In the second inning of the Royals’ 11-3 blowout of the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, Brandon Moss hit a rocket down the right-field line for an RBI double. Five innings later, Moss hit a three-run homer. The ball was hit so hard, the Twins’ right fielder never moved.
Brandon Moss loves playing in Kauffman Stadium.
When asked why, Moss says he sees the ball really well at The K and the numbers back him up.
This season while playing on the road, Moss has hit .139 and slugged .299. At home Moss has hit .255 and slugged .539. Despite Kauffman’s size, 13 of Moss’ 19 home runs have come while playing at home.
His career batting average is .237, his career slugging percentage is .452 and his career OPS is .767, but over the years, when playing in Kauffman Stadium those numbers are .270, .532 and .859.
Moss wonders if there’s any way the commissioner would let the Royals play all their games at The K.
Strikeouts and swing path
But wherever Moss has played he tends to strikeout: in 2017 Moss has played 50 games on the road and struck out 55 times, in 51 home games Moss has also struck out 55 times.
When asked if he strikes out too much, Moss smiles and says: “You think?”
In the past Moss has been praised for his launch angle — he tends to hit the ball in the air — but Moss says the same swing path that lifts the ball means his bat doesn’t stay in the strike zone as long as hitters with a flatter swing path.
According to Moss and most guys who hit baseballs for a living, hitters with a flatter swing path have more margin for error, tend to make square contact more often and hit more line drives.
This year Moss thinks his front shoulder is flying out too soon and that’s pulling his bat out of the zone too soon as well. He describes his swing path as being shaped like a checkmark and that means he’s got a comparatively small zone for making good contact. It’s easy to foul a pitch off or miss it entirely.
Trajectory and direction
Big-league pitches tend to move rather quickly and the good ones are moving in more than one direction at the same time. That makes precise contact difficult: hitting the bottom half of a baseball will give it a fly-ball trajectory, but make contact too low on the baseball and it’s a pop up.
This season, when Moss hits a fly ball and it isn’t a home run, his batting average is .103.
If Moss hits a ground ball his average is even worse; .078. Moss says that’s because when he hits a ground ball he tends to pull it, and teams are putting everyone but the bat boy and a beer vendor between first and second base.
When teams overload the infield defense to the right side, some fans might wonder why Moss doesn’t hit a ground ball to the left side. Like most things, that is easier said than done.
Moss says when hits a ball to the opposite field it tends to be in the air, so opposite field ground balls are hard to come by and trying to alter his swing to do something he doesn’t do well might screw up something he does do well: hit balls hard to the pull side of the field.
When Moss gets a ball in play to the pull side of the field he hits .401.
When Moss hits a line drive he hits .673 and he wouldn’t mind a few more line-drive singles and doubles mixed in with those fly-ball home runs.
Hitting lefties and eliminating pitches
This season Moss, a left-handed hitter, has hit left-handed pitchers better than right-handed pitchers; .254 against lefties, .188 against righties and that’s a trend that’s been fairly constant throughout his career.
When asked why, Moss gives two reasons:
With lefties he’s just trying to get a hit, with righties he’s trying to do damage. Over his career, Moss has 135 home runs against right-handed pitchers, 22 against left-handed pitchers. And if a hitter is trying to do damage, early in the count he might let a pitch he could hit for a single go by; the hitter isn’t fishing for minnows, he’s trying to land a whale.
The second reason Moss gives for hitting well against lefties is left-handed pitchers don’t like to throw change-ups to left-handed hitters. Change-ups tend to move down-and-in to a pitcher’s arm side and a lot of left-handed hitters hit down-and-in really well.
So if a pitcher doesn’t want to throw him a change-up, Moss can eliminate that pitch from his thinking: a three-pitch pitcher becomes a two-pitch pitcher and the chances of guessing correctly go up.