Nationals Baseball: Tyler Moore and Who's out

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tyler Moore and Who's out

Nothing like a 12 inning loss on getaway day to buck up everyone's spirits.  Oh well, the thing we're all curious about is whether the offensive explosion (33 runs in the last 3 games - you'd have to go back a dozen games before that for the Nats to total up that much) is real or not.  Atlanta can be a launching pad but it's no Coors and the pitching should be better.

On Tyler Moore - yesterday I got called out for a couple things.  One is that my argument "he strikes out too much" was terrible. You guys were completely right.  I just threw half an argument out there and thought "you see where I'm going with this" and called it a day. I'm fine being lazy, but I don't want to be lazy and fail to make my point. Strikeouts in the majors by themselves don't really matter - As DC Natty pointed out I've even said this before. So I don't mean to suggest they do for Tyler. What I wanted to say about Moore and his strikeouts falls into two arguments

1) Tyler Moore struck out way too much in the minors.  So what, you say?  Why would that matter in the minors but not the majors? Well, here's the thing.  Remember that "really" in "strikeouts don't really matter"? that's because strikeouts do matter a little bit because they are tied to making outs. While balls put in play are the subject of some luck on if they become a hit or not, strikeouts aren't. So you don't want to strike out too much in the major leagues or that will kill your average to a point where your slugging and/or patience may not be able to make you a decent hitter overall. By too much though we're talking like 30% on up.  That's a lot of strikeouts.

Thing is Tyler might just get there. You tend to strikeout more in the majors than in the minors, certainly those first few years. This makes sense, the pitching is a lot better in the majors. Tyler struck out 23% of the time in the minors at every level.  He's striking out 24% of the time now, but if that number bumps up to around 30% he'll find himself in that danger zone.  It should be higher in the majors - the only question is if it'll be say 27% which you can work with or 33% which you can't.

2) Tyler Moore doesn't walk enough and in conjunction with the high K% - that's a problem.  If you don't walk in the majors and you make too many outs you aren't getting on base enough to be helpful to the offense. Striking out too much is one easy way of making too many outs. OK OK If you are some sort of power prodigy perhaps you can make up for these deficincies, but outside of that no. Not even if you hit 30+ homers. Tyler's walk rates in the minors were pretty terrible.  On average around 6.5%.  That's not enough, especially if we expect his K-rate to rise a little bit.

Which bring me to the second call-out, that I tend to think young players can't improve. Right now Tyler is maintaining his K% and he's brought his walk rate up to like 10% in the minors, 11% in the majors.  That's not great but is certainly good enough, with his power, to play at this level. Why wouldn't I think "he's just gotten better".  He's young enough to do so, right? Well...yes "but".

The majority of his career as explained above suggests that he won't maintain these levels. He has 1871 minor league plate appearances telling me one thing.  He has 176 PAs this year saying something else. To me, even though the most recent information should matter the most, it's not enough to dispel the large amount of information in the past. He has to keep this up for a long period of time, probably over a season, for me to believe he has honestly improved. It's not about believing he CAN change, certainly he can, it's about believing he HAS changed.

It's the same reason I haven't bought into Desmond. He's shown a ton of power in May and June but career wise that seems flukey (though I'm more likely to buy Desmond than Moore because there has been this occasional flash).  It doesn't work just one way though. Moore hit for a ton of power in the minors. If he goes the next month and doesn't hit a homer, I'm not going to think he can't hit the deep ball in the majors. It'll take more than a season of slapping singles for me to accept that's his role in the majors.  Danny Espinosa showed very nice power numbers in the minors and was as good at getting the XBH last year. So I'm not going to worry about him just because his first few months show a drop in power. Historically he's hit well, so I expect he'll pick it up.  He has to prove to me he can't do it.

Still in the end the Nats should be playing Moore everyday because it's not about what should happen, it's about what does. Should is about planning, the Nats shouldn't expect to pencil in Moore at first or the OF next sesaon, they shouldn't expect him to carry the offense through the stretch run. They should have plans in place for these things. But at the same time because he is performing right now, he should play right now and if he keeps it up then you can throw all those plans away.

Commenter Donald suggested we could write off some of the pre-season playoff possibility teams like the Marlins and Phillies, because of their slow first halves.Are we there just yet? I would say aaaaaalmost. You can get a good idea of how good a team can play in the 2nd half by looking at how good teams have played in the first half. The Rangers, with a .623 winning percentage, are the best in the majors. Giving a little leeway, looking at some past 2nd half performances, let's say .640 is the best a team can do from here on out. (Sure it's far more likely the Nats would win at that rate than the Phillies but we're trying to be absolutely sure about this.) We then look at how many wins these teams need to get to 85, which is kind of the floor of "we can make the playoffs with this many wins".  Which teams need to win at a higher clip than .640 to reach 85 wins?

