We continue our run through the Rangers positional outlooks heading into the World Series with first base.
Like catcher, offensive production at first base was minimal during the regular season. The Rangers started with Chris Davis, but he couldn't find his offensive rhythm and was sent down before April was over. Justin Smoak then took over and went through the typical growing pains of a first-time major league player. He was, of course, traded to the Mariners as the centerpiece of the Cliff Lee deal.
That left things to Mitch Moreland and veteran Jorge Cantu, acquired at the trade deadline. Moreland, selected in the 17th round of the 2007 draft by the Rangers, has emerged at the position in the postseason.
The plan when the ALDS began in Tampa was for Moreland, a left-handed hitter, to play against right-handed pitchers and Cantu, a right-handed hitting veteran, to play against lefties.
But Cantu has hit just 0-for-7 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Moreland is .303 (10-for-33) with three doubles and four RBIs. He earned the start against left-hander David Price in Game 5 of the ALDS and started all six games in the ALCS.
Moreland has seized the job, not only for the World Series, but will head to spring training as the probable 2011 starter. He's performed well on the big stage and there's no reason not to expect the same in the World Series.