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Mike Moustakas shifted his game to beat the shift

Mike Moustakas shifted his game to beat the shift
mike-moustakas-shifted-his-game-to-beat-the-shift
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In the first http://www.officialnuggetsshop.com/authentic-10-arron-afflalo-jersey.html inning Wednesday, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas steps in against Cubs righty John Lackey and laces a single up the right-field line. "MOOOOOOOOOSE," chant the happy thousands. Third inning, second at-bat, Moose steps in again ... and slaps a single to left-center past the shortstop. And again, Royals fans go nuts. Because, like everybody in baseball, they're getting used to something new: The new Mike Moustakas. The man called Moose has given the game something to think about: In an age when scoring is way down, when technology favors the pitcher between the information it provides and the defensive positioning it enables, a guy with a bat and a plan can beat you. In 2010, the 30 major league teams shifted a total of 2,464 times. By 2014, that number had gone up more than 500 percent, to 13,298. If the book was out that a player is a pull hitter, odds are he's going to face a defensive shift. Moustakas was a pull hitter facing a lot of shifts -- as Ben Lindbergh wrote last year, teams were shifting on him 70.7 percent of the time. He'd talked about changing his game to adjust, but in 2014, he didn't deliver, finishing with a .212 average and also earning a brief mid-season demotion to Triple-A Omaha. Royals manager Ned Yost said, "2014 was Mitch Richmond Womens Jersey when they really started shifting him, and it kinda just blew his mind. And then he got into the mindset of, 'I'm going to beat this,' and hit his head against a wall." So the book was out on Moustakas. Pull hitter, a guy you could get the better of. He knew it, and he knew he had to do something about it. He had a hint of what was possible after he got red-hot during the Royals' 2014 postseason run, hitting five home runs -- but also getting things going with a bunt single against the shift in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Angels. "I knew I was a better hitter than .212," Moustakas said. "I really couldn't go back out there and hit .212 again, I couldn't let that happen. And I was so stubborn, coming up in the minor leagues, all I wanted to do was pull the ball. And pulling the ball got me sent down to Triple-A." They say the first step is recognizing you need help. Moustakas went out and got it, starting with a tough conversation with hitting coach Dale Sveum about how to really become a hitter who could adapt and win within the game of adjustments that defines success or failure for every player. "I went up to Dale and said, 'what do I Tayshaun Prince Youth Jersey need to do to stick around a lot longer? Because I love playing in the big leagues,' " Moustakas said. "And Dale was like, 'this is what we gotta do.' And I bought in from the first day." The simple answer? Moustakas was going to have to show opponents that he could hit the ball to the opposite field. It might sound easy; it isn't. Remember what Moustakas was trying to do: In effect, trying to change everything he knew about how to succeed at the plate, learned from his earliest experiences in thousands upon thousands of at-bats all the way from T-ball through Triple-A, adjusting his swing path within his at-bats, and doing something he hadn't really done before. Against the highest level of competition. And making it work. "It's very, very hard to do," Yost said. "I tried to do it when I was a player, and I couldn't do it. I was a dead pull hitter, and I couldn't do it." "It's hard, and at this level you really don't know until you sell out and try it," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. Ever the problem-solver, Sveum observed. "It's basically turning a switch. You've got to get that part of your brain working, and he did it and did it really well. It's asking, 'how can we reprogram something,' and he committed all year and all spring training last year, every single batting practice, never tried to pull a ball, and had a great spring training that way." "He's got the brains and the talent. But he's http://www.officialtimberwolvesshop.com/authentic-23-kevin-martin-jersey.html also got tremendous drive, which at times in his career has hurt him. At times, he would press," Yost said. "He went in to the winter last year and he said, 'Look, I'm not going to let this shift beat me.' He came back to spring training the next year and was driving ball the other way, and it's nice to see it in BP, but can you translate that into the game? And right there, from Day 1, boom, he brought it into the game."

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