The following is a profile of Mitch Moreland, one of my 2011 fantasy baseball deep sleeper candidates (affectionately called narcos). For more information on the thought process behind the narcos, please visit the introductory post on this topic.
Average Draft Position: 388.95
Others drafted around that time: Jed Lowrie, Clint Barmes, Chris Coughlan
2011 Role: 1B/DH with potential to start
2010 Production: .255 AVG, 9 HR, 20 R, 25 RBI, 3 SB in 173 PA
My 2011 Prediction: .285 AVG, 25 HR, 70 R, 85 RBI, 5 SB (if he starts)
It seems like Texas has had a constant funnel of young first base prospects coming through their system recently. There was Chris Davis who teased us with his potential for the past few years but never delivered and then there was Justin Smoak who had even more potential but was swapped in the Cliff Lee deal. Then, last year, along came Mitch Moreland. In the time it takes to get a cup of coffee at the MLB level last season, Moreland mashed nine homeruns, turning some heads in the process. He was never as highly as touted of a prospect as the others but showed great promise in the minors that made him hard to ignore. He hit .313 (with a .383 OBP) with 48 homers over 361 minor league games, showing good power and patience at the plate.
With uncertainty surrounding Michael Young, it also leads to a bit of uncertainty with Moreland for 2011. However, despite the Young scenario, he is currently slated to start at 1B according to MLBDepthCharts.com with Mike Napoli spelling him as well. If Young is able to get traded, that creates a bit more breathing room here and allows Napoli to take more AB’s at DH instead of stealing them from Moreland at 1B.
Regardless, if he truly able to be the starter in 2011, big things could be in order. Don’t be fooled by the .255 average last year as small sample size and low BABIP are partly to blame. If you factor in his playoff at-bats, he hit for .277 on the season (with a .370 OBP) which is more in line with what to expect at the very least out of him. In point-based leagues, he’s even more valuable considering his high walk rate which shouldn’t be ignored if you are rewarded for it. He’s got a nice bit of power and good plate discipline in a powerful lineup which should lead to lots of RBI opportunities depending on his batting position. Despite being a young starting first baseman with upside, Moreland is still valued fairly low in drafts and could be had for a reasonable discount price. It definitely doesn’t hurt to invest a late pick Moreland considering his high potential for 2011.