Once upon a time, Tyler Moore was the kind of player that many fans of the Nationals organization could get behind. A former sixteenth round pick out of Mississippi State, Moore wasn't expected to have much of a big league future when the Nats drafted him. In his first few professional seasons, Moore ignored the critics and mashed his way through the Nats minor league system. He transformed himself from a player who was expected to be organizational depth to a guy who earned his way onto the big league roster in 2012.
Moore didn't have an immediate impact when he turned pro. In his first professional season, Moore hit just .200/.239/.306 in 280 plate appearances at Low A ball. He struck out in 23.6% of his plate appearances and didn't show much discipline, walking just 4.6% of the time. Nonetheless, the Nats promoted him to Hagerstown for his second pro season, and Moore began his ascent through the system.
His power production didn't really break out in 2009, but he did start to look more comfortable as a professional hitter. Moore boosted his triple slash line to .297/.363/.447, in part due to a .375 BABIP for the Suns. His strikeout rate stayed steady at A ball, but his walk rate climbed to 8.4%. His wRC+ jumped from 54 in A- ball in 2008 to 131 in Hagerstown in 2009.
This earned Moore another promotion to High A Potomac for his third professional season. His batting average came back to earth a bit, but this is where his power started to spike. Moore hit 31 homers for the P-Nats while triple slashing .271/.324/.555. The 2010 batting average seemed more sustainable, as his BABIP dropped to a more realistic .298, but the jump in the ISO was what started to make Nats fans excited. Moore's ISO improved from .150 in 2009 to .283 in 2010 as the then 23-year-old started to look like he might be a legitimate prospect.
Moore backed that up in 2011 when he was promoted to Harrisburg. In fact, he nearly repeated those 2010 numbers in his first season in the high minors. Moore turned in a .270/.314/.532 line that year for the Senators and mashed 31 homers, identical to his 2010 total. The strikeout totals were still high, and the walk rate was still a bit low, so prospect evaluators were never that high on Moore. Still, his power production did suggest he could be a rising star in the Nats organization that many had missed on.
The Nats started Moore in Syracuse for his first taste of AAA in 2012 and watched him continue to rake for the first month. Moore hit .307/.374/.653 with 9 HR in just 115 PA for the Chiefs before getting the call to the majors. Once in D.C., Moore did a fantastic job of proving the doubters wrong. As a rookie, Moore hit .263/.327/.513 with 10 HR in just 171 PA for the Nats. He proved to be an integral piece off the bench as the Nats won their first NL East crown, and even delivered a game-winning two run single as a pinch hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Yes... From 2009-2012, Tyler Moore was that overachiever that fans love so much. He was a non-prospect who defied what just about every scout said about him and hit his way to the majors. He even continued to defy those scouts once he reached the majors. Alas, it looks like that 2012 rookie campaign may have been the pinnacle of his career.
Moore couldn't sustain the success he had as a rookie in 2013. He began the year as the Nats primary right-handed bat off the bench, but hit just .151/.195/.283 in 113 PA before being sent down to Syracuse. Upon his return to the minors, Moore resumed hitting, batting .318/.395/.584 with 10 HR in 200 PA in AAA. He even looked pretty solid after returning to the majors that season, closing out the year with a strong .344/.375/.459 line in 65 PA in the second half. His season-long numbers in the majors were still pretty miserable, though, as he finished 2013 with a .222/.260/.347 line and a 64 wRC+.
2014 played out somewhat similarly to how 2013 did for Moore. He began the year with the big club, batting just .214/.295/.371 before being optioned back to Syracuse. Once back in the minors, Moore remembered how to hit, though he wasn't nearly as good as he'd been in his two previous stints with the Chiefs. Moore hit .265/.367/.434 in Syracuse last season. His patience at the AAA level improved for the second straight season, as his walk rate (well... in the minors, at least) jumped to 13.3%. The ISO regressed a whopping 97 points, though. Once again, Moore received a call back to the majors late in the year and looked a bit better, slashing .286/.318/.429 in a minuscule 21 plate appearance sample. His season-long numbers were still disappointing, as he finished 2014 with a .231/.300/.385 line and a 94 wRC+ at the big league level.
In 2015, Moore once again got off to a terrible start with the big league club. He batted .224/.269/.392 in the first half. Unfortunately, he's out of minor league options. The Nats were unable to send Moore back to Syracuse to try and get him regular playing time and see if they could get his bat going. He's actually been quite a bit worse since the All Star Break, batting just .087/.160/.130 in 25 PA. While that second half split shows us just a 25 PA glimpse, it's not exactly like he's forcing Matt Williams hand to play him more often with his performance on the field.
Since the beginning of the 2013 campaign, Tyler Moore has the lowest fWAR (-1.6) by one full win (Scott Hairston, Steve Lombardozzi, Chad Tracy at -0.6) among the 38 position players that the Nationals have used. Over that span, Moore has a .217/.266/.357 line with a 70 wRC+. He's accounted for -16.2 Offensive Runs Above Average and, just as importantly, has been responsible for -11.9 Defensive Runs Above Average. As a first baseman, Moore has been average(ish), with -1 Defensive Runs Saved in 502 career innings. As a corner outfielder, he's been abysmal, with -12 DRS in 608 innings.
In his fourth big league season, Moore has been overtaken as the backup first baseman by 30-year-old rookie Clint Robinson. Robinson has also replaced Moore as the emergency outfielder, which this season apparently means the fourth outfielder. Moore is now relegated to the occasional pinch hitting chance off of a bench that is currently running a man short. What makes this situation even worse is that he's hit so poorly that he should probably be the last man off the bench, ceding more important chances to Robinson, Danny Espinosa, or even Jose Lobaton.
The options to replace him in the high minors aren't spectacular. Matt den Dekker might be the only viable option on the forty man to replace him on the roster. He hasn't hit much in Syracuse or in the majors this season, but (unlike Moore) den Dekker would provide good outfield defense off the bench. Moore's offensive contributions set the bar so low that den Dekker would be hard pressed not to upgrade Moore's spot on the roster. In fact, for all of the disappointment in how den Dekker has performed this season, he has a higher wRC+ in the majors this season (67) than Moore (60).
I get not wanting to give up on Moore, which is something that the Nats will risk if they try and send him down to Syracuse. Despite the fact that he was never expected to amount to much, Moore has shown some value in the past in the high minors. He's even shown that he has some value in the majors, though he really hasn't proven that in three years at this point. If he provided some defensive value to offset his lack of offense, it might be understandable to keep him on the roster. He doesn't, though. It's time to cut the cord.