by Matt Rooney
.177. That’s what Mitch Moreland is hitting since the All Star Break. He has been absolutely terrible, and is costing the Red Sox games. According to the analytics, he has has been the 12th worst hitter in baseball among players with at least 100 plate appearances in the second half. The Sox have a major problem at first base and it needs to be resolved.
After the Sox released Hanley Ramirez, Mitch went on an absolute tear en route to his first ever All Star appearance. It has been all down hill from there, and the Sox need to consider alternatives before the postseason.
The most obvious scenario is a platoon where Moreland is in the lineup vs righties while Steve Pearce, a midseason addition from Toronto, goes against lefties. Pearce has been all we could have hoped for this year and definitely deserves more playing time. For the playoffs though, Manager Alex Cora may prefer to have a trustworthy veteran with power available to pinch hit late in games. Pearce very well could be that guy, so let’s take a look at three other less obvious solutions.
Brock Holt is a swiss army knife. He can play any position other than pitcher and catcher, and has been great in clutch situations. Just last night, he hit a 3-run homer with 2 outs in the seventh to turn a deficit into a lead. Although he doesn’t come with typical first baseman power, Holt potentially deserves a chance. Anything is better than 2nd half Mitch.
After introducing himself to Sox fans last week with a game winning 2 run homer in the ninth, Brandon Phillips has entered this conversation as well. He has taken fielding practice at first the past few days, and if they want to get him playing time, this would be the way to do it. The Sox should give him a few games here before the playoffs come around, and if he makes a good impression, then why not?
Finally, the wildcard. Since Eduardo Nunez has pretty much locked down the third base job for the playoffs, the Red Sox could potentially try Rafael Devers at first. Devers has had a disappointing year, hitting .239 with 16 homers and 55RBI. He is a terrible fielder at third base, so moving him to first would mask those concerns. After hitting over .300, and mashing 2 homers vs the Astros last season in the playoffs, Devers deserves to play. He is definitely talented enough and has the most raw power of any player not named JD Martinez. This move may not be best for Devers and the Red Sox long term, but it could really pay off in October.
Give Moreland a little longer to figure it out, but if he can’t, Rafael Devers is the move. Give him a chance Cora. You have been bold all season, and as a result, you are sitting at 99 wins…on September 11th! Devers is incredibly talented, and the Red Sox are a much better team when he is mashing in the middle of the order. Steve Pearce makes sense as well, but I trust him pinch hitting in the ninth way more than I trust Raffy Yes, I know moving the 21 year old third baseman to play first for the best team in baseball sounds crazy, but you have to be bold to win in October.