Coming into 2014, Steven Moya was a large human being with a lot of raw tools. After 2014, Steven Moya is still a large human being with a lot of raw tools, but is also the reigning MVP of the Eastern League.
At this point, it goes without saying that Steven Moya is a physical specimen. At 23 years old, Moya stands a towering 6'6", and weighs in at 230 lbs. He was added to the 40-man roster before last spring training in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but was not considered a realistic option to head north with the club. However, after Andy Dirks went down with a back injury, Moya's name started to pop up a little bit more as a guy that could possibly surprise everyone and make the team. While I never thought of that as a legitimate possibility due to him never playing a game above Single A, Moya did have a spring that opened a lot eyes.
In March, Moya played in thirteen games with the Tigers and produced a line of .333/.364/.524, with three of his seven hits going for extra bases. Mix that with the fact that he hits left handed and is generally thought of as a good defensive corner outfielder, and he fit the bill for what the Tigers were looking for to replace Dirks with.
Despite all of that, the Tigers made the right move and sent him to Double A where he tore up the Eastern League. In 572 plate appearances, he hit .276/.306/.552 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI. Those numbers at the plate were good for a .373 wOBA and 131 wRC+. His 4.2 percent walk rate and 29.3 percent strikeout rate are both extremely concerning moving forward, but that didn't seem to stop Moya in 2014. During his time in Erie, Moya literally rewrote the offensive record books, setting single season records in home runs, RBI, and total bases. As I mentioned before, he also earned honors as the MVP of the Eastern League.
Moya was also named to the Eastern League All-Star team, and was the Tigers lone representative in the MLB Futures Game. Although he went hitless in the Futures Game, Moya was named MVP of the Eastern League All-Star Game by hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning to give the Western All-Star team the lead.
As was projected, Moya was honored for his stellar season in Erie by being a September call-up to the Tigers. As is the case for most young players getting a cup of coffee on a contending team deep in a pennant race, Moya was never really given any legitimate shot to show what he could do. He got his first hit in his first at bat during the ninth inning of a blowout game in Cleveland, a seeing-eye single through the whole between the first and second baseman. In a mere eight plate appearances, Moya had three hits and scored two runs.
There is no possible way to grade a guy based on an eight plate appearance sample size. I wish Moya would have gotten a few more chances to pinch hit down the stretch, especially when Brad Ausmus was opting to go with Ezequiel Carrera instead, but there is no way of telling whether or not he would have gotten enough chances to possibly come off the bench in the playoffs.
Steven Moya will once again head to spring training as a member of the 40-man roster in 2015, only this time he will be given a legitimate chance to make the team. Don't get me wrong, I still think that Moya has a lot more to do in the minors in terms of figuring out his approach at the plate, but the Tigers outfield state is desperate at the moment. One would expect Dombrowski to do something about that as free agency heats up.
Another big spring could put Moya on the fast track to being in Detroit, but I hope that isn't the case. By all means I want him to succeed, but I think it would be much smarter to let him play the year in Triple A where he can continue to refine his approach. Regardless, we know Moya has a metric ton of raw power. Now, if he could just figure out a plan at the plate, Steven Moya's stint with the Tigers next year might be a little more than a simple cup of coffee.