Our top dog Ray broke down the Rangers and their resurgent play in the Roto Roundup. And he was absolutely right. Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo are heating up at the plate, and both are a big part of why Texas is currently surging. But my hometown homeboy Mitch Moreland has been a part of that resurgence as well.
I don't blame Ray for leaving Mitch off the docket. Moreland isn't a huge name in the fake sports world. But he has had his moments of usefulness, and I probably pay more attention to those moments than the rest of you. I was not close friends with Mitch when we shared the same hometown of Amory, Mississippi. He was about three years younger than me, so we didn't really have the opportunity. But when someone from your hometown goes pro, you flipping root for them, man.
And so, every year in my hometown drafts Mitch is a hot commodity. My friends and I are generally willing to pay a couple of extra bucks or to draft him a round or two earlier than the average degenerate. And I wouldn't call it insider info--especially since you can look up his statistics for free--but when Mitch is healthy he can play some baseball. Against right-handed pitchers he can be dangerous. Allow me to share some propaganda.
The Rangers typically employ the left-handed Moreland against right-handed pitchers, as Mitch only has 402 career plate appearances versus southpaws. Against them he is hitting .233/.296/.350 with a .646 OPS and a .117 ISO. So yeah, Mitch is generally regarded as a platoon guy. Though I would also humbly submit that 400 PAs is not much, as it takes about 550 PAs for ISO to become predictive of future ISO. Likewise, it takes about 500 PAs for OBP to be a good predictor of future OBP. 400 is obviously close to 500, but hopefully you get the idea. There could theoretically be room for Mitch to grow a little against southpaws.
At any rate, Mitch is obviously the strong side of any platoon as the left-handed hitter. His career slash versus right-handed pitchers is a more impressive .262/.326/.459 with a .785 OPS and a .198 ISO. Those are decent marks in batting average and on-base percentage, and above average in the power categories. League average marks for OPS and ISO in 2014 were .700 and .135, respectively. Mitch is a notch above each of those marks.
He gets another boost at home. Not in Mississippi, but in Arlington, Texas. Globe Life Park has been a boon to Moreland's hitting over the years. His career slash at home against a right-handed pitcher is .270/.341/.473 with an .814 OPS and a .203 ISO. That is a really solid line, people. For comparison's sake, Adam LaRoche is another left-handed hitter and boasts a .271/.354/.487 career line with an .841 OPS and a .216 ISO (against right-handed pitchers). So yeah, LaRoche in his prime was a tad more powerful than the Globe Life version of Moreland. He also drew a few more walks. But Mitch is still squarely in his prime at only 29 years old, while LaRoche is on the other side of the hill at age 35.
The point is, when Moreland is at home in Arlington he is an unheralded source of average, OBP, and power. And heck, when he is on the road against a right-handed guy, he lets you break even in average and OBP and has above average power. The platoon and the missed time due to injuries have been a good smokescreen throughout his career. Moreland remains largely undrafted in most formats while LaRoche is always someone's trendy pick for the Top 12-15 at the first base position. Just the fact that they are comparable in some way should be illuminating.
And let us remember that not all away parks are created equal. Why, just this past Friday night I dialed up my hometown homeboy against Michael Pineda in the MLB Grand Slam on FanDuel. Moreland had the L/R match-up working in his favor as well as the short right field porch of Yankee Stadium. For a mere 2.3K in salary, I enjoyed my Moreland bomb and the ensuing 8.50 points. He is obviously a tournament sort of play, but against a right-handed pitcher in a good park he is a legitimate option in the outfield.
Now for 2015. Mitch is sitting on a .343 BABIP, which we all know is going to decrease. He probably isn't going to have a batting average north of .300 for the course of a full season, either. But as a fan of his game, I humbly submit to the masses that he is worth a look if you need power. He only managed 114 games in 2012, a year when he hit 15 dingers. In 2013, he smoked 23 home runs in a career-high 147 games, but was a bit unlucky with a career-low .255 BABIP. His batting average reflected this, as his .232 mark was also a career-low. So far in 2015 he has four home runs in 103 plate appearances. If he can somehow manage 550 PAs you could be looking at 20 home runs and tolerable average and OBP numbers, as well as career-highs in runs and RBIs.
In summation, I personally believe that Mitch (when healthy) is a .260/.320./.435 type of player. One that is on the strong side of a platoon for the surging Texas Rangers. Who will most likely bat 5th against any opposing right-hander. Who calls Arlington, a hitter's haven, his home park. And who is ridiculously low-owned across the major sites. He is a paltry 3% owned on Yahoo! sites, so that means all the Rangers fans and the Amory Panthers are onto his game. If you are in a deep league or looking for a cheap power-play in your next DFS tournament, I suggest you look Mitch's way. Just make sure it is a right-hander on the hill for the opposing team and you'll be fine.