Originally posted on The Platoon Advantage  |  Last updated 8/29/13
Mitch Moreland hit his 20th home run of the season this week. Which saddens me a little. And no, I'm very happy for Moreland, but sad for myself, sad for Mitch Moreland becoming yet another faceless, formless 20+ HR first baseman.  There is something beautiful in the spectacularly average, something that's very compelling about watching a professional baseball player getting paid to compete, perhaps finding some success, but never quite measuring up. And none of that is supposed to be an insult, by the way. Players like Mitch Moreland, just by reaching the Major Leagues, or, hell, any affiliated ball, have already won the genetic lottery and gone to the gym more times by the time they're twenty than I will my entire life. They are the athletic ideal of the American dream, manifesting their own destiny when given the smallest of opportunities. That is Mitch Moreland.  Drafted in the 17th round of the 2007 draft (only 14.4% of players drafted after the tenth round ever make it to the majors), but as a pitcher, not a first baseman. After developing persuasive argument skills through numerous hours of Perry Mason reruns, Moreland convinced the Rangers staff that he could hit and so they let him, assuming he'd flame out like so many other prospects who don't know a damned thing about baseball.  Except he didn't crash and burn, he kept hitting. His career minor league line is .314/.382/.512. And though scouts were unsure about his tools, at a listed 6'2", 240 lbs, he looked every bit the part of a big, lumbering massively powerful first baseman. But since Moreland has reached the Major Leagues, his numbers have taken a considerable dip, either proving that scouts are pretty damn smart or that big league pitching is just as difficult as people say. Not that he's been bad, just that Moreland has been an anomaly, a thoroughly average first baseman for a good ball club.  His OPS+ over the last three years: 93, 106, 104. His career OPS is 102. For comparison's sake, the average major league first baseman this year has a .772 OPS and a 115 OPS+. And that includes players like Greg Dobbs who, for some earthly reason, collected over 200 PA for the Marlins. He has never reached 1.0 fWAR during a season (though he's coming close this year, currently at 0.8). But that's why Moreland hitting 20 home runs saddens me. Sure, his .246/.305/.463 line looks every bit the all-or-nothing, beefy first baseman that I want to see, but there was something very special about him. Something so seemingly unique about a player like this batting in the Rangers lineup, one that has twice gone to the World Series with Mitch Moreland installed as their first baseman. How many teams can claim to regularly bat their first baseman eighth in the lineup and be fighting for a division title? Without bothering to do the research, I'm going to say very few.   Since 1990, only 37 first basemen had hit less than 20 home runs in their career at least three times when given at least 350 PA. While players like like Mark Grace and, shockingly (to me), Will Clark (who hit .303/.390/.469 between 1992 and 1997 without ever topping 20 HR in a season), there are also a number of "Your father played baseball? Did you say Todd Benzunguner? Benzinburner? Oh, Todd Benzinger? Never heard of him."  But shift the research and look at players who accomplished the feat at the start of their career, and you'll find only 10. Sure, Mark Grace still shows up on the list, but Mitch Moreland would also have joined the Darin Erstads, Sean Caseys, and Orlando Merceds of the world. You know, the kind of company every ballplayer wants to keep. The one that Mitch Moreland now thinks himself too good for.  So yes, I'm happy for Mitch Moreland. But I'll have to turn my attention elsewhere for a successful first baseman without the ability to hit home runs. And no, Justin Smoak is not an option. I said successful first baseman. 
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Was firing Jeff Hornacek the wrong move for the Suns?

Panthers picked wrong day to play worst game of the season

Was Peyton Manning paid for Budweiser mentions?

Cam Newton walks out of postgame press conference

Eli did not look thrilled after Peyton locked up Super Bowl

Rick Reilly sends awkward tweet during Super Bowl 50

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Peyton Manning gives Papa John a kiss after game

Panthers' Josh Norman crying after losing Super Bowl

Peyton Manning ‘going to drink a lot of Budweiser’ after win

Where Peyton Manning ranks among Super Bowl era QBs

Peyton Manning declines to comment on possible retirement

Mike Carey not heard from again after being wrong earlier

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Aqib Talib wipes out on NFL Network

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Five biggest boneheaded plays of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Cam Newton gives questionable effort to recover fumble

Lions say Calvin Johnson's future still not determined

How Louisville basketball bungled their self-imposed ban

Ted Ginn Jr. whiffs on football twice on one play, results in Panthers turnover

Kony Ealy makes one-handed interception of Peyton Manning

Mike Carey gets another call wrong on incomplete pass in SB

Steph Curry beats Panthers' "Keep Pounding" drum

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

WATCH: Panthers' Jonathan Stewart leaps over pile for TD

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker