The Red Sox signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year contract for a total of $13 million Monday, their biggest move of the off-season yet.
Many fans were skeptical of the move, as the Red Sox had also been showing interest in ex-Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. Some fans are upset about the signing, but was re-signing Mitch Moreland a good idea on the Red Sox part?
When talking offensively, Hosmer had a much better year. Hosmer sported some career high stats of .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI while playing in every game of the season. Hosmer also won the American League silver slugger award for first basemen.
On the other hand, Mitch Moreland played 13 fewer games than Hosmer and only batted .246/.326/.443, slamming 22 home runs and driving in 79 runs. Moreland is also well-known for getting extra base hits, hitting 34 doubles which earned him the nickname “Mitchie Two-Bags”.
While those stats may seem bad, it’s important to remember that Moreland is a very streaky hitter. At times he could drive the ball but at other times he could miss the ocean while sailing in a boat. Moreland had days where he could go 5-5 and days where he could go 0-3, while Hosmer hit consistently all season.
Defensively they are outstanding.
In 2017 Moreland was a defending Gold Glove winner, having a .998 fielding percentage last season, allowing him to win his first career Gold Glove. This season however Moreland had a .995 fielding percentage with only five errors.
Hosmer was a better defensive first baseman, but not by much, with a .997 fielding percentage and only four errors. His outstanding fielding along with the fact he played 157 games at first base this season allowed him to win the AL Gold Glove at first base, his fourth career Gold Glove in his seven seasons.
Many fans wanted Hosmer to play for the Red Sox, but also wanted a power bat. The problem is that Hosmer has never been a power bat. In his seven seasons Hosmer has only had two where he hit 20+ home runs: in 2016 and 2017. Hosmer is less of a power bat and more of a contact hitter, with only having one season where his batting average was under .250 and his OPS was under .700.
In fact, you could argue that Moreland is more of a power hitter than Hosmer.
In his last five seasons Moreland has hit 92 home runs and hit 20+ in four of those seasons. Moreland did not hit 20+ home runs in 2014 however due to having knee surgery. In those four seasons Moreland has also had an OPS above .700.
After calculating a 162 game average, which is taking the career total of a stat and dividing it by 162, Moreland’s home runs per 162 games was higher than Hosmer’s, but only by three home runs.
Hosmer would most likely want a lot of money and a long contract. At the age of 28 he may want a contract that would keep him playing until his mid-30s.
This would be fine in most cases, but the Red Sox are looking for a power bat, and it’s not the best idea to sign a first baseman who has only his 20 home runs in two seasons.
Moreland’s contract is short and reasonable. At the age of 32, a short contract promises the Red Sox that if Moreland’s skill decreases with his age, they do not have him for too long. $6.5M a year is also quite fair, as the Red Sox know what they’re getting. Moreland is the soul definition of a streaky hitter but he’s an outstanding first baseman.
Many fans may be upset about Moreland coming back to Boston, claiming this will be another mediocre year, but have not looked into the facts.
Moreland may not have a consistent batting average or have the most power, but he is consistent at getting on base, slugging, and hitting home runs. Along with his defensive skills it’s fair to say the signing of Mitch Moreland was a good idea.