Besides playing everywhere on the diamond, and being rather solid across the board, Seattle’s Dylan Moore was a lightning rod for fantasy baseball managers in 2020. He was one of eight players to steal at least 12 bases in the shortened 2020 season and was one of just four to hit at least eight home runs and steal 12 bags. The other three were Trevor Story, Trea Turner and Whit Merrifield, all of whom are projected to go in the top three or four rounds in most drafts (15-teamers) this season. After a measly .206 average in 113 games in the 2019 season, he bumped it up to .255, thanks in large part to harder contact and cutting his strikeout rate by six percentage points. Between his 2019 and 2020 seasons, we nearly have a full season from Moore, and this is what his numbers add up to:
2019-2020: .224/.323/.427 with 17 HR and, 57 runs scored, 45 RBI and 23-of-37 on stolen base attempts
Since the start of the 2019 season, ignoring games played, Moore is one of 27 players to have swiped at least 23 bags and one of 17 to have at least 17 homers to go with it. Now, in that span, he’s tied with Jonathan Villar with the second-most caught stealing attempts (14), which trails only Kansas City’s Adalberto Mondesi (15) over the last two years.
The fact that he’s running and running so frequently is good for his stolen base potential, and floor for that fact, but you’d love to see the efficiency improve. A 62 percent success rate is far from ideal. In 447 minor league games, he went 92-for-120 on stolen base attempts, good for an 81.7 percent success rate. We’d love for his success rate in 2021 to be closer to his success rate in the minors, but it does take time, and the 28-year-old has less than a full season under his belt.
In terms of his batted ball profile, there were a lot of developments from 2020 that we have to like. First off, he cut his strikeout rate down from 33 percent to 27 percent. That is excellent, and is a key contributor to his batting average that jumped nearly 50 points. No, it wasn’t all BABIP folks, as that only increased by about 24 points. He made more contact out of the zone, which helped with missing out of the zone, and a slight increase on zone contact helped as well.
Another reason for the jump in batting average was the force with which he hit the baseball. Per FanGraphs, you won’t see a large spike in his hard contact rate, but holy soft contact rate!
- In 2019, of players with at least 250 plate appearances, Moore had the 19th-highest soft contact rate at 22.6 percent, which rivaled Jordy Mercer (23.1%) and Jarrod Dyson (21.8%).
- In 2020, of players with at least 150 plate appearances, Moore had the 11th-lowest soft contact rate at 9.6 percent, which was in line with Freddie Freeman (9.6%) and Francisco Lindor (9.6%)
That is a momentous shift! His average exit velocity jumped two miles per hour, and his barrel rate jumped over seven percentage points! In fact, if he would have had enough at-bats/plate appearances to qualify, he would have been one of just four players to see their barrel rate from 2019 jump at least seven percentage points in the 2020 season.
All of this is certainly positive, and I don’t want to diminish it, because it is impressive, but in terms of exit velocity, the only substantial gain was against fastballs, and the same rings true for his barrel rate.
In 2020, he hit .348 against four-seamers, .333 against cutters, .500 against splitters and .304 against sinkers. Everything else was below .235. If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, one can expect a healthy amount of non-fastballs for Moore in 2021, especially when he gets behind in the count. There will be no reason to throw him what he destroyed in 2020.
Despite hitting fewer fly balls, his added hard contact helped elevate his HR/FB ratio. Compared to 2019, on fly balls and line drives specifically, his exit velocity jumped nearly three miles per hour, according to FanGraphs. That’s excellent. However, since 2019, only four of his 23 home runs have come off non-fastballs. Again, this is a likely avenue pitchers will look to explore in 2021.
Moore could spend some time hitting leadoff for the Mariners, but he didn’t perform well there last year. Perhaps he hits second, which would be fine too. He’s a dual-threat guy with multiple positions to his name, which helps lineup flexibility and increases the overall appeal for Moore. He will need to keep the strikeouts down and improve against non-fastballs if he wants to avoid his batting average dropping back into the .220 range. He has every opportunity to get to 20/20 on the year, and he could even add more positions to his ledger throughout the season.
He’s a bit pricy, going around pick 120 in NFBC drafts, and the premium on speed is pushing him up in some drafts, depending on the room. He’ll almost need to go 20/20 to provide a return on investment for his managers if his batting average squanders, but if he can be more successful on the bases, watch out, he could go bananas.