Apr 19, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland (18) laughs during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Mitch Moreland: An Everyday First Baseman?

As I type this, I feel it necessary to clarify that you and I both know and realize that yes, the season is still young and we’re working with relatively nothing of discernible value in terms of 2013 statistics. Nonetheless, Mitch Moreland is not worthy of being an everyday first baseman on a first division team. Whoa, that escalated quickly, didn’t it? Please, let me explain.

Mitch Moreland made his MLB debut on July 29, 2010. Moreland was essentially the replacement for the formerly highly touted, Justin Smoak, whom was packaged together in the trade with Seattle that sent Cliff Lee to Texas. Since Moreland’s debut in 2010, he has accumulated 1.2 fWAR over 315 games. Sure, Moreland has exhibited flashes of prodigious power, but his obvious Achilles’ heel has been his inability to hit LHP. For his career in 223 PA against LHP, Moreland has posted a 57 wRC+ and a wOBA of .267, which is truly awe inspiring for all of the wrong reasons (awe inspiring for the fact that Ron Washington trusts Moreland to be the everyday first baseman in 2013). Conversely, Moreland has been above average against RHP. In 889 PA against RHP, Moreland has posted a 109 wRC+ and a wOBA of .344. If utilized correctly in a platoon role, Moreland would provide the Rangers with some marginal offensive value, but as an everyday first baseman, Moreland is well short of getting the job done. To prove my point, since 2010, out of 39 qualifying first basemen, Mitch Moreland ranks 31st in wRC+ and 30th in wOBA, which is simply not acceptable for a first division team.

So sure, the 2013 season is still young, but the odds of Mitch Moreland suddenly becoming able to hit LHP are unrealistic to put it politely. In his current role as an everyday first baseman, Mitch Moreland WILL grow to be an albatross in the Rangers’ lineup. If utilized correctly in a platoon role, Moreland would effectively provide some marginal offensive value.

Mitch Moreland has exhibited exactly the kind of player he is. It is simply a matter of Ron Washington deterring from his gut and utilizing Moreland in the proper role.


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Tags: 2013 Cliff Lee First Base Justin Smoak Mitch Moreland Texas Rangers

  • Ben Dieter

    I couldn’t agree more. Mitch has proved over and over again he is a liability every time a lefty is on the mound. I think he would be a great platoon player with someone who can hit left handed pitching or a good trading tool when the time come.

    • Mike G.

      Ideally I’d prefer that Baker start at 1B every time there is a LHP on the mound, as Baker has notoriously had success against lefties, but then again, David Murphy is anemic against LHP as well, so it’s one or the other.

  • Andy

    I obviously don’t want to see him overused there, but I think Berkman should start at 1B on occasion when they’re facing LHP. Remember, if we make it to the World Series, we’ll have to play 4 games in an NL park, because the AL sucks on All-Star Day. So he can’t be rusty.

    Yes I’d like to see Baker start at 1B against LHP too, but of course, if Murphy continues to struggle too, like you said, that’s still a hole that needs fixing against LHP. Maybe sometimes Berkman at 1B and Baker in LF against LHP?

    • Mike G.

      I don’t know if Washington would employ this idea, but I definitely agree with it over Moreland AND Murphy against LHP on a regular basis. That said, I’d imagine that Jon Daniels and Co. are already evaluating external options for a right-handed bat to throw into the mix for LF/1B. Look for the Rangers to acquire such a player by the trade deadline. It’s just too bad that Mike Olt is struggling miserably in Triple-A right now because he’d be an ideal fit.

  • Retnavyac

    Is everyone is this town just plain dumb? I realize what the numbers say however Chris Davis had even lower numbers while trying to “earn” the “everday first baseman” moniker while with the Rangers. But all we could ever do was complain and look for thequick fix. So we send to the Texas Rangers east club (Baltimore), they make him feel welcome and he is now top five is most offensive catagories including batting average. Give Mitch your support and patience and trust in J.D., the man everyone said screwed up the off season, yet here we are in first.

    • Mike G.

      I trust in this front office, but I think the fact that Moreland is the everyday first baseman is due to the lack of available, difference making first basemen. Also, Chris Davis’ bat was much more highly touted than Moreland’s, just strikeouts were his problem and Davis truly needed a change of scenery. The trade to Baltimore may have saved Davis’ career. I wish Moreland the best success, but the fact of the matter is that Moreland has a track record of well-below average numbers against LHP, and that’s a problem, especially if Washington continues to play him on an everyday basis.