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Matt Moore isn’t Mike Trout, but he’s a damn good rookie

Aug 20, 2012, 3:15 PM EST

Matt Moore Getty Images

Coming into the season Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Matt Moore ranked 1-2-3 in some order on every prospect list, with each of them holding the top spot for at least one prominent ranking.

Harper got all the early hype, Trout has emerged as the best player in the American League … and Moore has mostly flown under the radar in Tampa Bay.

However, in a normal, non-Trout year Moore would be getting plenty of attention as a Rookie of the Year candidate while thriving at age 23. His overall numbers are solid with a 3.57 ERA in 24 starts, but Moore has been particularly outstanding since getting knocked around for eight runs by the A’s on May 6.

He’s made 18 starts since then and has the following numbers: 109 innings, 2.89 ERA, .217 opponents’ batting average, 110 strikeouts. And that includes a 1.64 ERA and 42/15 K/BB ratio in 44 innings during his last seven starts.

Moore’s control hasn’t been great, but he’s doing exactly what all the people who fell in love with him as a prospect thought he was capable of. It’s just that no one has really noticed because Mike Trout has been MIKE TROUT.

  1. illcomm - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    bryce harper is by far the best in the group. I’m just waiting on the postive test result from Mike trout. what king of kid is built like that. not a natural one.

    • notsofast10 - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      Jackass!

    • chap6869 - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      Clearly you’re a Nats fan…or a moron. Harper is good, Mike Trout has been out of this world good and it’s not even close!!!

      • natslady - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:58 PM

        I’ll go with moron. We love Harper, but be real here, Harper may become great, Trout is great now.

      • natslady - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM

        Not sure why I got a thumbs down for distancing myself–as a Nats fan–from that moron. Oh, well. Maybe he has friends… :)

      • CJ - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        chap, put me down for the pool as guessing “both”.

    • jalana23 - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      I wonder if you will be able to sue people for libel on the internet? Or will it be too difficult to track people? This is pretty much defamation!
      I could also argue every player in the league that has good stats in doing steroids. I can’t prove it. Bryce Harper weighs more than Mike Trout. He must be on the juice. Jeter is having the best years as a 38 year old of all time. He must be doing steroids. Adrew McCutchen never had a year like this. He must be on the juice.
      ALSO
      If you look at pictures of Mike Trout. He must have been doing steroids since high school. Cause he was huge in pictures and film then.

    • southpaw2k - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      Wow, that has to be the most objective comment I’ve read on here in a very long time.

    • stlouis1baseball - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      Built like what illcomm?
      If you mean built like a 21 year old stud baseball player…I submit to you…Mike Trout.
      Oh…and not only is Mike Trout by far the best in this group…he’s the best in MLB right now.
      Conspiracy theorists are annoying. All drama…all the time. Jerry Springer style.

    • spudatx - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Now that’s some serious Natitude! … bleh.

    • jtorrey13 - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      I’m not going to agree with illcomm or argue that Bryce Harper is better than Mike Trout. However, I wanted to look at how close the two are. Let me just give you two stat lines (excuse the column look, but don’t want to have wordpress get all wordpressy on me like for hittfamily – numbers from FanGraphs):

      Trout
      1B – 85
      2B – 22
      3B – 6
      HR – 24
      BABIP – .387
      BB – 42
      SO – 91
      HR/FB% – 22.40%

      Harper
      1B – 61
      2B – 16
      3B – 6
      HR – 12
      BABIP – .292
      BB – 43
      SO – 86
      HR/FB% – 12.10%

      Obviously the big differences between these two phenoms reside in BABIP and HR/FB% (which explain the difference in singles and HRs to some degree.) I’m not sure if either of Trout’s marks in those categories are sustainable, but the HR/FB% might be. (Looking at Albert Pujols over the past 10 years, he only had two years that met Trout’s current HR/FB%, so maybe not. Then again, Pujols’ average HR/FB% over the past eleven years is 19.5%, so he may not drop that far.)

      Fielding Runs: Trout – 5.2; Harper – 7.4 (and since this isn’t a whole season or multiple seasons of fielding information, the caveat of small sample size should be taken.) I was surprised that Trout didn’t blow Harper out of the water.

      The obvious difference is Trout’s ability on the basepaths. 39 SBs with only 3 CS is amazing. 4.2 Baserunning runs vs. -0.9 BsR is a lot of value.

      Trout is fantastic. However, don’t think he is standing that far above Harper hitting wise as it looks right now.

      • jtorrey13 - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:42 PM

        I hate being incomplete:

        Trout
        PA – 454

        Harper
        PA – 427

        I calculated that to get his BABIP around .300, Trout would lose about 26 hits – so his total would be about 59 singles.

      • hittfamily - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:51 PM

        Thanks for the shout out. I think wordpress removed what it deemed to be excessive spaces in my table. Those spaces separated the numbers though. ARRGGHH.

        Cool numbers. Surprisingly similiar. That HR/FB ratio is incredible. That tells me that the guy is making great contact, and squaring it up a lot! Sustainable or not, if you make quality contact a lot, you will get rewarded a lot. So to me, the BABIP is explained by the HR/FB. Good contact explains them both, and could explain why Harper is lagging so far behind in both as well.

        Matt Moore and Yoenis Cespedes are playing for second place this year.

      • tommyshih - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:59 AM

        @hittfamily Just to clarify a couple things regarding how the advanced stats relate to one another and generally what they mean:

        High LD% is the stat that generally tells you if a player is making solid contact and “squaring up the ball up” much more so than a high HR/FB%. Both Trout (23.8%) and Harper (20.5%) have relatively high LD%’s, so they are both squaring it up pretty well when they are making contact. A higher LD% will typically result in a higher BABIP, with the caveat being that LD% is sort of a subjective stat since a human operator looks at every batted ball and determines whether it was a ground ball, line drive or fly out and sometimes a ball could be one or the other. That said, their differences in BABIP can’t just be explained by the LD% alone (Also, Trout’s HR/FB% does not have an effect on his BABIP because HR’s are not considered “in play” and not accounted for within BABIP).

        Two other factors that influence BABIP though are speed and GB% (ground balls have a higher BABIP than fly balls). Trout is obviously incredibly fast, and probably on a different level than Harper in terms of pure speed (and probably a smarter baserunner too). Trout has 15 infield hits vs 10 for Harper. You might expect the difference to be a little more, but Harper has a higher GB% at 45.7% to Trout’s 41.8%.

        The last thing I took at a look at was their PitchFX swing data, and that might shed a little bit more light on the massive difference in BABIP. Trout has a 40.7% swing% coupled with a very strong 83.5% contact rate, while Harper’s is 49.6% with a slightly more average 76.3% contact rate. So Trout is more selective, and makes more (and better–higher LD%) contact when he does swing. Trout also swings at pitches outside of the zone less (28.0% to 34.3%), which might partly explain the better contact that he is making (if it follows that contact out of the zone is more likely to lead to weaker contact). So, while their similar BB and K numbers may lead one to think that their approaches are of equal quality, when you look below the surface, Trout’s approach seems to be more refined.

        Does all of that make up the difference between a .387 vs a .292 BABIP? Probably not.The rest is probably just due to…well, luck and the bounce of the ball. Considering how hard Harper hits the ball, he’s probably hit into a few more unlucky outs, since you’d expect a guy with his speed and hitting as many line drives as he is to be BABIPing well over .300. But it isn’t all luck. Trout has definitely been the better hitter in terms of approach as well as results and has laid down an incredibly strong baseline, even when his gaudy HR/FB rate regresses. But Harper hasn’t been as average as he’s shown either.

        Also, @jtorrey13 it isn’t reasonable to regress Trout’s BABIP to .300 when all his speed, batted ball and swing data say that he should be well above that number. This being his rookie year, we don’t have a baseline for him, but it’s safe to assume that is above .300. Take Dexter Fowler, for example, who is a very speedy player and has very similar career batted ball data to Trout (22.4% LD, 43% GB, 34.4% FB) aside from HR/FB% (which isn’t part of BABIP). His career BABIP is .350. Sure, it fluctuates from a low of .328 to a high of .382 (this year) but his baseline is somewhere around his career number of .350. Every player has a different BABIP baseline based on his skill set.

