Even the most devoted sabermetricians generally acknowledge that to understand the numbers often requires a willingness to look behind the numbers.
A case in point is right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore, recently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Mariners’ organization in the TNT Top 10. (And, really, that ranking might be too low, given his achievements.)
The eye test tends to undersell Moore who, at 22, is 6 feet and 195 pounds. More than that, he notably lacks the power velocity normally associated with successful right-handed pitchers in the major leagues.
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"Andrew has never not pitched well in his entire life," farm director Andy McKay said, "going back to high school, Oregon State, summer baseball and minor-league baseball. He has been an incredibly consistent performer."
Check the numbers.
Moore is 13-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 42 games since his selection as the 72nd overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft after a standout career at Oregon State, which followed a standout high school career at North Eugene in Oregon.
He moved from Short-A Everett to Double-A Jackson in less than a year and was picked last season as the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year. This spring, he is among the non-roster invites to big-league camp.
All while defying skeptics each step of the way.
"To me, baseball is a game where (size) doesn’t matter at all," Moore said. "You go out there and you compete. (Houston’s Jose) Altuve is one of the best hitters in the bigs, and he goes out there and plays like he’s the biggest guy on the field."
Moore points to a moment as a freshman at Oregon State that crystallized his situation. He had been the state high school pitcher of the year as a sophomore and junior and the state’s Class 5A player of the year as a senior.
"Technically, I went into Oregon State as an infielder," he said. "My senior year, I was all-state as an infielder. So I was listed among the incoming recruits as an infielder. But pitching is always what I’ve been passionate about."
That first year in Corvallis, prior to his first collegiate start, Moore got some advice from a Chicago Cubs scout.
"He said, `I’ll tell you exactly what I told (now-Toronto infielder) Darwin Barney before his first (college game),’" Moore recalled. "You might be the smallest guy on the field, but you have to play like you’re the biggest.’
"That’s something that really clicked for me. I try to take that out there. I have to compete that much harder and never let my guard down. It’s almost more fun that way. You’re facing big guys. It’s a good challenge for me. I look forward to that."
Further reinforcement came last spring in a conversation with Mariners Hall of Famer Jamie Moyer, a soft-throwing lefty who spent 25 years in the big leagues.
"He talked about how when he got into a tough situation or a big game," Moore said, "he’d try to throw easier because you know that extra adrenaline, that extra little kick you get, is going to be in there.
"But if you try to throw harder, you tense up, and that’s when you’re going to leave one down the middle or get sporadic. That’s something I’ve definitely had to improve on. I’m still working on it, but I’ve seen progress."
Moore is among the longest of shots to break camp this spring with the big-league club. It’s likely (though not improbable) that he won’t even open the season at Triple-A Tacoma.
The Mariners spent their off-season, in part, stockpiling veteran arms who have some big-league experience, including Chris Heston, Dillon Overton, Rob Whalen, Christian Bergman, Micah Owings and Ryan Weber.
They join a returning group that includes Cody Martin and Sam Gaviglio.
That could force Moore back to Double-A, albeit in a new location; the Mariners switched their affiliation in the offseason to Arkansas in the Texas League after a 10-year stay at Jackson in the Southern League.
"Just on experience," general manager Jerry Dipoto acknowledged, "(Moore) might wind up being in a tough spot numbers-wise. But in terms of his ability to perform, he’s as good as any of those guys (who appear likely to land at Tacoma)."
McKay reaffirmed that view.
"Behind the numbers, Moore is an incredibly competitive, high-character person," McKay said. "That trajectory, you can read it just like I can. People who keep getting people out and keep winning games tend to move up.
"I have no doubt in my mind how the story is going to end for Andrew Moore."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners