Mitch Moreland: No Need To Worry

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I’m also not an advanced stats guy; actually I’m not sure that description is good enough. The way I feel about SABR stats is if I couldn’t figure out the stat when I was in Little League it makes me cringe if I even think about writing with them, so I won’t. I use back of the baseball card stats and observations.

Ron Washington made it clear during the offseason that Mitch Moreland was the Rangers first baseman. Yet nearly every member of Ranger nation was giddy at the hopes of getting Prince Fielder. While that was going on Moreland was trying to get through his wrist surgery and get back to playing at the level that he knows he can. Did he complain once or ask for a trade? No.

The Rangers are off to a spectacular start and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I don’t feel you can look at Moreland the same way that you would look at the other starters, being as he has not been in every game. Even in the games he has played in he has not always been healthy.

In the 7 games in which he has played, Moreland has hit .130/.231/.261 in 26 plate appearances. This is good for less than 4 at bats per game. His BB-K ratio is 3:4 which if he can continue that will be an excellent ratio for the year.

Let’s break down his performance by start to see how he is hitting by comparison:
Game 2: he went 0-4; Adrien Beltre went 0-3. Rangers lost 4-3.
Game 3: he went 0-1 with 2 walks. Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, and Yorvit Torrealba also were 0 for. Rangers won 5-0.
Game 4: Moreland went 2-4, with a 2 run home run and a strikeout. Rangers won 11-5.
Game 5: Moreland went 0-3, Kinsler, Cruz, Michael Young and Napoli also went 0 for. The Rangers won that game 1-0.
Game 6: Moreland went 1-4 with 2 strikeouts. Rangers lost 4-3.
Game 8: Moreland went 0-4. Cruz and David Murphy were also 0 for. The Rangers won 4-1.
Game 12: Moreland went 0-3 including a walk and a strikeout. Rangers won 6-3.

Moreland as you can tell hasn’t been in any of the big run games that have helped to improve the stat line for the Rangers who were batting. He actually has been in 4 of the worst offensive games for the Rangers; including both of the losses, the 1-0 game and the 4-3 game.

In between games 8 and 12 Moreland was out with an abscessed front tooth, it is likely that this had been bothering him for at least a day or two before he was out. Granted it’s not the wrist issue that he was dealing with through most of the 2011 season, that pain was surely good enough to take away some of the concentration that is needed.

Yet perhaps the most interesting thing to glean from this is not the fact the he was playing sick again, but it is the batting averages for Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz at the end of Game 8. Moreland left game 8 with a battering average of .150, Napoli was hitting .118 and Cruz was at .138. Since that game Napoli’s BA has blown up to .289 and Cruz is .264.

Another issue that seems to be plaguing him and his batting average is the problem of playing time. In the 7 games he has played, 6 have been at 1st and 1 start at DH after coming back from his abscessed tooth. Mike Napoli has been at 1st 5 games, and Brandon Snyder has had 2 starts there as well. Moreland will be sharing duties with Napoli throughout the season in order to get his at bats when he isn’t catching.

In the end I feel Moreland will be fine, he was struggle less than Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz were at similar points in their season. It should give Rangers fans moment of hope that he is a hard hitting first baseman who is comfortable with taking a pitch.

As always go Rangers.

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