On Tyler Moore's History and the Nationals' Tough Decision

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

When the Washington Nationals announced on Tuesday that they optioned outfielder Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse, new Nats' skipper Matt Williams explained that Moore's history said he needed regular at bats to stay sharp at the plate. A quick look back follows...

Tyler Moore was 25 years old when the '08 16th Round pick made his MLB debut for the Washington Nationals, who drafted him out of Mississippi State University, on April 29, 2012 in Dodger Stadium in LA. Moore's first stint in the majors ended on May 26th, however, after just 12 games in which he was 3 for 19 (.158/.158/.158) with three singles and seven Ks in 19 plate appearances before he was optioned back to the Nats' Triple-A affiliate.

Moore returned to the Nationals for a second run on June 8th a different hitter.

"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..." - Davey Johnson's advice to struggling Tyler Moore, 2012

Now-former Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters that summer that the short trip back to the minors and some regular at bats helped Moore get comfortable at the plate again.

"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," Johnson said. "You know an everyday ballplayer likes to go up there and take a pitch and get comfortable with the timing and everything, 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."

Moore ended up posting a .277/.349/.562 line with 9 doubles and 10 HRs in 63 games (30 GS) and 152 PAs for the 2012 NL East Champs over the rest of the season.

Moore hit in a tough role for a young player used to regular at bats as a rookie and made the Opening Day roster in the same role in 2013.

He struggled though, posting a .149/.198/.266 line five doubles and two home runs in 37 games and 101 plate appearances before he was once again optioned out to Syracuse.

"He'll be back soon," Johnson said. "He's an outstanding player. But I just want to get him freshened up. Kind of like what we did last year, I wanted to do it earlier and then we had some injuries [that] prohibited it."

Johnson said Moore took the blame for his own struggles.

"I told him that it's a tough situation for a young player with your talents... And he said, 'You've given me every opportunity, and it's all on me.'" - Davey Johnson on conversation with Tyler Moore, 2013

"I told him that it's a tough situation for a young player with your talents," Johnson said. "And he said, 'I know I can do it.' And he said, 'You've given me every opportunity, and it's all on me.'"

Moore was up briefly twice in late June and for a day in July, but didn't return to the majors for good until mid-August.

Moore posted a .318/.395/.584 line with 14 doubles and 10 HRs in 45 games and 200 PAs at Triple-A then returned to the majors and finished the year with a strong stretch of 21 games over which he was 21 for 61 (.344/.375/.459) with four doubles and a home run over 65 PAs.

It was that history of struggling in infrequent plate appearances and then recovering his timing with regular at bats that new Nationals' manager Matt Williams pointed to in explaining to reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, the decision to option Moore to Triple-A to start the season after the Nats announced the move on Tuesday:

"'Tyler’s history is that when he has consistent at-bats, he does well. It’s tough when you’re not getting those at-bats. He’s a player that needs them to stay sharp. I can understand that. So that’s the reason behind Tyler. He needs at-bats, and he needs to be ready if we need him.'"

In 74 games and 314 career plate appearances, Moore, now 27, has a .314/.387/.609 line with 20 doubles, two triples and 19 HRs at Triple-A.

As a major leaguer, he has a combined .241/.293/.427 line in with 18 doubles and 14 HRs in 138 games and 349 PAs.

Moore entered the 2013 campaign aware that he was going to have to earn a spot on the Nationals' roster, as he explained to reporters at NatsFest in January.

"I'm not given anything," he said. "I definitely have to earn what I'm going to get. I'm just looking forward to it, looking forward to competing. I know we've brought in some great guys, and we'll see what happens."

Moore started slow this spring, with just three hits in his first 19 Grapefruit League plate appearances, but was 10 for 30 over the next two weeks of Spring Training before he was optioned to Triple-A.

Will he end up benefitting from skipping the struggling-sent-down-and-recalled-once-he's-hitting part of the pattern he set in his first two major league seasons?

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