Moore Analysis

With projected catcher Rob Johnson slow to heal from offseason hip surgery, it’s becoming more and more likely the Seattle Mariners could open the season with prospect Adam Moore as the starter. The 24-year-old has responded positively to his opportunity in Spring Training, as he enters Friday 8-for-14 at the plate in Peoria. Moore is the most talented catcher in the Mariners organization, so it’s certainly possible this opportunity could be a springboard into a full-time position in 2010 and going forward. Today, I want to look at how Moore looks as a prospect, given what we already know about WAR’s affinity for catchers.

Let’s start with the defense, where the consensus is such that Moore has work to do with his receiving skills, but remains a modest talent behind the plate. He threw out 31% of runners last season, which is neither positive or negative, which tends to reflect scouts’ overall impressions of his defensive capabilities. We don’t even factor defensive plus-minus for catchers into our WAR calculations, but it’s something that you should consider for any catcher’s runs above replacement tally. I think in a full season of work, Moore would be a -2.5 behind the plate — no one believes he is a positive, but given that there has never even been talk of moving him from backstop, we have to assume he won’t be bad defensively.

The problem with that adjustment is when I say “a full season of work.” Catchers aren’t ever given this, and Moore will never be so good offensively that he will DH in his off days. So, even a perfect world projection of Moore’s ultimate playing time would suggest 100-130 games per season. We have also begun to account for a non-perfect world projection in the Replacement adjustment of our calculation. Ultimately, there’s three possibilities for Moore’s career: regular catcher, back-up catcher, and bust. I truly believe the latter is the least possible outcome; Clay Davenport’s minor league translations have Moore at .265/.315/.397 as a 24 year old in Triple-A. He’s ready.

If we say the perfect world projection for Moore is 125 games (we’re calling it 480 PA’s), a bust represents 0 games, and a back-up gig probably is good for about 180 plate appearances. I’m going to say the likelihood of outcomes is something like 40/20/40 — which works out to 264 PA’s. This would mean 8.8 in the replacement adjustment (versus +16 perfect world), +5.5 in the positional adjustment (versus +10) and changes our defensive dock to only 1.1 negative runs.

I’ll look at this 480 PA perfect world projection to predict offensive performance. Again, we’re going to stray from the scientific when considering offensive projection to keep things concise. I’m thinking 20% strikeout rate, 7.5% walk rate, a .290 BABIP, and 12 home runs. So in 480 plate appearances: 96 K, 36 BB, 4 HBP, 12 HR, 1 3B, 35 2B, 60 1B, 3 RBOE. That’s a .321 wOBA, which by the way, is exactly what the fans projected for Moore this season. I’m going to call Moore -2 offensively.

So, perfect world, we have: -2 offense, +16 replacement, +10 def. adjustment, -2 defense: 2.2 WAR. And, non-scientifically accounting for his bust potential leaves us with: -2 offense, +8.8 replacement, +5.5 def. adjustment, -1.1 defense: 1.1 WAR. Interestingly, that represents the same “floor” I projected Domonic Brown at earlier in the week, but a far cry from the 3.8 perfect world that Brown was given. It passes the smell test for me, and I think Mariners fans will be happy to get 2 wins from the catching spot: Dan Wilson and Kenji Johjima only did that six times in 15 years.

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11 Responses to “Moore Analysis”

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  1. kellemonster says:

    So what’s his slash? I know all the data is there to calculate it out myself, but I feel lazy right now.

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  2. diderot says:

    Nice analysis in the abstract. However, in a real world context, it must be said that he deserves the full time gig based on the incredible ineptitude of Rob Johnson.

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  3. Llewdor says:

    Given that Rob Johnson possesses no baseball-relevant skills, this can only be a good thing for the Mariners.

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  4. robbbbbb says:

    I’m the least thing from a Rob Johnson defender that you can find, but I wouldn’t say that the man has “no baseball skills.” Johnson put up 0.3 WAR last year in 80 games. He’s a decent backup catcher.

    I think Mariner fans have been spoiled from watching Dan Wilson for years. Wilson was one of the better defensive catchers out there. He had terrific pitch blocking skills and good catch-and-throw skills. Just because a catcher isn’t Dan Wilson doesn’t mean he’s useless defensively.

    I think the M’s will be a better team if Adam Moore comes out and wins the job in spring training, but I don’t think a month or two of Rob Johnson is a disaster.

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    • JLProck says:

      I’m not down on Rob Johnson because Dan Wilson was skilled defensively. I’m down on Rob Johnson because I’m tired of watching pitch after pitch get dropped, and quality throws to the plate being bobbled.

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  5. Fresh Hops says:

    There are three kinds of catchers: long term, short term, and should have been short term. Moore is one of the latter two: guys who are good defensively aren’t super-hard to find but mixing that with a hitter is tough, and I think clubs should just cycle through the defenders until a long term catcher (i.e. catcher who can hit) arrives.

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  6. maqman says:

    I think Moore’s going to turn out to be as good as Wilson if he avoids significant injuries.

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  7. hamandcheese says:

    In Rob Johnson’s defence, he played excellent defense.

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  8. reader input says:

    Montero #8? Reallly?

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