Being a bench player in MLB — a successful one, anyway— isn’t exactly the easiest thing, even if it means less work.
The downtime and general lack of opportunities can sometimes throw players off of their routines, forcing them to press when called upon and turning good habits into vices that pile up the snowball into prolonged struggles. As the Washington Nationals have found out this season, Tyler Moore is just one of those players.
This week, GM Mike Rizzo finally decided that he’d seen enough, acquiring veteran right-handed bench player Scott Hairston from the pitching-starved Chicago Cubs in exchange for a farmhand.
Hairston’s arrival to the nation’s capital more than likely means the end of the Moore experiment for the Nationals … at least for this year, anyway. And for good reason, too; the 26-year-old simply has not been able to get into any sort of a groove in the 2013 season, posting an unplayable .151/.195/.283 triple-slash through 113 scattered PAs and hitting just three home runs.
That’s a far cry from the Michael Morse-esque power the outfielder put on display in opportunities created by injuries in 2012, as Moore had hit 10 home runs over a 171-PA span, good enough for a .513 slugging percentage and a strong .840 OPS.
Without a regular role this season, however, he’s simply lost at the plate, hacking away at a very poor 34.5 percent strikeout rate and at risk of having his development stopped dead in its tracks. It comes at a bad time too, as Moore is at the crucial juncture of just entering his prime and really needing to carve a niche with the team to take the next step in his professional career.
Now, with a .172/.232/.434 triple-slash through 112 PA in 2013, you might say it’s not as though Hairston is likely to bolster a whole lot of confidence in the Nats’ bench either.
That said, the veteran is a more suitable player for the role if only because he doesn’t have the same kind of the long-term upside that Moore does, and with a career .818 OPS vs lefties (.739 in 2013), he has demonstrated an adept bat off the bench for situational use vs. southpaws.
As for Moore, a decision hasn’t officially been made yet, but he’ll likely be headed back to Triple-A to try and regain the .307/.374/.653 form that earned him his opportunity with the Nats to begin with.