There will not be any competition for the Ranger’s starting 1st baseman’s job this spring: it belongs to Mitch Moreland. Ron Washington, along with GM Jon Daniels, has said that Moreland will be given “every chance” to be their everyday first baseman.
Moreland was often overlooked in 2010, probably because he was in a lineup that included the likes of more popular and higher-earning players such as Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Vladimir Guerrero. Moreland doesn’t mind not being in the spotlight, though, and is happy to have the opportunity to play everyday in 2011.
The Mississippi State graduate hit .255 last season with nine HR and 25 RBI in 145 AB. The Rangers obviously had tons of offensive production from other positions on the field, so the lack of “typical” 1st base numbers were overshadowed in 2010. Moreland struck out 36 times and walked 25 times in 47 games a year ago, two numbers the Rangers would like to see swap in 2011.
The reason the team is optimistic for their 1st baseman in 2011 is because he hit .348 in the 2010 postseason, and was 6-for-13 in the World Series against the Giants stellar pitching.
“It was a big confidence builder,” Moreland told MLB.com. “It set the mood for my offseason.”
Should Michael Young still be on the Rangers roster come Opening Day, he will play games at the position as well. How much he will play is about as clear as whether or not he will even be on the team: not very.
Bottom line: Texas needs more production from Mitch Moreland in 2011. And while they would obviously like to see more power out of Moreland, the Rangers realize it’s not a necessity that needs to be pushed, because of power numbers from Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz.
Is Mitch Moreland the 1st baseman of the future for the Texas Rangers? Most likely, his 2011 season will tell.