The Curious Case Of Mitchell Moreland
Any hitting coach/baseball coach will tell you that in order to improve you must have reps. There isn’t a formula or stat that can help a left-handed hitter see a pitch better out of a lefties hand, but getting consistent reps and knowing you are going to be in the lineup everyday helps. Mitch Moreland, since 2010 has had 1042 plate appearances, which ranks 19th among American League first baseman. He has 134 more appearances than Chris Davis of the Orioles and nearly 1,000 fewer than Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers. Mike Napoli during the same time period collected 1359 plate appearances, ranking him 9th. I’m okay with these numbers because of the way this roster was put together, it gave Wash a chance to be flexible and use Napoli and Young at first base. Putting Napoli there allowed Wash to increase the power numbers at that position while not losing much defensively. With those options now gone, what is in store for 2013?
One of the most intriguing storylines heading into the 2013 season is how Ron Washington will handle this new lineup. Will he revert back to 2010 and put his foot back on the accelerator and run the bags more often and aggressively? How will he handle not having three guys who can play first, one of the most vaunted lineups in recent history, and not having his veteran go-to utility guy at his disposal? Wash may not have a choice but to plug Mitch into the lineup on an everyday basis this year and find out what his young Mississippian can do. The rumors of moving Ian Kinsler to first have been surfacing throughout the off-season, but that move and his potential move to the outfield all depends on who the Rangers sign before this off-season is over. Bringing in a Jason Kubel or Giancarlo Stanton solidifies the outfield and could give Wash more flexibility with Kinsler and Moreland at 1B, while breaking in Profar at second. Those questions will be answered in the coming weeks as the hot stove season cools off, but until they are the Mitch Moreland conundrum will remain. The needs at other positions may outweigh the need to improve first base this year, so if Mitch gets the opportunity that Evan Grant mentioned this will be his chance to show himself and his manager that he can be that everyday player he certainly wants to be. Moreland is under team control through 2016 and should remain relatively cheap and affordable during his arbitration years. When you combine that with the fiscal philosophy of this front office, giving Moreland more at bats this year to find out if he can be an affordable option there makes a lot of sense.
Jeff Johnson is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Jeff.Johnson@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @Houstonhog