December is here and Christmas is only 25 days away. Over the next 25 days I’m going to feature a different Texas Rangers player. I’m going to discuss how their 2015 season and some thoughts about 2016.
I’m not going to go in any particular order, but I will save some of the best for last. Today, I’m going to start with first baseman Mitch Moreland.
The 2015 season was a bounce back season for Mitch Moreland. Like several other players Moreland also suffered injuries during the 2014 season. During the beginning of the season it looked like he was going to be a repeat of 2014. He started having issues with his elbow during spring training and some during the regular season. He landed on the 15-day disabled list which allowed Kyle Blanks to be called up. Luckily that was the only time he spent on the disabled list during the 2015 season.
But, Moreland was determined to bounce back and prove his value. The Texas Rangers only paid Moreland $2.95 million during the 2015 season, which ended up being a huge bargain. He’s eligible for arbitration again this season and I’d guess he’ll get a nice pay raise. During the 2015 season he batted .278/.330/.482/.812 with 27 doubles, 23 home runs, and 85 RBI. Overall, he had the 3rd best batting average, most home runs, and second most RBI on the Rangers.
Early on in the season he gained the praise of Prince Fielder who basically admitted the team is better with Moreland at first base.
"“I work hard at first,” Fielder said. “But if we’re better with [Moreland] out there, I’m not too proud to say that. It helps him stay in the game and it helps us win. I just want us to win. We’re a better team with him out there. He plays great defense.“I don’t care what anybody sees me as,” he added. “I’m at a point in my career where I want to be a good team player and be real with myself. Mitch is a lot better at [defense]. I’ve told him that and I’ve told Banny [manager Jeff Banister]. It’s not that I don’t want to play the position; I do. I just want to win. I think that’s part of maturity and growing up.” – Evan Grant (Dallas News)"
Overall, Moreland was a decent first baseman with a defensive WAR of -0.5. His offense was very good this season posting a 2.0 offensive WAR. This was a huge step up considering he posted a -0.3 last year. In his best season he posted a 0.8. Also, his 23 home runs was tied for a career best and his 85 RBI was way higher than is 60 career best in 2013.
So what about the 2016 season? I think Mitch Moreland will start at first base again and will continue to improve his skills. He spent the 2014 season bouncing around the first base, designated hitter, and the outfield because there was barely room and need for him on the roster. Now that Prince Fielder is primarily the DH and he’s endorsed Moreland for the first base position I don’t see anything changing there.
I think Moreland will build on what he did with is bat. I hope he brings more power behind the plate to hit more home runs and collect 85 or more RBI. He had an outstanding season in 2015 and I’m excited to see what he can do during the 2016 season.