Like a shark fin sticking out of the water, the adjustments always come a young hitter's way. The rookie slugger must be aware of it, must listen for the inevitable 'ba-dum' that signals the coming closer of the pitcher's adjustment, the catcher's fine tuning, the manager's handling of the at bat. Even if a hitter has success in his first few times around the league in the majors, the adjustments always come and the batter must be willing to change their approach and grow along the way, lest they fall like so many before them. That's the danger before Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Moustakas is hitting .100 over the last 7 days. He's hitting. 182 in the last two weeks. He's .145 in the last month. That's not just a slump, that's called flailing at the plate. That's the sign of a player not making the proper adjustments to whatever is being thrown to him -- he's not seeing the ball properly. And that makes life rough for not only Moustakas but for Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer who has to talk him down off whatever ledge he might be on and get him to focus on what's wrong.
Baseball is such an interesting sport -- as much mental as it is physical. In every sport, your mind can cripple your game, but perhaps next to golf, baseball is the one sport where you can truly be your own worst enemy. It's not that the numbers were ever pretty at the ML level for Moustakas, but they were at least respectable when he hit .265 in his first 16 games in June. From there, it's been the aforementioned nightmare and something has to give.
The Padres responded to Anthony Rizzo's hitting woes by sending him back to AAA and the results have been dynamic -- at least back in the minors. Perhaps Moustakas could use the same. Then again, some other rookies just need the chance to work it out without any fear of such repercussions. Again, the Padres took a chance on Cameron Maybin and now that he's truly coming out, he's crediting the chance to not worry about his place in the line-up as the thing that finally allowed him to relax at the major league level.
Perhaps Ned Yost and Dayton Moore are willing to just give Moustakas a blank check until he works it out -- at least this season. But at some point, Moustakas is going to have to make his own adjustments and find a way to make it work. It's the challenge before any young hitter and there's no avoiding the crucible for Moustakas.