Red Sox: Mitch Moreland providing power for stagnant offense
The Boston Red Sox aren’t crushing home runs as often as they usually do, and they sit in the middle of the pack in runs scored because of it. Yet even as the offense struggles, Mitch Moreland has provided stable production in the middle of the order.
While he probably can’t mimic Ortiz’s colorful personality, Mitch Moreland has done his best to recreate Ortiz’s presence in the lineup. For a team that has underperformed offensively, he’s done a pretty good job so far.
The first baseman socked a home run in his third straight game Monday against Minnesota – his sixth this month – to help Boston claim the victory, pushing the Sox atop the AL East. While he’s had some rough stretches over the year, he’s still been a very consistent addition to the club, hitting at least .273 in April, May and June.
He was never slated to be a top-tier first baseman during his seven-year stint with the Rangers. He’s never hit well for average, sporting a career .256 mark. Yet he has always possessed 20-plus home run power, reaching the mark in four of his seven big-league seasons.
Now, at 31 years old, he may have found his niche at Fenway Park.
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Moreland has been steady while anchored in the middle of the lineup, boasting a team-high 12 homers and 41 RBI. He started the season on a doubles spree, drilling 12 in April alone. He’s slowed down in that department, but he’s still posted a solid .490 slugging percentage and .853 OPS overall – both career highs.
The former Mississippi State player has also flashed his leather often at his corner position. Moreland’s fielding ability – he earned a Gold Glove in 2016 – adds to the team’s defensive prowess. Surely manager John Farrell feels more comfortable having Moreland handle first over someone like Hanley Ramirez.
Boston isn’t the same without Ortiz, that is inarguable. The Red Sox great pieced together an outstanding final season to his career, hitting .315 with 38 bombs and an absurd 1.021 OPS.
Ortiz’s former club hasn’t provided its fans with a daily dose of fireworks that his past teams have. This year’s squad ranks 27th in home runs, 24th in slugging percentage and 16th in runs scored overall, despite leading the AL East race.
Maybe Moreland’s power surge can spark the discouraging offense. As the AL East race – and possibly Wild Card battle – heats up over the summer, Boston will need as many hot bats as it can get.
Moreland can do what he’s done all year, but to compete with the Yankees’ Baby Bombers and other formidable offenses, he will need some help.