Mitch Moreland is ready to take on an everyday role

Robert Bouffard - Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of AP/Steven Senne

As soon as Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment, it became obvious that Mitch Moreland was about to see much more playing time.

In fact, part of the reason Ramirez was DFAd at all was to get more playing time for Moreland, who is having a great year. Moreland’s 1.046 OPS is third on the team behind Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez (though, he has about half as many at bats as those two), so naturally, manager Alex Cora would want to get him into the lineup as much as possible.

But the smaller sample size shouldn’t take away from what he’s been able to do. Moreland has started exactly half of the Red Sox’ games this season – 26 out of 52. In those games, he’s batting .320 with eight homeruns and 22 RBI. For perspective, Martinez has roughly doubled those numbers in about double the amount of at bats. Obviously, Mitch Moreland is not J.D. Martinez, but those numbers are still encouraging.

Sticking Moreland in the starting lineup over Ramirez should yield immediate results. In May, Ramirez was slashing .163/.200/.300, while Moreland is slashing .333/.418/.729. Even with the smaller sample size, it’s obvious who should really be in there and that the Red Sox made the right baseball choice. To put the icing on the cake, Moreland is great defensively - he won a Gold Glove in 2016 with Texas.

Moreland’s presence in the lineup as a regular is already being felt. In yesterday’s 8-6 win over Atlanta, he went 2-5 with a double, a triple, and two RBI from the cleanup spot. His triple was only his fourth of his career and his first since 2014. But he hit it to the most perfect spot in Fenway to hit a triple, as if he was trying to show management they made the right choice.

The Red Sox have Brock Holt (17 career games at first base), Blake Swihart (one career game at first base), and Eduardo Nunez (zero career games at first base) on the roster as options at first. Though Swihart and Nunez have both worked out at first base since Ramirez was DFAd, Moreland is the only one on the roster with real experience at the position. So without another natural first baseman on the roster, Moreland figures to get the majority of the starts there going forward.

Theoretically, the Red Sox could go after another first baseman, but they really don’t need to. After all, most of Moreland’s numbers are well higher than his career averages. But this is a guy who regularly hits over 20 homers and plays great defense. And they don’t even need him to carry the team. They need him to give consistent production, which he is more than capable of doing.

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