Big Year Ahead For Rangers First Basemen

To call 2011 a make or break year for Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis wouldn't technically be right. They aren't even arbitration eligible yet, so they can't really 'make it' the way prospective free agents can. But this season will undoubtedly be crucial to determining the future of the two first basemen and whether they stay in Arlington.

Davis arrived in the majors two years before Moreland as a highly-touted prospect. His .311/.370/.569 minor league line has yet to translate to the majors, however; the 24-year-old has hit just .248/.300/.459 as a major leaguer. Southpaws have held Davis to a .666 OPS, but he has shown power overall, hitting one homer per 20.7 at bats.

Moreland

Moreland (pictured), who's a year older than Davis, debuted last year and posted a .255/.364/.469 line in 173 plate appearances before posting a .900 OPS in the postseason. Like Davis, he's a left-handed hitter who struggles to hit southpaws (.604 OPS last year). He's the favorite to win the starting job and has impressed GM Jon Daniels, who told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that "our guys viewed him as one of the best workers and makeups [around]."

Neither player has any guarantees from the Rangers, who are in win-now mode and aren't in a position to be overly patient with developing players. Davis has drawn trade interest in the past, so the Rangers could consider dealing him if he doesn't produce more or becomes redundant. Moreland has done everything the Rangers have asked him to do, but he's just 224 plate appearances into his MLB career, even if you count the playoffs. Let's not assume that he can be a cog at first base.

Next year's free agent class features Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, two sluggers who figure to be looking for deals worth $180MM-plus. It's not hard to imagine Texas pursuing Fielder or Pujols next winter if the Rangers continue winning and the new ownership group decides its new TV deal allows for expanded payroll.

Even if the Rangers don't go after the most intriguing and expensive free agent first basemen, others, such as Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena, will be available (or the Rangers could opt to make Michael Young their everyday first baseman). Whether second tier first basemen like Lee and Pena appeal to the Rangers front office depends in large part on how Moreland and Davis perform over the course of the next six months.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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16 Comments on "Big Year Ahead For Rangers First Basemen"


4 years 5 months ago

they need to blindfold Davis and then tell him he’s taking the field for a AAA game…or something. i still don’t get why he can’t seem to produce in the show. i think ‘confidence’ or some other thing that the seamheads will use capslock and trolling to deny.

jwsox
4 years 5 months ago

pitching is different by which i mean much much harder

4 years 5 months ago

Chris Davis never had a good plate discipline in the minors. However, he still hit for a high average because he had a good contact rate against minor league pitchers. When he got to the majors, he was unable to adapt to major league pitching. He still had his awful plate discipline, but this time, he wasn’t able to hide it with a high contact rate. He has always looked lost at the plate.

notsureifsrs
4 years 5 months ago

“Chris Davis never had a good plate discipline in the minors.”

huh? i see a .395 OBP over almost 800 plate appearances, walk-rate a little over 10%

4 years 5 months ago

He also had ~25% K rate. Average BB/K for a player is 0.50. Davis never hit that number in the minors (He came close last year, but it was 0.30 in AA.) Obviously, his minor league numbers are less severe than his major league numbers, but the signs were there.

In the majors, the dude has a 30+% O-Swing value, while having a less than average O-Contact%. Higher than average Swinging Strike %, etc etc. I could probably keep going but I’m going to assume you get the point.

notsureifsrs
4 years 5 months ago

i do. but on the other side, a lot of young players have high k-rates in the minors – not a lot of them know how to take a walk – and 800 PAs is a significant sample at AAA. so while i’d definitely prefer to see his k-rate come down, i have a hard time characterizing him as a no-discipline guy.

even if his strikeouts stay high he can be a valuable guy at 1st or DH so long as he also takes his walks and can remember how to hit the ball with power. if either one of those things is missing, though, he’s just a big waste of potential

4 years 5 months ago

I’m not arguing with you that a lot of players go through the same thing. I’m just offering an underlying reason as to why Davis mashed it in the minors and couldn’t figure it out on a major league level: his ability to read minor league pitchers masked his poor discipline, and hasn’t been able to fix the latter.

A big waste of potential? You could say the same thing about most former prospects too.

notsureifsrs
4 years 5 months ago

and indeed i would

rangersvoice
4 years 5 months ago

In no way would I want any of the afore mentioned 1b free agents here. I’ll take either Moreland or Davis, which ever works out. The cost savings would mean we could sign a front line pitcher… Not to mention resign Cruz, Hammy, and Andrus etc.

bjsguess
4 years 5 months ago

Davis is very interesting. I wonder if he is a change of scenery candidate. Add him to the list along with Brandon Wood, Alex Gordan, etc of people who flashed star potential in the minors but have been disappoints to date in the majors.

jwsox
4 years 5 months ago

I honestly dont know why they dont just make young the 1st basemen so he will shut up. and trade moreland and/ or davis for a back up infielder. I give moreland about a month or two if he does not cut it then young will be the full time 1st basemen, or he will stay in the supersub/DH role(still getting full time 600+ at bats) and napoli will be the firstbasemen

ChrisV
4 years 5 months ago

Young is better suited as a utility guy/DH, with Young you are talking about a guy who is good defensively yes, but great? No, and to have him completely learn a new base and expect him to be better defensively than Moreland or Davis…just isn’t possible. Young can hit better right now, but is not better defensively at 1st. What needs to happen is Davis needs to breakout and hit like he is capable of, because when it comes to defense he I one of the best at 1st. The situation at 1st is better than it was last year. Napoli has done better in a role where he isn’t the #1 guy, believe me he will get plenty of at bats and playing time, but needs to be as a back up for 1B, DH, and C. He will come in handy a lot when a right handed bat is needed during a game. Btw, Young shut up when he reported to Surprise, AZ. Nothing else has been said by him, he is now his usual self ready to play some baseball.

4 years 5 months ago

Young isn’t even ‘good’ defensively, certainly not anything close to being great.

ChrisV
4 years 5 months ago

I agree, plus don’t need to forget about Davis’ defense!

crashcameron
4 years 5 months ago

if i was a team not going anywhere soon, i’d take a chance on Davis. maybe even try him back at third. how many teams could use a lefty bat at third? the Jays could.

neoncactus
4 years 5 months ago

I keep hoping Davis will pull it together. I love the guy’s defense and he can crush the ball when he does manage to hit it. Hopefully he’ll be able to figure out how to hit it more often.