Surprise position outlook: First base
First base is usually a position of power and strength for teams. It wasn't for the Rangers in 2012. While the .251 batting average from the position was actually middle of the pack (eighth) and better than two other AL playoff teams (Baltimore and Oakland), the power numbers suffered. Texas had 20 homers from the first base position last season. The only team worse than Texas in that category was Tampa Bay with 19. The Rangers got 70 RBIs from first base, third-fewest in the AL.
Mitch Moreland accounted for much of that production. He had 15 homers, 50 RBIs and hit .275 in games in which he played first. But the Rangers had a gaggle of folks play the position. Michael Young had 163 at-bats at first, Brandon Snyder had 65, and Mike Olt added another 33. Young is now in Philadelphia and Snyder was re-signed to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday that the plan is for Moreland to start the season at first base. It's likely that Jurickson Profar starts in the minors.
Since the club traded Mark Teixeira at the deadline in 2007 (a deal that netted Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz), the team hasn't really had a power-hitting first baseman. Moreland made progress in 2012, posting his career-high in batting average and continuing to improve defensively.
Moreland is 27 years old. It's time to show something. He knows it, too. Daniels said Monday that Moreland has hired a left-handed batting practice pitcher this offseason and has been working on hitting against left-handers. Moreland is hitting just .232 in his career against lefties.
"We believe in Mitch Moreland," Daniels said.
Moreland must reward that belief with more consistent play as the 2013 season begins.
How do you think Moreland will do this season?
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