I’ve been Mitch Moreland’s biggest fan since he joined the team last year. Search my tweets, you know it to be true.
And this weekend, it became blatantly obvious that Alex Cora feels the same way. Hanley might’ve gotten DFA because Dustin Pedroia is back, but in reality, Cora chose Mitch Moreland over Hanley Ramirez.
When you look at the numbers, it’s actually not hard to see why. In just 118 plate appearances so far this season, Moreland is hitting .311/.390/.612 with 7 home runs, including back-to-back homer games on Thursday and Friday. As his nickname “2-Bags” suggests, he’s always good for a double, a consistency this team desperately needs, as an overwhelming amount of their homers have been solo shots; they’re still stranding a lot of batters on base, and Moreland is good at driving in runs. He has 11 doubles and 25 RBIs so far this season, nearly a third of his 2017 totals for each.
Hanley, meanwhile, had a hot start in April, but like his team, cooled off as they entered May. Unfortunately, his team reheated without his help, and as of Friday, he’d been batting .254/.313/.395. His batting average for the month of May was well under .200. Moreland has 8 homers in 127 plate appearances (7 in 118 by the time Hanley was DFA) while Hanley only had 6 in 195. Moreland only needed to start half of their first 50 games to surpass the career starter.
Dave Dombrowski has been adamant that the shocking decision is about baseball: “the vesting option has nothing to do with it… we’re trying to do everything we can to win.”
On a personal note, I’m very sad to see Hanley go. I think he was a great mentor to younger players and it was so fun to see him emerge as a lively clubhouse presence. I’m sure I’ll miss his power when we face the Yankees. But I have to agree with Cora: if this team wants to make it past the ALDS this season, they need more Mitch Moreland.
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Photo: Boston Globe