Of Mice and First Basemen


It is fair to say that First Base has been a position of weakness for the Rangers ever since trading Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves in 2007. Since then, the Rangers have employed the likes of Chris Davis, Justin Smoak, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ben Broussard, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and Mitch Moreland at the position, without finding an every-day regular to yield suitable production at a first baseman’s level.

From 2008 to 2012, the Rangers have only accumulated 4.9 WAR and a wRC+ of 95 from 1B, as compared to the Rays who have accumulated 10.9 WAR and a wRC+ of 113 from the position during that same span (the Rays were selected for this comparison because the Rays rank in the middle of the pack in terms of production from the first base position).  As you may have guessed, the St. Louis Cardinals, who were greatly benefited from the glory days of Albert Pujols, led all of MLB in WAR from first base from 2008 to 2012, with 34.9 and a wRC+ of 150.

Looking forward to 2013, possible Rangers first basemen are Mitch Moreland, Mike Olt and Ian Kinsler (there has been talk of the Rangers moving Kinsler to 1B in order to make space for super prospect, Jurickson Profar, to take over at 2B—this is not a move I would support, as both Profar and Kinsler would provide more production for the Rangers while playing from their original positions, SS and 2B. This of course implies the Rangers trading Elvis Andrus).

In order to maximize offensive production from 1B, 2B and SS in 2013 by solely utilizing internal options, the Rangers would have to employ a 1B platoon of Mitch Moreland/Mike Olt. For his career against RHPs, Moreland boasts a triple slash line of .281/.328/.470. And for his minor league career against LHPs, Mike Olt owns a triple slash line of .280/.416/.608. This of course would not be a permanent solution, but it would prove to be the most viable temporary option in terms of expected offensive production from 1B, and it would also negate the offensive subtractions from the domino affects of Kinsler moving to 1B. Also, in 2013, Olt would hypothetically serve as a back-up to not only 1B, but also 3B, DH, and the COF positions, which maximizes his value to the club.

August 11, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pinch hitter Mike Olt (center) celebrates his walk off single with shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) and designated hitter Ian Kinsler (rear) against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers beat the Tigers 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This of course all hinges on the Rangers trading Elvis Andrus, which the Rangers appear to be hesitant to do. The Rangers may indeed just move Kinsler to 1B, Profar to 2B with Andrus staying at SS, but this would limit Profar’s and Kinsler’s production and value to the team. Not to mention the five-year, $75 million contract extension that Kinsler signed with the Rangers during the 2012 season, which at the time seemed to indicate that Andrus’ time in Texas was coming to an inevitable end, more than likely in the form of a trade.

2013 is a year with more questions than Rangers fans have grown accustomed to during the team’s illustrious run of dominance, but as Rangers fans have also gotten used to, 1B is still a position of need.