Boston Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland’s success so far this season can be traced back to his ability to crush the four-seam fastball.
The Boston Red Sox are coming off a nice sweep against the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The bats came to life this weekend but for Mitch Moreland, his bat has been a big contributor in the early part of the 2019 season.
Moreland leads the Red Sox with 7 home runs and 14 RBI. He has a .258 batting average, .652 slugging percentage, and a .971 OPS. The veteran first baseman is on his way to a career year and this success stems from crushing fastballs.
When Moreland hits the four-seam fastball, his exit velocity is the highest it’s been in his career at 94.4, per FanGraphs. His batting averages are up against the four-seamer, going from .296 in 2018 to .333 so far in 2019. In 21 at-bats with the fastball, he’s had seven hits, three home runs and two RBI’s. It’s only going to go up with that pitch.
Moreland is making contact on the four-seam fastball outside the zone 73.3% of the time, which was higher than last year’s 71.6%. His swing percentage is up from last season too with the fastball from 47.0%, to 51.1%.
Moreland’s line drive percentage against the four-seam fastball is 37.5%, which is the highest in his career. This means he’s getting more base hits when pitchers throw him the four-seamer. Also, his ground ball percentage is at a career low of 25.0%. This could also be the reason why he’s been doing so well at the plate. He’s making fewer outs and getting on base more.
Pitchers have to watch out when throwing Moreland the four-seamer. He must have improved or fixed something mechanically in the offseason and spring training to have his exit velocity go up on the fastball. His production should only go up from here as there are still 100+ games left in the season.
In my opinion, Moreland can be the power hitter the Red Sox need in key game situations. All of these stats you see above prove how much Moreland as improved at the plate from previous seasons against the four-seamer. Moreland is also a free agent after this season which means he’ll want to perform his best this year to get the best deal in the offseason.
If Moreland keeps doing what he’s doing at the plate, all of these numbers will go up. He can come up in big spots if other guys are in a slump, which is what we saw early on. His bat can also wake the guys up who are not hitting well either. Moreland has the ability to keep pitchers on their toes and make them feel uncomfortable on the mound. It can only go up from here for Moreland and there’s lots of baseball left.