Mitch Moreland is having his best season by far. With 66 RBIs, he has already surpassed his career best 60 RBIs from 2013, and there are still 39 games left. He’s just 18 hits away from his career best 120 in 2011, and already has the second-most HRs in a season at 18, just five away of his career best 23 in 2013, and just four doubles away of his best in 2013 as well. Batting .287, he’s never had a season where he has hit this high either, or slugged this high at .833.
Across the board, he is having the season everyone waited six years for.
It was an off day yesterday, and I stumbled across an article I wrote about Moreland two months ago, on the 11th of June, a day after his two clutch RBIs tied a game that Scheppers and the bullpen would eventually blow and lose. I thought I’d reprint it here in light of his two-RBI double that turned around the game on Sunday, a game the rebuilt bullpen held steady for a win.
THE ARRIVAL OF MITCH MORELAND.
Is there a bigger surprise on this surprising resurgent Rangers team than Mitch Moreland?
His walk up music is “haters gonna hate.” Appropriate. He has attracted more than his fair share of hate.
Maybe he was a victim of his early success.
He came up in the glorious 2010 season, when every memory viewed in the rear view mirror of time looks magical and golden.
He was a power hitting first baseman with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in just 47 games. He was one of the few offensive highlights in the World Series whose outcome didn’t really matter to Rangers fans because they were just happy to finally be there after all those years.
Maybe it’s not fair to Moreland to hold him to such a high standard based on that season where everything was roses and sunshine, but he never seemed to turn the corner.
His baseball fate has been so cruel that the year in which he had his best home run total, 25 in 2013, a fellow named Chris Davis—who just happened to be the guy Moreland replaced by going 6-for-13 in that 2010 World Series and made everyone think he was the first baseman of the future—decided he’d hit 53 home runs with 138 RBIs.
It didn’t help Moreland’s cause that he hit just .232 in the Year of Chris Davis.
Moreland couldn’t win. But basically, he couldn’t hit.
Maybe that’s because he spent the last four seasons mostly injured. At least that’s what Rangers fans were told. He became the poster boy of mediocre. A guy with a bum wrist, bum hamstring, bum hamstring on the other leg, and bum ankle in his last four seasons.
Mostly, it seems, Moreland became despised for committing the one unpardonable baseball sin in baseball: failing to live up to his promise.
Then this year started.
And a different Mitch Moreland has shown up. A confident, disciplined, productive Mitch Moreland.
Take away Prince Fielder, and the offensive star of this 2015 Texas Rangers team is Mitch Moreland. He has been an under-the-radar offensive machine.
Yes, Mitch Moreland.
He picked up two more clutch RBIs last night to give him 24 for the season. He’s been hitting over .300 for most of the season. (It’s a shame those RBIs proved to be not enough as the Rangers gloves and bullpen faltered in the end and Texas lost 5-4 to Oakland in a game they should have won.)
This year Moreland is hitting for average, hitting for power, driving in runs, keeping innings alive. And maybe most important of all, he is an anchor in the infield. It’s no coincidence that once he took over the full-time 1B gig, the Rangers infield defense turned around. (Ignoring last night.)
When the defense improves, the pitching improves. When the pitching improves, wins follow.
Is this the real Mitch Moreland? Who knows? The front office says it is. But they say that about everyone.
The different is, this the first time his productivity has lasted longer than a brief two-week spell before he disappeared into his typical long summer vacation.
Haters gonna hate. Moreland’s out to prove them all wrong.
Starting with me.
I have no problem admitting I was wrong. In cases like this, I like being wrong.
Let’s go, Mitch. Make me eat my words again.