Matt Moore isn’t Mike Trout, but he’s a damn good rookie

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Coming into the season Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Matt Moore ranked 1-2-3 in some order on every prospect list, with each of them holding the top spot for at least one prominent ranking.

Harper got all the early hype, Trout has emerged as the best player in the American League … and Moore has mostly flown under the radar in Tampa Bay.

However, in a normal, non-Trout year Moore would be getting plenty of attention as a Rookie of the Year candidate while thriving at age 23. His overall numbers are solid with a 3.57 ERA in 24 starts, but Moore has been particularly outstanding since getting knocked around for eight runs by the A’s on May 6.

He’s made 18 starts since then and has the following numbers: 109 innings, 2.89 ERA, .217 opponents’ batting average, 110 strikeouts. And that includes a 1.64 ERA and 42/15 K/BB ratio in 44 innings during his last seven starts.

Moore’s control hasn’t been great, but he’s doing exactly what all the people who fell in love with him as a prospect thought he was capable of. It’s just that no one has really noticed because Mike Trout has been MIKE TROUT.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.