Name: Moises Sierra
Position: Right field
After not doing particularly well as a rookie in 49 games in 2012 (hitting .224/.274/.374), Moises Sierra was only really expected to provide outfield depth in the minor leagues in 2013. ZiPS projected him to hit .241/.294/.381 over 494 plate appearances with a wOBA of .295 and a BABIP of .285. Over the equivalent of a full season, the ZiPS projection system expected 15 home runs and 53 RBI out of Sierra.
Coming into the season, the Blue Jays seemed to be set for outfielders with Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera and Rajai Davis all having spots on the 25-man roster locked up. With Anthony Gose ahead of Sierra on the depth chart (albeit at a different position), Moises knew he was going to spend this season in Buffalo. A strong showing in the World Baseball Classic had people optimistic on what Sierra might provide.
Sierra missed some time in the minor league season due to injury. He went on the DL on July 4 (not having played since June 29) and after two weeks, he was assigned to the GCL Blue Jays for rehab on July 18 and was activated back to the Buffalo roster on July 22. Sierra was recalled to the Toronto Blue Jays on August 21 to replace the injured Jose Bautista.
Despite playing in only 35 games for the 2013 Blue Jays, Moises Sierra’s numbers (the rate stats, at least) look an awful lot like they did playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2012. That season, Sierra hit .289/.360/.472 with 17 home runs in 422 plate appearances. You can tell from a quick glance at the stats above that Sierra hit .290/.369/.458, trading a few points of slugging percentage for a few more in on-base percentage.
Looking at Sierra’s year-over-year improvements in his exposure to the major leagues, you can see that, even though his home run totals were down (6 in 157 plate appearances in 2012), Sierra’s plate discipline numbers were way up. In 2012, Sierra only walked 5.1% and struck out 28% of the time. 2013 shows a much better approach with an 11.5% walk rate and a 23.8% strikeout rate. While he still strikes out a lot, if he can maintain that walk rate in the major leagues and combine it with his solid bat, he’s going to be just fine.
It will be interesting to see what the Blue Jays do this off-season. Sierra’s future is pretty much in the balance as I don’t think many people in the front office see him as a core player or future star. I think he’s good enough to be a solid fourth outfielder in the majors (or even a starter on a team without playoff aspirations) but Kevin Pillar offers better defense and flexibility for a fourth outfielder role than Sierra does. Sierra is not known for his defense (despite an absolute cannon for an arm) nor for his baserunning acumen and becomes somewhat of a liability in the field and on the basepaths.
I can see Sierra traded over the off-season whether it’s in a one-for-one type of deal or as part of a package. I think that he has a similar value to other teams as Eric Thames and Travis Snider did although Sierra’s offensive potential plays better in the major leagues. I’ve also heard the suggestion that Sierra could take on a platoon DH role with Adam Lind (assuming he returns) next season, hitting against left-handed pitchers. Looking over the numbers, right-handed hitting Sierra actually put up a better line against righties, hitting .315/.393/.452 in 84 plate appearances against right-handed pitching compared to a .235/.316/.471 line in 38 plate appearances against lefties. His minor league splits in 2013 show a similar picture to this but interestingly, Sierra’s splits favoured lefties a huge amount in 2012. In other words, it seems as though Sierra has figured out how to hit right-handed pitchers at the major league level and using him in only platoon situations would be a waste.