OAKLAND, Calif. – Dylan Moore smirked for a moment when he was asked about some recent swing changes.
For a season that has gone so wrong for him at the plate, costing him a starting spot at second base and returning him to the bench and utility role that he promoted his way out of with his performance in 2020, he had the perfect response:
“I’ve been doing nothing but swing changes since April,” he said with a little self-derision. “Something had to change.”
But the most recent change, in which he keeps his right elbow pushed down and close to his body instead of lifting it in the air, has yielded some positive results in these final weeks of the season.
Moore had two hard-hit balls, drove in a run and scored a run in the Mariners’ victory over the Royals on Sunday.
He’s had five hits in his past 11 at-bats. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but it’s something to build on.
“I was getting too steep with my bat path,” he said. “Keeping that elbow down and close to my body allows me to stay more directional to the ball and cleaned up some other issues with my swing.”
More important for Moore, he’s reduced his strikeouts considerably. In his past 25 plate appearances coming into Monday, he’s struck out just twice. In August, he had 47 plate appearances and struck out 15 times.
“D-Mo made a swing change and it’s something he’s been working on with the hitting coaches, and it started to show up actually about a week and a half to 10 days ago. I just noticed it in batting practice one day,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I’m always out there throwing BP. It’s one of the reasons I’d love to do it. You quickly see when guys are trying to do some different things. I saw it probably three to four weeks ago with what Jake Bauers was trying to do. About 10 days ago, D-Mo was definitely doing something different to get his swing started, cleaning up his bat path a little bit in just how the ball was coming off his bat and how the bat was traveling through the zone. It’s starting to pay off for him. The last few games he’s being very competitive (at the plate). He’s doing a better job of getting on time and being on time with the fastball and getting it in play.”
For a grinder like Moore, who knows his spot on a big-league roster can be taken away from him at any time, it’s still important to find success going into the offseason, particularly in a year that hasn’t gone to his expectations.
Moore currently has a .182/. 278/.340 slash line with 10 doubles, a triple, 12 homers, 41 RBI, 37 walks, 102 strikeouts and a team-high 21 stolen bases. Could a strong showing in the final 13 games of the season make the numbers a little more palatable?
The Mariners will likely go out and find another infielder to play either second or third base next season to go with shortstop J.P. Crawford, first baseman Ty France and versatile infielder Abraham Toro. It means Moore will be back in a familiar role, but the Mariners value his speed on the bases – he’s their best base runner – and his defensive versatility, which still will mean plenty of playing time.
Notes — Ty France made his 162nd appearance with the Mariners since being acquired last season in a trade with the Padres. In those 162 games, France had a .296/.367/447 slash line with 84 runs scored, 34 doubles, 2 triples, 18 home runs, 76 RBI, 46 walks and 26 hit-by-pitches while compiling 4.5 WAR (Baseball-Reference).
Jake Bauers’ 460-foot homer Sunday was the seventh farthest homer by a Mariner in the MLB Statcast era (2015-present). Mike Zunino (two) and Nelson Cruz (four) have hit homers deeper than 460 feet. Bauers’ homer at Kauffman Stadium is the longest ever by a Mariners left-hander in the Statcast era, surpassing Robinson Cano’s 449-foot homer on Sept. 22, 2014.