Red Sox Round Table: Five questions to consider during spring training
By Sean Penney
Should Mitch Moreland sit against left-handed pitchers?
Sean: His .240 career average against lefties suggests that Moreland is a prime platoon candidate. He actually found more success against southpaws last season (.277) than he did against right-handed pitchers, but it came in only 100 plate appearances. I’m basing this decision on the larger sample size. Sitting Moreland against lefties allows Hanley Ramirez to stay more engaged by having him occasionally play first base, while allowing lefty-masher Chris Young to get into the lineup as the DH.
Daniel: The answer really depends on what the Red Sox are willing to give up in terms of opportunity cost by playing Moreland against lefties. He hit them well last year (121 OPS+) but if he’s playing, Young won’t be. Young had a 135 OPS+ against left-handers last season and has the career splits to justify that spot. Expect Moreland to get a lot of action at first against righties, but get his days off when a southpaw takes the mound.
Rick: Moreland will get most of his AB’s from facing right-handed pitchers, but in late innings with a lead he has to be at first base no matter who is pitching. Ramirez is just not that good. This is an excellent glove guy – no Minky, but close.
David: I like this idea. Young is very strong against left-handed pitching and I’d like to see Hanley getting reps at first base.
Mike: Moreland will primarily be used as the first baseman when there is a right-handed pitcher on the mound, but he probably will not see the field when there is a lefty out there. He is a poor hitter vs. LHP (.240), and it is easy to slide Hanley over to first base. Either Young, Holt, or a position player who needs a day off could fill the DH role. However, if Hanley struggles, Moreland might see some playing time in order to keep consistency in the lineup.
Chris: After the way he hit left-handers last year, he should be sitting against righties. Last year he hit .277 against lefties and .221 against righties. That stat is probably an anomaly since his average is 18 points higher against righties for his career. What it will come down to is Andrew Benintendi’s ability to hit lefties. If Benintendi is hitting lefties like he did last year (.179 average with 12 strikeouts in 28 at-bats), then Young should play left field and Moreland should stay at first base. If Benintendi is able to hit lefties better, then you sit Moreland and put Young at DH with Hanley at first.
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