An Offensive Threat?

Moreland
The offensive woes of the Rangers are becoming more and more problematic. As the season rolls on, the sample size grows larger, and we must consider the team for what they are. Prince, Beltre, and Elvis’s struggles are now well documented. They aren’t producing as Jon Daniels, Ron Washington, and Ranger fans all anticipated them doing this year. Combine that with the injury plague and the record should not be too surprising. However, not everyone has been disappointing. Shin Soo Choo, Alex Rios, Yu Darvish, and Joakim Soria are doing their part so far. As is the right-hander smashing Mitchell Austin Moreland. As I dive deeper into his season so far, we can see just what the lefty is doing.
First off, Mitch has been a part time platoon player who has just about faced right-handers exclusively. With Fielder manning first base full time, Mitch has been splitting DH duties with Michael Choice, and the results have been productive for what the two are being paid. Mitch has been given opportunities in the past to play full time, and it just hasn’t worked out.

He is not a good hitter against left-handed pitching and the numbers show it slashing .233/.295/.358 in his career off them with just 7 Homers and a wRC+ of 73 in 367 plate appearances. In 1,303 plate appearances against right handers, Mitch slashes .261/.325/.463 with 58 homers and a wRC+ of 106. He also strikes out less than 20 percent of the time as opposed to 23 percent against lefties.

With that in mind, it seems Wash and company have finally realized this and are keeping him to just face righties which he is doing very well so far in 2014. In 94 plate appearances against right handers this year, Mitch is slashing .299/.330/.460 with an above average wRC+ sitting at 111. He has been a bit fortunate to the tune of a .366 BABIP this year, but that could just be due to his career high line drive percentage and career low ground ball percent, which is at 29/37.5 percent respectively (17/43.2 percent last year).

So he is seeing the ball well and hammering it when he makes contact. I would like to see his walk rate go back up (sitting at only 5.5 percent) the rest of the way. If he can do that then we really have a productive part time player here. And if Wash ever needs a late mop-up pitcher in a blowout again, Mitch can certainly handle that job pretty well, too. I know we all enjoyed seeing him shatter Charlie Blackmon’s bat.

As we all know with Mitch, it’s about keeping him healthy and confident up at the plate. He could go into one of his frustrating lulls that drives us all crazy the rest of the year. Right now, he’s in a groove and doing his part to help the team score. All we can do is hope he continues this surprising productivity.

Austin Dietz
I'm just a local Dallas kid that enjoys baseball, craft beer, and using my best hitter second. I'm a co-host of the 20 Grade Podcast.

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