Deleting the Adjectives: Tyler Moore
Sometimes when looking at the complex mathematical formulas that go into the new advanced stats it is hard to remember that at their root is the game of baseball. One time I was debating the merits of Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Espinosa and was accused of only liking Espinosa more because he had a higher WAR. When I laid out that in fact I liked him because of his superior power, base running and defense I got the odd response that those were all components of WAR. What the person I was discussing this with seemed to forget was that these are also components of baseball.
Numbers are not there to replace baseball, merely to either confirm what you have observed or to make you re-think it. What is really cool is when you observe something and the numbers come back in complete agreement. I just experienced this the other day in regards to Tyler Moore.
While watching the first game of the Orioles series with my dad, we both remarked on how Tyler Moore tried to hit a home run on every pitch. At least one pitch was out of the zone and he still tried to hit it with a big, long swing. Knowing that Moore was struggling offensively, we postulated that this approach could be the reason for his struggles.
Looking at the Fangraphs batted ball data for when Moore puts the ball in play appears to confirm that suspicion. While his ground ball to fly ball ratio is essentially the same at 1.04 to 1.05 in his successful 2012 campaign that's where the similarities end.
Moore's line drive rate has nosedived, from 21.8% in 2012 to 10.9% this season. This suggests that he is no longer squaring up the ball and getting good contact. Line drives are where a batter gets his base hits and such a low rate for Moore is concerning.
Even more concerning is the precipitous drop in his home run to fly ball ratio. Last season it was a healthy 23.8%, but this season it is a mere 8.3% and was even lower before his home run against the Orioles on Tuesday. Moore makes his living on his prodigious power, so if he isn't hitting home runs he loses a lot of his value.
Moore is too strong to be hitting the ball weakly on his own, so it is evident that his issue stems from his pitch selection and approach at the plate. Moore is swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone, 38.3% this season versus 32.3% in 2012 and making less overall contact, from 80.2% in 2012 to 74.4% this season, according to PITCHf/x data.
With a strikeout rate of 35.1% Moore is struggling to put the ball in play as it is and when he does it is often a weakly hit ground out or fly out. Increased time in the Major Leagues has exposed Moore's weaknesses in his approach and pitchers have taken advantage. With his wOBA sitting at .206 Moore has to make an adjustment, or he will find himself back at Syracuse.