Jan 19, 2014, 10:10 AM EST
Age on Opening Day 2014: 27
How acquired: Drafted in the 16th round, June 2008
2014 salary: N/A
2013 Stats: 63 G, 178 PA, 16 R, 37 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 0 SB, 8 BB, 58 SO, .222 AVG, .260 OBP, .347 SLG, .607 OPS, 1 E, -5.3 UZR (at OF), -0.6 UZR (at 1B), -1.2 WAR
2014 storyline: Moore enters 2014 with a very good chance to be a key bench player for the Nationals. They saw what he could do two years ago and still have confidence in his future in Major League Baseball. But Moore will probably have to assert himself early in the year, as the Nationals could easily start him out on a short leash. Bench production was such an issue last year and Mike Rizzo has been aggressive in improving their reserve unit. Just this past week they checked in on free agent Mark Reynolds. If Reynolds was signed he would have filled the role Moore is expected to hold down. If the Nationals were serious at all about Reynolds, it could mean Moore is under at least some pressure to perform or else they could have a replacement in mind.
Best-case scenario: There’s no secret that the Nationals do not have a long-term plan at first base, at least in terms of a future starter on their current roster. If Moore were to have a big 2014 season, there is no reason why he couldn’t make the case for himself to be that guy. He proved he was capable of contributing to a playoff team in 2012 and showed flashes of everyday player potential. He took a step back last season, but he will have another very good chance to prove his long-term worth this year. Moore would have to keep his average up despite inconsistent at-bats and once again be the home run threat he was two years ago.
Worst-case scenario: Moore’s 2013 was a disappointment, but it can always get worse. Worst-case scenario for him would probably involve his average dipping even lower than the .222 he posted last season. If that were to happen, he’d probably be sent back to Triple-A and at 27 that’s the last place he wants to be.
Most-likely scenario: What Moore did in 2012 (.263 BA, 10 HR, .840 OPS) is probably the most realistic expectation for him. He was excellent off the bench and a capable starter when guys went to the disabled list. That’s really all the Nationals need him to be this season, and another year like he had in 2012 would make a decent case for him to be a starting first baseman. He could make the Nats’ decision at first base very difficult next offseason, and that’s a problem they would love to have.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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