'He's not afraid': Versatile Moore doing it all

September 12th, 2020

Even in difficult defeats this season, the Mariners continue learning things about their young ballclub. The latest lesson – or perhaps just another strong reminder – in the wake of Friday’s 4-3 loss to the D-backs is that appears to be earning a place in Seattle’s future plans.

Wherever manager Scott Servais has used him this season, the versatile Moore has delivered. With shortstop J.P. Crawford placed on the bereavement list due to a death in the family, Moore moved into the leadoff spot and launched his seventh home run of the season in the third inning with a 432-foot solo blast.

Moore, making his seventh start of the season in left field, also reached in the first on an error and stole his team-leading 10th base of the season. Despite missing nine games at the end of August with a sprained right wrist, Moore is fourth in the Majors in stolen bases and one of just two players – along with the Rockies’ Trevor Story – with 10 stolen bases and seven-plus home runs.

“Dylan has had an awesome year, doing what he can defensively all over the field,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “And offensively, it continues. We’ll continue to play him every day. Where does he settle in? What position is best for him? I’m not quite sure, but he can do so much, he’s a great asset to have on the ballclub.”

Moore has started at every defensive position except center field and catcher this season. He played far more outfield than expected early, then seemed destined for more time at second base in place of the struggling Shed Long Jr., until the Mariners acquired Ty France at the Trade Deadline and started using him there as well.

But Moore isn’t worried about where he’s at in the field, as long as he’s in the lineup.

“I want to play every day and I knew my opportunities would be a little staggered at first,” he said. “But I knew if I showed a little consistency and willingness to play multiple positions and showed my value that way, then I would get a shot. That’s all this game is about is opportunities. You try to take advantage, and I’m happy I’ve done that so far and want to continue to do that.”

While no one thinks of the 6-foot, 185-pound utility man as a slugger, he’s tied with Kyle Seager for second on the Mariners in home runs, leads the team in slugging percentage at .563 and OPS at .925 and his average exit velocity on balls put in play is second on the team to first baseman Evan White.

Moore isn’t a speed burner in the style of Mallex Smith or Dee Strange-Gordon. His average sprint speed, per Statcast, is fifth on the team among position players currently on the roster and eighth if you include some now at the alternate training site. But his 10 stolen bases speak loudly on a team that leads the AL with 42.

“I’m just trying to score runs any way I can,” said Moore. “They give me a pretty good green light. I’m just trying to increase my value as a baseball player and be productive not only at the plate and [on] defense, but on the bases as well. I think, as a group, we’ve grown in that regard. We’re younger and more athletic and we’re using that to our advantage.”

Chalk it up as just another weapon in Moore’s growing arsenal.

“He can run and his instincts on the bases are outstanding,” Servais said. “He just has a great feel. He’s not afraid, he’s very aggressive. Just the overall skill set he brings is pretty exciting. He’s just starting to figure it out, too, getting an opportunity to play every day and you’re starting to see him grow. And why not? That’s what we're about is giving these young guys a chance and he’s certainly taken advantage of the opportunity.”

France added his own solo shot -- his first homer since being acquired from the Padres on Aug. 30 -- to cut Arizona’s lead to 4-3 in the eighth, but Seattle fell to 0-3 on a road trip that loomed large in the club’s chances of pushing its way into playoff position.

At 19-25, the Mariners sit 2 1/2 games behind the Astros for the No. 2 AL West postseason berth with 16 games remaining and are 4 1/2 games out of the American League’s No. 8 Wild Card berth after the Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Orioles.