The Cubs, the Padres and the Rockies.  Those are the only teams I would definitely rule out right now.  The Phillies and Marlins stand at .583 and .574 rates respectively. That's like winning 93-95 games over the course of a year.  It's asking a lot but it's not impossible. Of course that just means I wouldn't technically rule them out. In reality their great comebacks would have to be matched with some great failures but those do happen.

At what point would the Marlins/Phillies hit that "can't come back" threshold if they keep playing like this? Somewhere around game 105 or early in August. Of course they can hit it faster if they play even worse.


Anonymous said...

Excellent points

Donald said...

In regard to the Phillies and Marlins, it might be too early to write off an 85 win season. But to get to 89, they'd need to play at .631 and .621 respectively, which I think is too high a bar.

As for waiting until the 105 game mark, the question they both face is going to be earlier -- at the trade deadline. Particularly in the case of the Phillies, do they sell Hamels? If either team decides to be a seller, they're done. We may know fairly soon.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Harp. I retract my comments about you thinking young players can't improve. I now see what you're saying :-)

blovy8 said...

Agreed. Moore could have a Chris Davis sort of career where the power and a few streaks here and there could carry him even when he's not much of a defender, doesn't walk much, and strikes out a lot. There's some adjustments the pitchers are going to make.

Desmond probably won't continue to hit homers at this rate, but if he hits 20, not the 25-30 pace he's on, with the better defense, he's a good shortstop, and maybe we can get over the leadoff hitter he isn't. I think I may as wary of the better defense as I am of the power surge, actually.

Harper said...

Anon- thanks.

Donald - I know. They both are pretty much at the point of no return in terms of making the playoffs no matter what. They need to turn it on now and keep it on for remainder of the season or they are going to have to have some luck (and still play really well).

You're right though - technical deadline might be early August, but practically it's right after the All-Star break when they have to decide.

Anon - To be fair I am probably a little more cynical than your average Nats blogger would be. Tyler Moore 4 Prez!

Blovy8 - Chris Davis is a neat comparison though outside of that first year he struck out less than Tyler in the Minors (and he does transalte to a 30% K rate in the majors which keeps him on that "can't keep a starting job" level)

Desmond - I think 20 is fine. He's not going to be great (all-star nod or not) so either try to get a vast improvement or stick him in the 7th spot and ride out his peak 26-28 seasons and try to flip him at peak value before he gets to FA.

Anonymous said...

Now I have to point out something else you don't know about baseball...

Minor League stats mean nothing. The only way we'll see how good Tyler Moore is, is if he plays. Until then, this discussion is stupid and you're wasting your time.

Harper said...

Anon - Hmmm. I'm pretty sure I don't belong in the majors. or this guy

What you say isn't wrong, ultimately when you arrive in the majors all that matters is if you can play NOW or not - not how you did previously. While I can say it's not likely he'll make it - that's just talk, he either does or doesn't.

But no major league organization could work under the premise minor league stats mean nothing. That's how you managing resources (who should I bring up, play more, move between leagues, keep paying) and expectations (what do I think they'll play like when they get here).

michael k said...

I still think this guy has got to be a friend of yours, Harper.

Ben said...

I wouldn't count out the Marlins yet (Phils I would, mostly because they could get a lot for Hamels). They have been a very polarized team so far (very hot or very cold) and what would they sell anyway at the deadline to make their team worse? Just eye-balling their runs scored numbers (15 less than the Nats! haha) it seems like they are in for a boost and if Hanley could carry them for a while, that means Stanton could, uh, (what's even better than carry? throw?) OK, throw them for a month.

Perhaps I am irrationally scared of the Marlins simply by how poorly the Nats usually play them (and why I am stupidly not afraid of the Braves), but I think they have a Coloradoesque September in them, and maybe even a de-humidor to go with it.

Anonymous said...

"no major league organization could work under the premise minor league stats mean nothing"


And this game made me remember when you stated last season that Johnny Venters was better than Tyler Clippard.

Hahahahaha yeah. You definitely know what you're talking about.

Harper said...

mk - who knows? all I know is I'll take every comment as a way to improve. I'm not going to get angry about anything done in the comments of a hobby.

Ben - see I'd be more afraid of the Phillies, Utley back, Howard coming back. I am a big Halladay fan. Then again the Phils are losing tonight so what do I know

Anon - when did I say that? Not that I couldn't have, Clippard really only took the reins this year as he kept being awesome and Venters has stumbled - but I even searched for it and couldn't find it

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