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Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Mitch Moreland announces his retirement from baseball

former Red Sox World Series champ has called it a career. He hasn’t filed any paperwork to make it official, but Mitch Moreland has retired from baseball.

Moreland hasn’t played since August 2021 when he was a member of the Oakland A’s. He was hoping to get a phone call at some point during the 2022 season, but that never happened.

This spring, Moreland got a call from the Red Sox about joining them in the dugout for some exhibition games. He was with the Red Sox on Tuesday as a coach for their spring tilt against the Atlanta Braves. That’s where the former Sox first baseman broke the news of his retirement to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

“I’m retired There you go. I’m done. I’m done playing,” Moreland said ahead of Tuesday night’s Red Sox win. “I’ve enjoyed the family life too much in the last year and a half. Being there for my kids. It got to the point where they were away from me during the season and in school. I wanted to be there for them, and be around the family more.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2023 at 12:37 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mitch moreland

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: March 08, 2023 at 01:10 PM (#6119944)
That homer he hit against the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series was fantastic. Enjoy your post baseball life, Mitch!
   2. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2023 at 02:52 PM (#6119959)
What's the old Woody Allen line: 90% of success in life is just showing up? Granted, it also helps to be among the 300 or so best baseball players on the planet. I don't mean this to sound insulting (genuinely) but Moreland made it to 4500 PA and $36 M by reliably not sucking. Only once did a team think it a good idea to trade for Moreland -- Padres in 2020 -- but no team ever released Moreland either. Neither a problem nor a solution.
   3. BDC Posted: March 08, 2023 at 03:37 PM (#6119963)
Much as I used to complain about him … I still think Moreland was terrible :-D

Nah, of course, as Walt says he was merely mediocre. The good players who hit about as well as Moreland in the same career length tended to be catchers: Johnny Kling, Don Slaught, Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Lieberthal, Gus Triandos. The ones closest to Moreland himself in dWAR as well as PAs and OPS+ are here:

Player            dWAR   PA OPSRbaser  HR RBI   BA      Pos
John Hummel       
-2.6 4385  102     -5  29 394 .254  4379H68
Mitch Moreland    
-3.7 4536  102    -10 186 618 .251  3HD9/17
Willie Upshaw     
-3.8 4736  103     -3 123 528 .262 *3HD7/98
Jim Eisenreich    
-4.4 4391  103     13  52 477 .290   97H8D3
Greg Gross        
-5.0 4355  103    -14   7 308 .287  H7983/1
Walt Dropo        
-6.0 4522  100     -5 152 704 .270     3H/5
Pete Incaviglia   
-6.4 4677  104     -5 206 655 .246  79HD8/3
Bill Robinson     
-6.4 4730  104    -10 166 641 .258   798H35 

Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 3/8/2023.

Most of these guys are familiar. The only one I hadn't heard of was John "Figurine" Hummel, second baseman and utility player for the pre-Wilbert-Robinson Brooklyn club. Hummel was okay, I guess. He could hit a little, was a semi- to full regular on some weak teams. By contrast, Moreland got to eight postseasons in 12 years.
   4. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: March 08, 2023 at 04:00 PM (#6119966)
What's the old Woody Allen line:

Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym.


Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love.
   5. Itchy Row Posted: March 08, 2023 at 05:42 PM (#6119973)
He retires as the all-time leader in bWAR among Morelands, more than three times as much as the other one. Their career hitting numbers are fairly similar, but Keith was apparently as bad with the glove as he looked.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2023 at 06:00 PM (#6119975)
I'd say Keith wasn't so much "bad with the glove" as "very slow with the legs." Except for when he was asked to stand near 3B at which point he might as well have played without a glove as his main technique was to block the ball like the old C that he was then hope it didn't roll too far away for him to throw the guy out. That's also pretty much his broadcasting style.

EDIT: More seriously, Moreland had a good arm (former C) and had 48 assists in 5550 innings in the OF -- that sounds pretty good to me. His career FP was the same as the league average out there. In LF, his RF/9 was even league average ... but in RF, it was 0.24 per 9 lower. Diffs in RF9 aren't necessarily diffs in actual opportunities but if you're giving up an extra double ever 4-5 games, that's a lot of runs. (He wasn't that bad.) Anyway, just 6 errors in those 5550 innings so it was mainly about not getting there. Watching Bob Dernier (not that one!) covering all the ground between Sarge and Moreland in 84 was, indeed, somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous (or a rock and a hard place).
   7. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2023 at 06:25 PM (#6119977)
For completeness, there is also Nate Moreland who threw 90 innings in the NeL but obviously nowhere near these guys in bWAR.

Broadening to "Morel?" brings the young Christopher Morel who will be lucky to get the PAs of Keith or Mitch. Brent Morel who did manage to finish above replacement despite his career 62 OPS+. Ramon Morel had 60 IP in the 1990s and Harry Morelock had 21 PAs in the 1890s.

