The Texas Rangers went into Spring Training being committed to Mitch Moreland at first base and this doesn’t seem to have changed despite the fact that Chris Davis, also a first baseman, has put up impeccable numbers thus far this spring and wants his chance on the Opening Day roster.
Moreland was called up from Triple-A late in July 2010. The Rangers saw him as valuable to the Major League team and never sent him back to the Minors. In 145 at-bats, Moreland had a batting average of .255 with nine home runs. In the Rangers’ postseason, Moreland was at first base for 15 games and hit a .348 with a single home run and four doubles. And after all, it was Moreland’s Game 3 home run that gained the only World Series win for the Rangers in 2010.
So far this spring, the 25-year-old is hitting a .373 with 3 home runs and 10 RBIs in 51 plate appearances in the Cactus League. He has done everything that the Rangers have asked him to do – especially improve.
Ron Washington says, “His camp has been outstanding. He’s had great at-bats. He’s made great plays on the defensive end. He’s worked hard. He’s done what I needed him to do: improve.”
His offense has been good since he was called up and his defense was decent last year and has seen improvement this spring. This gives the Rangers no reason to not give him the everyday first baseman job when they came into camp committed to him holding that role.
As for Chris Davis, his stats are better than Moreland’s. Davis is hitting .409 with four home runs and a team-high of 15 RBIs in his 44 at-bats. Despite the fact that his stats are better than Moreland’s, the club remains fully committed to Mitch at first base.
With Adrian Beltre at third, Davis’ other played position, and Mike Napoli finding time at first and Michael Young playing some time at both infield corners, there is no room on the Opening Day roster for Davis. The Rangers have nowhere to put him even if they wanted to.
What does that mean for Davis? Well, the Rangers are likely going to send him back down to Round Rock unless they are able to deal him for a closer should the team decide to put Neftali Feliz in the starting rotation. Davis will definitely be tearing up Minor League pitchers this season and hitting a number of balls out of the park.
While the official word hasn’t been given yet, it doesn’t look like the first base job is Moreland’s to lose anymore. It looks to me as though he has a solid hold on it and will be the Rangers first baseman come April 1.