ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Rafael Furcal #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals is thrown out at first as Mitch Moreland #18 of the Texas Rangers makes the play in the eighth inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
In what will be a daily post, we'll talk about the upcoming season for the Texas Rangers and where guys fit in on the roster. It's almost baseball time!
After his breakout half-season in 2010 and his performance in the 2010 World Series when he was the only bat to show up against the San Francisco Giants, Mitch Moreland seemed to have a firm grip on the first base position in Arlington.
His promise pushed Triple-A phenom Chris Davis out of a job. Not only that, but Davis was traded at the deadline in 2011, which signaled the Rangers' huge amount of trust in the left-handed hitting Moreland. It was at about that time that Moreland's numbers began trending downward, and in a hurry.
Moreland hit .230 in July and then dipped down to .167 for the month of September to finish the 2011 season with a .259 average, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. All of those numbers were disappointments for Moreland after the numbers he posted in limited work in 2010.
We've since learned the decline can probably be attributed to a wrist injury that required off-season surgery, and we've once again listened as the Rangers have put full faith in Moreland as the team's first baseman after they declined to get too crazy with a potential contract for free agent slugger Prince Fielder.
If Moreland's wrist isn't healthy or if the struggles carry over from last season, the Rangers will have options at first base, starting with Michael Young. Young proved last season that the team's super utility role they created for him can work. Conor Jackson got a minor league deal recently and will join the team at spring training after a disappointing 2011 season of his own. Then, of course, there's the Mike Napoli option though his second half of last season pretty much solidified the fact that Napoli will be the team's everyday catcher.
Moreland still has work to do defensively at first, as he's a natural outfielder. But he has the potential to improve there, much moreso than Young or Napoli. Once again, the Rangers have shown Moreland plenty of love heading into the season, it's just up to him now to make them look smart.