Let’s Talk About Mitch Moreland’s Hot Streak
It’d be nice if we could leave it at that.
Somewhere along the way, I’m not sure when or who or how, but an underlying narrative was attached to Moreland among Rangers fans. It’s an ongoing debate to determine just what Moreland is, with opinions ranging from a platoon-only first baseman, to a consistent run producer capable of hitting in the meat of a batting order.
We have already seen both sides of the debate engage in confirmation bias in favor of their opinion this year. Moreland’s first 57 plate appearances on the season suggest he’s not an everyday first baseman. His following 82 plate appearances say just the opposite.
So what new information has the first part of Moreland’s season actually given us? Well, nothing, really.
At almost this exact same time last year, Moreland went on a similar hot streak, as you can see:
It is important to point out, however, that Moreland has been unexpectedly successful against left-handed pitchers during his current hot streak, a feat he did not accomplish during his 2012 rampage or at any other point of his career. See his spray charts from last year’s peak performance and this year’s against lefties:
But we must take caution that Moreland has still only had 61 plate appearances against left-handers this season. That is too small a sample size to conclude that he has all-of-a-sudden figured out how to hit southpaws, who he has struggled mightily against for his entire career. Here is this year’s performance against lefties, compared to his career totals:
What Moreland has been able to do so far this year has been really great, and really fun to watch. But this is a caution to avoid taking this small sample of what will likely be his best stretch of hitting this season, and project that Moreland is now more than what he has been to this point in his career.
There is nothing wrong with who Mitch Moreland has been, and likely will continue to be. He is a league average first baseman and he makes sense for the Rangers, based on their current roster construction. It’s a luxury that they don’t have to spend free agency dollars to fill the first base position. They get enough surplus offense from other positions on the field that they don’t need an All-Star first baseman. It’s a good fit, for now.
I still think that Moreland will be a liability against left-handed pitching in the future, and that putting him in a platoon situation would actually increase his value. My idea of who Mitch Moreland is hasn’t changed based on what has happened so far in 2013. It shouldn’t have changed for you, either.
The greatest message I can leave you with is to enjoy it when Moreland gets hot like he is now, and in general, enjoy baseball. Debates and narratives are useful and constructive to a point, but they should never get in the way of enjoying the great game, however you choose to do so.