        TL;DR: This year, it’s not close. Trout has been incredible, while Harper has been slightly above average, which is pretty damn good for a rookie who is the youngest player in baseball. But Trout is on a different level and most of it is not luck.

    • cosanostra71 - Aug 20, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      6’1″ 200 isn’t even that big for a professional athlete. Harper outweighs Trout by 25 pounds…

    • bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      That might just be a thumbs down record.

      Also, only 6 Rangers fans checked in on this post?

  2. stex52 - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    A problem with any “MOST….” award. Moore and Trout do different things. They both do them extremely well, and incredibly well for a rookie. Kind of hard to single one out and not the other. Or two or three others we could also think of.

  3. hittfamily - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Here’s how good Matt Moore has been from a Rays fan’s viewpoint:
    The dude threw 87 pitches in 6.1 IP to the offense with the highest WAR in baseball. He gave up 2 runs runs to the Angels. A solo shot to Trout and a solo shot to Pujols. His control was missing as he repeated missed high with both his fastball and curveball.

    He is a rookie, he was dominant, and yet I still wasn’t satisfied, because I have watched him actually be dominant. When you do that to the Angels, and people still find mistakes, you know you are really freaking good.

    He’s been pretty good for the last month to say the least.

    DAT OPP IP H ER BB K DEC
    8/19 @LAA 6.1 5 2 2 5 W
    8/14 @Sea 7.0 6 1 1 9 ND
    8/9 Tor 6.0 2 1 2 6 W
    8/3 Bal 5.1 6 0 3 6 W
    7/28 @LAA 6.1 4 0 2 6 W
    7/22 Sea 8.0 5 2 0 7 L
    7/17 Cle 5.0 3 2 5 3 W

    • hittfamily - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      NOOOOO. My table was beautiful til wordpress did wordpressy things to it.

      • bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:43 AM

        Normally I wouldn’t help a Rays fan . . . but in the interest of a grander aesthetic here on HBT:

        Go to Baseball-Reference.

        Find your player’s page.

        Go to Game Logs.

        Click SHARE at top right of the Game Logs table.

        Delete any rows that you don’t want by clicking on the red-X on the left hand side of the table.

        Delete any columns that you don’t want by clicking on the red-X on the top of each row.

        (Unfortunately, if you mess up and delete a column that you want to include, you need to start over.)

        Select ‘pre-formatted text’ option from top-right of the table. A pop-up box displays a text box with the table-formatted and ready to be copied-and-pasted.

        Place cursor in text box, and Ctrl-A to Select All, then Ctrl-C to Copy.

        Come back over here, place the cursor where you want to insert the table into your post (be sure to leave space after your last paragraph).

        Post Your Comment and witness the magic!

                                                                               
        Date      Tm Opp Rslt     Dec    IP   H ER BB  SO  ERA           Exited
        July      Tm Opp Rslt     Dec    IP   H ER BB  SO  ERA           Exited
        Jul17    TBR CLE W4-2  W(6-6)   5.0   3  2  5   3 4.39 6t 1– 0 out  a1
        Jul22    TBR SEA L1-2  L(6-7)   8.0   5  2  0   7 4.23     8t 3 out  d1
        Jul28    TBR LAA W3-0  W(7-7)   6.1   4  0  2   6 4.01 7b — 1 out  a3
        August    Tm Opp Rslt     Dec    IP   H ER BB  SO  ERA           Exited
        Aug3     TBR BAL W2-0  W(8-7)   5.1   6  0  3   6 3.84 6t -2- 1 out  a1
        Aug9     TBR TOR W7-1  W(9-7)   6.0   2  1  2   6 3.73     6t 3 out  a5
        Aug14    TBR SEA         L2-3   7.0   6  1  1   9 3.60     7b 3 out  a1
        Aug19    TBR LAA W8-3 W(10-7)   6.1   5  2  2   5 3.57 7b 1– 1 out  a4
                                  TBR 143.2 126 57 65 138                  3.57
        

        Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 8/21/2012.

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