Whether you are reading criticisms on Twitter or listening to comments from fans on the Rangers Insider postgame show, there seems to be doubt about the production of Mitch Moreland at the plate. He did produce a 5-for-16 (.313) homestand, and his hitting coach spoke optimistically about the first baseman this weekend.
“Mitch is coming around. I just think he needs some consistent at-bats where, you know, he’s going to get in their regularly, get his timing back,” Scott Coolbaugh said. “He started off a little slow at the beginning of the year and then he had some things going on. He had to come back to Dallas with his [abscessed] tooth. I think it kind of caught him in between a little bit. Lost his timing there for a little while. That’s tough for a young hitter.”
Coolbaugh was a guest on Rangers Magazine (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM) on Saturday morning. This was before Moreland had a couple of hits later that night against the Tampa Bay Rays. Moreland has a couple of home runs and just five RBIs in 16 games played this season. The left-handed hitting Moreland likely will be in the lineup Monday and Tuesday nights because Toronto is scheduled to start right-handed pitchers.
“I see big things happening for Mitch. He’s going to have a good year. He’s going to have a good, solid year this year,” Coolbaugh said. “He’s definitely a threat at the bottom of the order because he can put a good at-bat together, make a pitcher work. He also has that threat, obviously, to hit a home run.”
When it comes to those good at-bats, according to FanGraphs.com, Moreland is making contact with 90.8% of the pitches he swings at that are in the strike zone (Z-Contact%). That’s a better percentage than Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, David Murphy and Nelson Cruz. He only swings at 27.6% of the pitches out of the strike zone (O-Swing%). In that category, Cruz, Napoli, Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler have better percentages.
It’s fun to crunch the numbers, but it’s also enjoyable to listen to Coolbaugh talk about Hamilton, Napoli, being in “a good place,” the low-maintenance Ranger hitters, and working with the Rangers throughout spring training and from the start of the regular season for the first time. Listen to the podcast.