Raise your hand if you love Tyler Moore. I’d expect to see most hands raised around Natstown, as Moore’s clutch base hit in game 1 of the NLDS turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win. Now raise your hand if you thought Tyler Moore was going to be a significant ML contributor this year. A lot of hands should be going down – I know mine is. It’s a lot easier to imagine a top prospect like Bryce Harper or Anthony Rendon improving on his way to the big leagues than a guy like Tyler Moore, but Moore showed impressive and real improvement this season.
Last August when I ran my personal top 30 Nationals top prospect list, Tyler Moore sat at #26, just behind 2007 bonus baby busts Jack McGeary and Josh Smoker. Obviously, his calling card is his power – he and Paul Goldschmidt were the only two minor leaguers to hit 30 or more homers in both 2010 and 2011 (h/t to Luke of Nationals Prospects for that stat). The problem was that his other skills were lacking – Moore wasn’t thought to be a great fielder and his plate discipline was pretty awful (roughly 1/5 BB to K ratio in 2008, 1/3 in 2009, 1/3 in 2010 and a little worse than ¼ in 2011). The ghost of Wily Mo Pena told me not to buy into free swinging guys that couldn’t do much elsewhere, so I wrote him off as a one-tool player and basically forgot about him. I thought that major league pitching would eat him alive.
That didn’t happen. Moore hit pretty well against all different types of pitching (having a few more struggles with sliders and changeups than most, but still nothing awful). His final triple slash line in 171 plate appearances was .263/.327/.513, with an OPS+ of 124 (100 being ML average, so his bat was 24% above ML average). Moore hit 10 HR (averaging one every 17.1 PA, which would be about 35 HR in a 600 PA season) and even stole three bases. He wasn’t seen as much in the field with a UZR of -3.2 in the OF this year, but this was his first professional season of playing any outfield. Even though he rated poorly in the field, Moore was worth 0.6 wins above replacement, providing roughly $2.9 million worth of open market value.
Now that we’ve seen what Moore did, the real question is – can he repeat it? 171 plate appearances is a relatively small sample size, but I do believe this is more or less what you’re going to see out of Tyler from years to come: OK batting average and OBP, great power and below average fielding. If Moore can keep his BB% in the 8-10% range (8.2% in ML this year, 9.1% in 286 total PA between AAA and ML), I believe he will be able to continue to keep his offensive value high enough to balance out his mediocre fielding (and he still has time to improve with the glove, of course). All in all, this was a fairly unexpected and encouraging year for Tyler Moore, and I am gladly admitting that I was wrong about him going into the year.