Spring Training Preview: First base


Oct 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Texas Rangers Detroit Tigers first baseman

Prince Fielder

(28) throws to first base against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning in game five of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers are getting closer to the start of spring training.  It is now time to review the various positions and see what we can expect this year.

In this preview edition, we’ll cover first base.

In 2013, Mitch Moreland was the primary first baseman for the Texas Rangers.  To everyone’s surprise, Jon Daniels made a blockbuster trade sending Ian Kinlser to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder.  Fielder brings something to first base that they haven’t had since the departure of Mark Teixeira.   Mark Teixeira was a rising star at first base.  He was one who could hit for power and play the position very well.  Granted, Fielder may not have the same skills playing first base, Fielder does have the power at the plate, maybe more.

With that trade, it would seem that Mitch Moreland has been downgraded to basically a utility man instead of a first baseman.  The power hitter Prince Fielder will now be taking over Moreland’s duties.

It’s pretty apparent with Fielder, the Texas Rangers have made and upgrade.  In 2013, the first baseman for the Texas Rangers didn’t post very good numbers.  It didn’t help Mitch Moreland was injured and didn’t return to form in the second half either.  As a team at first base, the Texas Rangers had a batting average of .223, 25 home runs and 65 RBI.

If you compare that to what Prince Fielder did, during what was called an off year, that a drastic improvement.   Fielder in 2013 had a batting average of .279/.362/.457/.819 with 36 doubles and 25 home runs.

Looking forward, it would seem the Texas Rangers have made a huge upgrade at first base.  I think and hope that Prince Fielder will be able to hold down first base and to use his power at the plate to deliver offense that will win games.   Hopefully, Fielder will be making a lot of new friends in the home run porch area in right-field next season.  During the Prince Fielder press conference Ron Washington stated that he will be batting third.  That should be a pretty powerful top half of the order for pitchers to contend with. 

Andro stats seem to support Ron Washington‘s desire to put him in the 3 hole.  If nothing else, Prince Fielder can get on base.  If you remember last September, that was one thing that absolutely killed the Texas Rangers.

If defense becomes and issue with Fielder, as I’ve said before, maybe a better option would be to have Mitch Moreland play first base and let Prince Fielder DH instead.  But this could be a little tough for Ron Washington to do.  One, it could mess up the game for Prince Fielder.  Some players tend to bat better if they are in the game full-time instead of at the DH.  Mitch Moreland has already said he’ll play where ever the team needs him.

"“I’m just going to try to go out and prepare for anything and everything,” Moreland said. “I’ll work at those spots when they tell me at spring training and prepare myself as best I can and be ready for the season.” (Richard Durrett – ESPNDallas.com)"

In either case, I’m sure we’ll see Mitch Moreland at first base some.  Over the past few years, Prince Fielder has put in a lot of playing time.  With his age and body, it would be best if the Texas Rangers gave him some days off or playing at DH to avoid injuries in the years to come.  They gave up a lot and invested too much to watch him be sidelined with something.

Overall, this should be one of the most exciting things to watch next season.  Prince Fielder should be setting off fireworks and entertaining the crowd next season.  Hopefully all of the talent he brings will turn into some W’s for the Texas Rangers.

My prediction

Prince Fielder will get most of the starts at first base, and probably play in 158 games.  Which is still less than previous years, I think Ron Washington will rest one of his biggest assets as much as he can.  Prince Fielder will finish the season as the team home run leader, edging out Adrian Beltre with 34 and have a batting average around .295 maybe finish the season over .300.  I would also expect Fielder to break the 100 RBI mark also next season.  If that all happens and assuming he doesn’t have many errors at first base, this will be best year for a Texas Rangers first baseman since Mark Teixeira.