By: Jake Perda
It was no secret that Red Sox prospect Sam Travis what lighting it up down in Fort Myers this Spring. During Spring Training, Travis hit .318 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI’s, and an OPS just under 1.000. Coming off an ACL tear that cut his 2016 season short, it was quite the pleasant surprise to see Travis pick up right where he left off prior to the injury. As a result, it was not an uncommon opinion among Sox fans that Travis should begin the year on the Big League roster and be given the chance to fight Mitch Moreland for every day at bats right from the start of the season. Luckily, the Red Sox elected to have Travis start the year in the minors and give Moreland the chance to prove that he could be their everyday first baseman. Nine games into the season, it appears that they made the right decision.
Moreland currently enters the team’s third series of the season as the Red Sox hottest hitter that’s not a catcher. Although hitting .324 for 9 games may not seem like an achievement worthy of bragging about, Moreland has been consistently driving the ball more in a way that not even the most optimistic fans could have expected. After beginning the season on a painful 0-9 skid in which he struck out a Yoan Moncada-esque 5 times, Moreland has gone on a tear the last 7 games collecting at least 1 doubled in each game (8 total). Not only has this earned him nicknames such as “Mitchy Two Bags”, “Dubs”, “Mitchy Dubs”, or the Red Sox social media teams super creative “Mr. Double”, but this production has also made Red Sox fans realize that we don’t need Sam Travis at the Big League level right now.
As we learned with Jackie Bradley Jr. in 2013, and Xander Bogaerts in 2014, rushing our young talent to the Majors does nothing but cause regression. That being said, Travis will likely be ready to join the Sox late this season or at the beginning of the 2018 season. But for now we have Mitch Moreland holdin’ it down at first base hitting two-bagger after two-bagger. Not to mention, Moreland’s defensive prowess has been completely overlooked in all of this. We expected Moreland’s glove to be the factor that kept him in the lineup on a regular basis, when in reality his superb fielding ability has been a mere afterthought in the conversation about his production so far in 2017.
Obviously it’s unfair of us to expect Moreland to ride this hot streak all season and wind up with 150 doubles on the year, but I guarantee that the moment he begins to slump the Sox fans will be calling for Sam Travis to come up and replace him. Regardless, it’s been nice to get some production from the first base position, and it would appear that Mitch Moreland’s job is safe for the time being.