Moreland quietly roaring ahead
Credit: Getty Images
Mitch Moreland may not be in Josh Hamilton's class, but he doesn't need to be (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images).
WFAA Sports Blogger
Posted on May 27, 2012 at 10:06 AM
Sunday, May 27 at 1:14 PM
The Texas Rangers are a team of newsmakers. When you've got Josh Hamilton hitting four home runs in a games, Nelson Cruz racking up eight RBIs, the entire left side of the infield flashing leather at every opportunity, and the Yu Darvish media circus it's hard to not be pushed into the limelight. Through it all, however, one Ranger from humble rootssustains the almost anonymous performance that on any other team might be drawing more attention.
Mitch Moreland, the main first baseman in the three man platoon Ron Washington employs at the position, has not hit four home runs in a game. Not has he driven in eight runners in a game, nor did he cost over $50 million dollars to import from Japan. He's just a baseball player from Amory, Mississippi, and a pretty good one at that.
Coming into Sunday's contest against Toronto, Moreland had hit eight home runs (3rd on the team) and generated 18 RBIs on the season. That's good for a slash line of .309/.364/.582. That OPS would rank 5th
among all major-league first baseman if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
It's not just Moreland's offensive performance that is overshadowed by his teammates, it's also his defensive prowess. The Rangers defensive wizardy is normally personified by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, and Josh Hamilton. The fourth member of the infield isn't too shabby himself however.
It's a small sample, but Moreland's defensive work has impressed so far. Mitch has started 23 games at first base thus far, and in 196 defensive changes Moreland has zero errors. He's helped turn 20 double plays and has a fielding percentage of 1.000%. In limited time, his UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) has crept into the positive range.
To simplify the numbers, when Moreland is called upon he does his job. It's not highlight reel material, but it doesn't need to be when he's surrounded by a cavalcade of web gem contenders.
When you look at the Rangers as presently constructed, it really illustrates the value of Mitch Moreland. He's not a superstar; others handle that for him. He's not even a guy who will hit high in the Texas lineup, as shown by Saturday's contest, in which he hit ninth.
No, Moreland is not and more than likely never will be a superstar like Hamilton and company. He is, however, exactly what this team needs. It's fairly apt that a player from a small town in Mississippi that most people couldn't find on a map is also a guy most people couldn't pick out of the Rangers power-packed lineup. To paraphrase his manager, that's just the way Mitch Moreland go.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.