Drafted but Unsigned Cardinal: Mike Moore

Mike Moore was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals but turned them down and later, earned a ring under Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan in Oakland.

It is time to unveil the eighth of our top 10 players once drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, but signed elsewhere and performed well. The covered period runs from the start of the modern draft in 1965 through 1980.

Being eighth in this countdown means that only two others on this almost-Cardinals team amassed more career bWAR. I remembered pitcher Mike Moore was good for some time, but I did not realize that he put together a 28.2 bWAR career, highest among pitchers in this group.

The Cardinals thought enough of Moore to name him as their third-round selection in the 1978 draft. Instead of signing with St. Louis, however, Moore remained in his home state of Oklahoma, playing for Oral Roberts University. By 1981, his stock improved further, to the point that he was the first pick of the draft, going to Seattle.

The 6-foot-4, 205 pounder made his professional debut at the Double-A level and after just 13 starts, stepped into the Mariners’ rotation in April 1982. Moore’s breakout campaign was in 1985, when he won 17 games for the sixth-place, 74-win M’s and finished in the top 10 of the American League Cy Young Award balloting.

During his seven years with Seattle, the club never achieved a winning record and finished in last place in two of this final three seasons there. 30 games under .500 for his career at that point, Moore became a free agent following the 1988 season.

Joining Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan and the talented A’s for the 1989 season was about as big of a change as could have been possible for Moore. That became his top season, with career bests in wins (19) and ERA (2.61) for which he was recognized as the third-place finisher in the Cy Young Award vote and an AL All-Star.

Though Moore would pitch in the post-season in three of the next four years, 1989 was his playoff peak, as well. He helped lead the A’s to the World Championship by yielding just three earned runs in 20 innings for a 1.35 ERA. Moore went 3-0 as Oakland defeated Toronto and San Francisco on the way to the title.

Moore averaged 17 wins and a 3.45 ERA over his four years with the A’s. He pitched in the World Series again in 1990, but moved on to Detroit as a free agent following the 1992 season. His control, worsening during his stint in Oakland, continued to decline with the Tigers to the point he not once struck out more batters than he walked in his three seasons with Detroit.

Moore still managed to win 24 games against 19 losses over his first two Tigers seasons despite ERAs well over five. It all fell apart during 1995, his third and final season with Detroit, to the tune of a 5-15 record with a 7.53 ERA over 25 starts. Moore was released that September and called it a career at age 35.

St. Louis third-rounder in 1978 finished his 14 years in the majors with a 161-176 record and a 4.39 ERA.

Stay tuned as the final two members of this team are named, those with the most career bWAR. For more details on the All-Drafted, but Unsigned Team, click here.



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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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