Mitch Moreland is 3rd on the Mitch/Mitchell (first/baseball name only) list:

Webster (just misses #1)
Garver (needs about 3 WAR to pass Moreland)

I think those are the only ones above 5 but Mitch/Mitchell has hung on well as a name throughout history so there are a lot of them.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: March 08, 2023 at 07:10 PM (#6119980)
Mitchy Two Bags was a fun dude to root for. Not a star but a good solid player, contributed a lot to some really good Red Sox teams and as Rough says that homer…woof.
   9. Howie Menckel Posted: March 08, 2023 at 07:41 PM (#6119981)
He retires as the all-time leader in bWAR among Morelands, more than three times as much as the other one. Their career hitting numbers are fairly similar, but Keith was apparently as bad with the glove as he looked.

but Keith was immortalized in an epic "baseball song" called "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" (which, tragically, was not just a metaphor).

"You know, I'll never see Wrigley Field anymore before my eternal rest
So if you have your pencils and your scorecards ready
Then I'll read you my last request"

He said, "Give me a doubleheader funeral in Wrigley Field
On some sunny weekend day, no lights
Have the organ play the National Anthem
And then a little 'Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye'

"Make six bullpen pitchers carry my coffin
And six groundskeepers clear my path
Have the umpires bark me out at every base
In all their holy wrath

"It's a beautiful day for a funeral
Hey, Ernie, let's play two
Somebody go get Jack Brick-house to come back
And conduct just one more interview

"Have the Cubbies run right out into the middle of the field
Have KEITH MORELAND drop a routine fly
Give everybody two bags of peanuts and a frosty malt
And I'll be ready to die.."
   10. catomi01 Posted: March 08, 2023 at 08:42 PM (#6119987)
I don't know if my memory really matches actual history, but it seemed like almost every season, the Rangers would have a different plan for 1B that was going to be an upgrade over Mitch, but then at the end of the season, you'd look up and see him with 500 PA and 100+ games started, with a bat a little above or a little below average.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2023 at 11:03 PM (#6119996)
I feel like he set the record for most times reaching free agency and re-signing with his club.
   12. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: March 08, 2023 at 11:20 PM (#6119998)
I think it was Szymborski who said it a few years ago. Not sure the exact line but he was unsigned and he said he was just going to show up at Red Sox spring training and wind up in the opening day lineup because no one would realize he didn’t actually have a contract,
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2023 at 09:23 AM (#6120014)
I feel like he set the record for most times reaching free agency and re-signing with his club.
I think actually only twice. I don't know who did it the most. Looks like Jamie Moyer did it 4 times.
   14. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 09, 2023 at 01:14 PM (#6120032)
I hadn't really thought about Moreland this way until reading this thread, but his career really was the confluence of a lot of things going just right for him, in order to make it to 35 years old and $36 million in earnings:

- On several occasions, he was probably one more bad year away from not being able to keep a job - but then he would bounce back enough to stay in the mix. In 2014, he was coming off probably his worst year, injured, ineffective, arbitration-eligible...then he had arguably his best full season of his career in 2015. Then, in 2016, he reverts back to below-average - but he wins a Gold Glove, so now he hits free agency as an excellent glove, average hitter, not too expensive. Red Sox give him a multi-year deal, and even though he had a slow first year of the deal, and wasn't that much better in 2018, he starts hot, makes his only all-star team, and the team wins the World Series. Why change horses in 2019 when you just won 108 games the year before? Moreland benefited from that ASG appearance and WS title. Then, in 2020, he has an awesome 22 games for the Red Sox, and they are able to trade him to SD, where he was dreadful. But his 22-game sample was good enough for Oakland to take a shot on him. So, he had some good timing.

- He never priced himself out of a job. Once he hit arbitration, all the way through free agency, he never made less than $2.25m, nor more than $6.5m. I remember him being on the Red Sox, and even though I was never excited to see him playing on my team, I also was never upset that he was somehow taking resources away from what we needed to do. In 2022, I'd see the team putting Jackie Bradley Jr in RF, hitting under .200, but making like $12m, and it would drive me crazy. Moreland? Eh.

- There is something about good-glove first baseman that gives them a Teflon quality for many fans. Because it seems you see the 1B in on a play more than any other player besides the P and C, it seems like being a superior glove guy would matter more...although it is not at clear that this is true. There is an old-school "thinking man" vibe to "appreciating all the subtle ways" a good-glove 1B saves you outs and runs. Heck, I still hear older fans tell me that George Scott had the softest glove, etc.

- By all accounts, he was a really good teammate and clubhouse guy. The fact the Red Sox invited him down to hang around the team this Spring Training suggests his presence alone had some value. That's great. Whether it is a high school team, or an office, or a big league roster, if you are seen as a really good "glue" person, you can win an awful lot of tie breakers. Isn't that what kept Enos Cabell in the big leagues long after he could play well? Sparky Anderson used to say Cabell was the ultimate team player. Ultimately, if you can't hit, field, or pitch, you're not going to be on a team, but I like to tell my kids that not being an a-hole as your default vibe is a sneaky-important skill to have in life. It can even keep you in the big leagues a few extra years.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: March 09, 2023 at 03:04 PM (#6120041)
But his 22-game sample was good enough for Oakland to take a shot on him.

