Which Utility Player Should The Mariners Keep For September?
The Mariners are going to have a tough roster decision to make about Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty in the coming month or so.
As the playoffs near, and as they get closer to their first playoff birth since 2001, they are going to figure out how to construct their best possible squad in September when the rosters expand to 28 players to finish out the regular season and seal October baseball.
Major League Baseball has made the limit of 14 pitchers on the roster which the Mariners will almost certainly expand to for the month, meaning that they will only carry 14 field players on the roster which makes for a few question marks.
There are a bunch of obvious locks for the field players. Ty France, Carlos Santana, Adam Frazier, JP Crawford, Eugenio Suarez, Cal Raleigh, and either Curt Casali or Luis Torrens will make it. Julio Rodriguez, Jesse Winker, Jarred Kelenic, and Kyle Lewis are it for the outfield. Mitch Haniger is also a lock now that he has officially been activated and Abraham Toro has been sent down to AAA Tacoma. Jake Lamb is pretty close to a lock as well after the Mariners traded for him on the day of the deadline.
That leaves one spot available on the major league roster and two players who will be fighting for it, Haggerty and Moore.
The case for Mariners UTIL Sam Haggerty
Haggerty has had a fantastic season so far this year. He hasn’t been an everyday player for the Mariners but he has certainly been invaluable as a baserunner, ranking in the 96th percentile for sprint speed, and an outfielder while the team had dealt with injuries to Julio, Mitch, Lewis, Moore and through slumps of Jesse Winker.
He has appeared in 38 games this year for Seattle and is batting .303 with a .859 OPS. He also has three games of three hits in the month of July alone, four for the year. Haggerty is sixth on the team in WAR with a 1.2.
His role has increased since he first came up this year in May. He went from an appearance or two every few days to now practically being an everyday player, whether that is him starting or coming in late in the game to pinch run.
Haggerty isn’t even an outfielder by choice, he is an infielder who is able to play the outfield very well with a 0.2 DWAR which ranks sixth on the team. He also is one of three players on the M’s roster who has over 200 innings played and no errors along with Kelenic and Taylor Trammell.
Another aspect of Haggerty’s game that is valuable, is the fact that he is a switch hitter. Haggerty has used that to his advantage mightily. He is hitting .550 off of left-handed pitching. Yes, .550 batting average in 22 plate appearances this year. He does drop off back to .214 against righties and has a lot more strikeouts. But, he only has one less extra-base hit batting right-handed as he does left-handed.
The ability to switch hit is what makes him, Santana, and Raleigh all valuable to have on the roster.
The case for Mariners UTIL Dylan Moore
Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty are very similar players. Moore, like Haggerty, isn’t a natural outfielder. He’s an infielder playing in the outfield. He also provides fantastic speed to the roster to use as a pinch runner. Moore ranks second on the roster with 11 stolen bases this reason, second only to Julio with 21.
Moore has been hitting at around his career average this season posting a .197/.350/.367 slash line. He ranks fourth on the team in on-base percentage ranking just ahead of Haggerty and way ahead of Toro. Moore has been very good at producing walks this season with 26, right in between Julio with 28 and Ty with 24.
Although the basic stats like slugging percentage and extra-base hits don’t necessarily show it, Dylan Moore has the pop that Haggerty lacks. He ranks in the 70th percentile for exit velocity while Haggerty is in the 52nd percentile.
Moore’s versatility in the infield, even getting appearances at every position other than pitcher and catcher while Haggerty this year has only appeared in the outfield with a single appearance at second. The Mariners certainly trust Moore to do anything in the lineup and that has to mean something when constructing the roster for a playoff push.
If I was Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, I would go with Haggerty
If all of the Mariners pieces are healthy and clicking, it is very likely we wouldn’t see either Moore or Haggerty outside of a rest day or for pinch-running. An outfield with Julio, Winker, and Haniger with Kelenic as a first-choice substitute is what the Mariners would likely prefer.
But with what we have seen this year from Haggerty, it is too hard to keep him off the roster. But what goes into the decision just as much as Haggerty’s production is that Moore hasn’t been at his best this season, especially not recently.
He was put on the 10-day IL on the same day as Julio as he left a game against the Astros with back spasms but is expected to come back once his mandatory stint is over. But before that, he hasn’t exactly been hot. He has hits in three of his last 14 games, but in those games, he has gotten two hits in all three games.
Moore has been very prone to strikeouts this season. He is tied for fifth on the Mariners strikeouts with Ty France at 56. But here’s the kicker, he has less than half of the at-bats. Moore has struck out in just over 38 percent of his at-bats this year.
The most important thing for any team is scoring runs. The Mariners have particularly struggled to do so this year as they are tied for 21st in runs scored with the 42-63 Chicago Cubs. You have to be able to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position. Moore is batting .214 with RISP with 11 RBIs and 12 strikeouts. Haggerty is batting .333 with six RBI but he does have eight strikeouts of his own in half of the at-bats.
If the time came this year for either Haggerty or Moore to get an at-bat with the game on the line, I’m taking Sam. Moore has been extremely clutch for the Mariners, see the bomb he hit off of Brooks Raley to cap a massive comeback against Houston last year, but Haggerty has been the better player this year.
Moore has more versatility in the field, but neither would be paying much in the field anyway. And if they did it would likely be in the outfield. Moore has a -0.1 DWAR this year compared to the 0.2 DWAR for Haggerty.
The main utilization for both of utility guys would be for late or close game base running and Haggerty has been better running the bases. He only has five stolen bases. But he hasn’t been caught stealing once. Moore on the other hand has 11 stolen bases but has been caught five times. For as fast as Moore is he has been caught stealing 24 times on 79 attempts in his career with Seattle.