11 total chances. After fans were lulled into a state of justifiable optimism by Moose’s sensational spring stats, nothing came from his hot start in Arizona. Just like the season before, Moustakas was once again unable to translate preseason success into immediate regular season production.
The Royals are tied with the Cleveland Indians at 1.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the division, and despite a couple heartbreaking losses to start the season, they’re looking to push their record above .500 tonight and never look back. In what could potentially be a grueling, season-long divisional race, KC can only give Moose so many chances before Danny Valencia takes a bigger role against left-handed pitching.
That won’t be a concern as of now, with Moustakas and Valencia both in the lineup due to Omar Infante‘s face injury sustained via the Heath Bell heater last night. In the future, however, with the lineup around him proving itself in spades, the Royals can’t afford to leave in such a glaring hole. It’s a frightening and upsetting thing to say about a player who so recently showed such tremendous upside, but the clock is officially ticking for Moustakas.
The small sample size should do little to dissuade critics this time, as 18 AB’s should be more than enough time to do something after such incredible success just days beforehand, but it does remind fans that there is a lot of baseball left to play. We should also be mindful that two of his five games played came against Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, so maybe tonight’s at-bats against the young Chris Archer could mark the beginning of a needed bounce-back.
Tampa Bay Rays starter Archer is getting plenty of praise lately and coming off a seven strikeout, six-inning start. Despite his potential, Archer is still far from perfect with his fastball command this year. Perhaps, if the baseball gods are kind, Moose can get himself and the Royals off the schneid at the same time by connecting for the first KC homer of 2014 tonight. Without a hit tonight, fans will be left to wonder how long Moustakas can go before finding his swing, and how long the Royals can keep him in the lineup without him doing so.