C'mon it's Oakland. Alive and old with a recognizable name is enough to claim the traditional "alive and old with a recognizable name" roster spot with the A's. :-)

There is something about good-glove first baseman

Having been a good-glove 1B (granted in softball), I'd say it's more that there's something about bad-glove 1Bs. Nothing will frustrate a coach, player, pitcher or fan more than a 1B muffing a throw or an easy grounder five feet from the bag. Every season I was mildly insulted because our team captain would go find some guy who could hit better than me and stick him at 1B but, no later than the end of game 2, the position was mine again. (Didn't hurt that the captain was the SS.)

If you are a 150 OPS+ oaf, they're OK with you at 1B (assuming DH is blocked). If you are a 120 OPS+ oaf, you are in danger of losing your job to Moreland. If you are a 110 OPS+ oaf, enjoy DHing for the Pirates. Now Eric Hosmer is a tougher one to explain. The stats don't like his defense but teams seem to. Regardless, throughout modern baseball history, pretty much every season you can find 2-3 (pretty much) full-time 1B and another 4-5 1B conglomerations sporting a 100 OPS+.

Of course the main reason is that there aren't actually enough 110-120 OPS+ hitters with limited defense out there to fill all the DH slots much less produce enough overflow to eat up 1B slots.

According to bWAA, 7 teams last year got replacement level or worse out of their 1Bs, "headed" by Pitt who were two wins below replacement. One of those 7 teams was the Astros. 30-yo Mitch Moreland would still have no trouble finding a job.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: March 09, 2023 at 05:09 PM (#6120048)
Just out of curiosity, based on bWAR 2022: number of teams with neg WAR at a position (and the team with the worst) and the average WAR at the position

C. 7 (LAA -0.9) 1.6
1B 6 (Pit -2.1) 1.9
2B 0 (3 at 0.1) 2.4
3B 4 (Oak -1.2) 2.6
SS 2 (Cin -0.7) 3.1
LF 3 (Atl -1.4) 1.5
CF 3 (Cin -0.8) 2.4
RF 3 (Pit -0.9) 2.0
DH 2 (Oak -0.7) 1.6

Pitt and Cinn were bad teams (who knew) with two positions and they were among the bottom 3 at 2B too. It's weird no team was below replacement at 2B but they made up for it by being extra sucky at 1B and C. LF being below-average (1.5 WAR) is a long-running trend and seems to have become the MLB equivalent of where you stick the kid who's no good.

Here are positions with their average batting and baserunning runs (i.e. no positional adjustment ... the b-r table I'm using doesn't give DP runs) and the sum of those

C. -9.6 ... -1.6 ... -11.2
1B +7.6 ... -1.2 ... + 6.4
2B -2.4 ... +0.9 ... - 1.5
3B +3.3 ... -0.1 ... + 3.2
SS -2.4 ... +1.6 ... - 0.8
LF +0.9 ... -0.2 ... + 0.7
CF -2.6 ... +1.4 ... - 1.2
RF +2.9 ... +0.3 ... + 3.2
DH +5.5 ... -1.1 ... + 4.4

Traditional ordering still pretty well in place except 3B are ahead of LF on offense. But look how small that spread has become, except for C. The "offensive spectrum" from 2B to 1B was just 8 runs in 2022. Take the 1B/DH oafs out and it was under 5 runs. The positional adjustment from SS to 1B is a range of about 17 runs, add another 5 for DH. I see RF was the only position with positive bats and running.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: March 09, 2023 at 05:43 PM (#6120049)
I am stunned the Orioles didn't have negative WAR at 2B.
   18. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: March 09, 2023 at 08:24 PM (#6120054)
but I like to tell my kids that not being an a-hole as your default vibe is a sneaky-important skill to have in life. It can even keep you in the big leagues a few extra years.

A guy I used to work with was fond of saying you can be an ####### and great at your job or a great guy and an idiot, just don’t be an ####### and an idiot. There is definitely something to people with the right personality.
   19. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 09, 2023 at 09:44 PM (#6120061)
but I like to tell my kids that not being an a-hole as your default vibe is a sneaky-important skill to have in life. It can even keep you in the big leagues a few extra years.

Juan Pierre. I met him once at a kids day baseball camp at Marlins Park. He was a super nice guy and I immediately regretted hating him when he was on the Cubs and WS. To be clear, this was during his second stint with the Marlins.
   20. sunday silence (again) Posted: March 10, 2023 at 05:28 AM (#6120065)

Traditional ordering still pretty well in place except 3B are ahead of LF on offense.

But wait hasnt SS moved more toward middle of the pack in batting? Nice summary there by the way.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: March 10, 2023 at 02:04 PM (#6120086)
#20 Yes SS has had big gains the last few years, moving from close to C to the middle. They tend to flip-flop with 2B and have had 1-2 big batting years in the last 5 or so.

#17 The O's were the other team in the 3-way tie with 0.1 WAR at 2B.
   22. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: March 11, 2023 at 09:37 AM (#6120147)
Re 9: Songwriter Steve Goodman died of leukemia on September 20, 1984 -- four days before the Cubs clinched the NL East.

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