Matt Moore – Remember Him?

How quickly you can be forgotten. With the Rookie of the Year announcements on November 12, the world was, once again, focused on Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. While Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, and Wade Miley got lost in the shuffle, some names seemed to be totally thrown out during the 2012 season.

While Trout had, quite possibly, the greatest season EVER by a rookie, it is understandable that others, specifically in the American League, were overlooked. Darvish and Cespedes were the highlights of voter ballots, but Wei-Lin Chen and Jarrod Parker were the only other players who were put on the ballot by voters.

While Matt Moore didn’t have a tremendous season, could the domination that other rookies had in the 2012 season create a lack of buzz for Moore going into the 2013 season?

Matt Moore turns 24 in June of 2013 and he has a nice resume to this point in his career. Prior to the 2012 season, Moore was rated as the No.2 prospect in baseball by Baseball America – Harper was No.1 and Trout was No.3. In the minor leagues, Moore was a combined 28-21 with a 2.64 ERA and a 700:212 K:BB in 497.1 innings, including a 12-3 record with a 1.92 ERA and 210:46 K:BB in 155 innings in 2011.

Moore arrived in Tampa late in 2011, appearing in three games, when he posted a 15:3 K:BB in just 9.1 innings, including his 11-strikeout start on September 22 against the Yankees (his only start). When the Rays were in the playoffs, Moore started Game One of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, tossing seven shutout innings. Moore tossed three relief innings in Game Four, allowing one run, as the Rays lost the series in four games to the Rangers, who went on to the World Series and lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 2012 season was not fantastic for Moore, but there is little reason to doubt his ability to become an ace for the Tampa Bay Rays. He was 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA, posting a 175:81 K:BB in 177.1 innings. Moore battled location issues, which increased his WHIP to 1.35 in 2012, something that never seemed to be an issue at any point in his minor league and brief major league career before the 2012 season.


Moore had a period when he seemed to put everything together, though, which was a pretty significant time of the season. From June 1 through the end of August, Moore was 9-3 with a 2.89 ERA over 99.2 innings (16 starts) while posting a 94:41 K:BB and 1.25 WHIP. He struggled mightily in September (1-3, 5.48 ERA, 1.45 WHIP), but he may have been tired, as he had reached 156 innings and 26 starts prior to the start of the month.

(While Moore ended up tossing a combined 174.1 innings between the minors and majors in 2011, the dramatic nature of tossing more innings per start and pitching every fifth day for a team fighting for a playoff spot for most of the season may have played a role in his fatigue.)

Regardless, Moore had an up and down season in 2012 with the Rays, but he shouldn’t be an afterthought when talking about the top young players in baseball, especially in the American League. Darvish, Chen, and Cespedes played professionally in their respective countries prior to drawing Rookie of the Year votes in 2012. Though their early success shouldn’t be discounted, the success of actual rookies, like Parker and Moore, shouldn’t be tossed aside, either.

For example…

Once upon a time, there was a pitcher named David Price, who came up in September of 2008 and made a similar impact on the team from Tampa Bay, making five appearances during the season and another five in the playoffs. In his first full season, 2009, Price was 10-7 with a 4.42 ERA and a 102:54 K:BB in 125.1 innings. Price had an ugly WHIP of 1.35 in his 23 starts in 2009.

David Price, a 2012 AL Cy Young finalist, has gone 51-24 with a 2.93 ERA over 644 innings, with a 1.14 WHIP and a 611:201 K:BB in 96 starts since his rookie season.

While his rookie season was underwhelming, David Price was not on the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year ballot, just like Moore. Could Matt Moore have a parallel career  to Price? It looks pretty similar at this point, and the sky is the limit with the young left-hander with dynamic stuff.

Winning the Rookie of the Year is not the be-all-end-all to a baseball career. Just look at the careers of Ben Grieve, Marty Cordova, Pat Listach, and other one year wonders. Matt Moore is on his way to stardom, Rookie of the Year or not.


Are the Orioles Finished?

The Baltimore Orioles are one of the surprising teams in MLB in 2012, having gone 32-26 through Friday.  The O’s sit one game back of Tampa Bay in the AL East and they are tied with the Yankees for the Wild Card lead.

Baltimore started hot out of the gate, going 14-9 in April, thanks in large part to the 3.03 team ERA that their pitching staff posted in the first month of the season.  Things have changed since April, though, as the team ERA rose to 4.16 in May (though they did finish 15-13 in May), and it is up to 5.02 in June, while the team is now 3-4 this month after losing three straight games.

You can’t blame the pitching  entirely for the recent slide, though.  The offense is 19th in MLB in team average (.247) while leading the majors in strikeouts with 487, thanks in no small part to Robert Andino (59), Chris Davis (55), Mark Reynolds (46), and Adam Jones (42).  While the O’s struggle to make contact, they can mash, as shown by their 80 home runs (3rd in MLB) and a .733 team OPS (9th in MLB).

The rotation is currently in flux due to Jake Arrieta’s recent struggles.  The young right-hander is 2-8 with a 6.32 ERA.  While Arrieta was solid in April (1-2, 4.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .216 BAA), but he was miserable in May (1-4, 6.17 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .306 BAA), and attrocious in June (0-2, 13.50 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, .342 BAA).  He will go to Triple-A with Tommy Hunter coming back, but the club has had great contributions from Jason Hammel, Wei-Lin Chen, and Brian Matusz to this point.

Adam Jones was just extended, Dylan Bundy has pitched like the the greatest pitching prospect in years, and the Orioles have a group of solid prospects in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Nick Delmonico, and others.  The future is bright in Baltimore, but this probably isn’t the year.

Baltimore has dealt with a lot of injury issues.  Nolan Reimold was fantastic before back issues set in, Brian Roberts is and has been out with a concussion, and Nick Markakis is now out through the month of June due to a broken right hamate bone.  Add in Matt Lindstrom’s finger injury in the bullpen, Tsuyoshi Wada being lost for the year before he ever really got started, and the lack of contact skills in the lineup, and the luck seems to be continually going against them.

Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates temporary resurgence in 2011, the Orioles temporary return to glory has been very cute.  However, it just isn’t meant to last this year, but the future remains bright…if that sounds familiar to Orioles fans…