Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
Davey Johnson praised the work outfielder Tyler Moore did this year, coming off the bench as a rookie for the NL East Champion Washington Nationals.
A then-23-year-old Tyler Moore was coming off a .297/.363/.447, 30 double, nine home run 2009 season when the '08 16th Round pick out of Mississippi State University moved up a level from Class-A Hagerstown to High-A Potomac to start the 2010 campaign. For the first half of the year with the P-Nats, the Brandon, Mississippi-born slugger struggled, "... hitting .197 with just nine home runs," as Tim Swartz wrote at MiLB.com last season, before turning things around and hitting .346 with 22 HRs in the second half to finish the year with a .269/.321/.552 line, 43 doubles and 31 HRs in 129 games and 553 PAs.
"When you break down the 2010 season that he had at Potomac," Nationals' Director of Player Development Doug Harris told MLB.com this past summer, "... he really came into his own in the second half. It’s a credit to him." Moore led the Carolina League in doubles, HRs and RBIs in 2010 and earned Washington's Minor League Player of the Year Award.
"It was kind of up and down to say the least," Moore told reporters when he visited the nation's capital late that year to be recognized for having won the Minor League POY award. "First half of the year just went from struggling real bad and just kind of got to a point where enough is enough and just kind of had to go out and stop thinking about everything and just go hit." The right-handed hitting and throwing first baseman said he was in the zone at the plate in the second half. "It just felt like I was hitting offspeed in fastball counts," Moore explained, "and just felt like I was just going up there and seeing the ball and hitting it."
The P-Nats' second-half run for the Carolina League championship helped the slugger stay focused. "That made us lock in a little more," Moore said, "Everybody on the team. Everybody just got contagious hitting and it just kinda went off for us and we were able to win a championship." Moore moved up to Double-A in 2011 and continued to hit with the Harrisburg Senators, collecting 35 doubles and 31 HRs in 137 games and 561 PAs and finishing the year with a .270/.314/.532 line.
After hitting 31 HRs in back-to-back seasons, Moore started the 2012 campaign at Triple-A Syracuse, and was called up to make his MLB debut in late April. In part-time work at the plate with Washington, Moore was 3 for 19 with seven Ks in his first month in the Majors when he was sent back to Triple-A. The big right-handed bat wasn't down for long. After being optioned on May 29th, Moore was called back up in the first week of June as the Nationals started a road trip through Boston and Toronto during which he connected for his first extra base hit in the majors in Fenway Park and then five days later his first major league home run. The 25-year-old outfielder hit his first and second home run in quick succession in the same game in the Rogers Centre in Toronto, and went 17 for 40 (.425/.521/.800) with three doubles, four home runs, eight walks and nine Ks in 13 games in the month of June.
From the time he was called up the second time through the end of the season, Moore posted a .277/.349/.562 line with nine doubles and 10 HRs in 63 games and 152 PAs. Davey Johnson praised the work his outfielder had done, especially considering he was playing part-time as a rookie and hadn't ever played the outfield before this season. "I think when he was here the first time and then he went back out and then he came back in," Johnson said, "I think he learned from that experience and he's doing more things and staying prepared and he's much more aggressive when he goes up to pinch hit."
"You know an everyday ballplayer likes to go up there and take a pitch and get comfortable with the timing and everything," the Nationals' 69-year-old manager explained, "but I talked to him about it and I said, you go in there and you start swinging from the get-go and you'll gauge your timing better. And he's handled it like a veteran. Got some hits for us." Perhaps the biggest hit of the year by Moore, however, wasn't a home run, but an opposite field single in Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis in his first career postseason AB.
With the Nationals down 2-1 with two on and two out in the top of the eighth, Davey Johnson brought Chad Tracy out to face Cards' right-hander Mitchell Boggs, forcing Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny to go to his pen for Marc Rzepczynski. Johnson then countered with Moore who hit a 93 mph 2-2 fastball to right to drive two runs in and give Washington the lead. "I actually did not think that Mike was going to get Boggs," Johnson told reporters after the game, "But I told [Chad] Tracy when he went up there, if he takes him out and brings in Rzepczynski or whatever his name is, I'm hitting Moore. And he did, so I hit Moore."
"I'd rather have the veteran player in that situation than a rookie," the Nats' manager explained, "But rookies have been having success all year. They have been doing a heck of a job, and Moore has got some big hits for us, as he did tonight." Johnson continued to praise Moore later in the post game interview following Game 1. "He's got a great stroke," Johnson said, "He's short through the ball. He's got a great future. He's done ‑‑ all of my young guys have done a great job, out of position and not in a regular role."
Moore finished his rookie campaign with a .263/.327/.513 line, nine doubles and ten home runs in 75 games and 171 plate appearances. What does the future hold for Moore? It might depend on the decision the Nationals make with Adam LaRoche. Moore spent the majority of his time in Washington's organization as a first baseman and with his offensive production in the last three seasons may have earned a look at either first or in left field again in 2013.
The Nationals drafted Moore three times, in '05, '06 and '08 before signing him the third time around. Whether he's on the bench, at first or in left next season the hard-hitting outfielder figures to play a role on the Nats' 2013 roster after another strong season in the organization.