Playoff position breakdown: 1B
Today's position: 1B
Our outlook on this position would probably be a lot different if we discussed this a few weeks ago. But much has happened since then. Jorge Cantu, who couldn't seem to buy an RBI with this team, had two very big ones in the Rangers' clinching game in Oakland. And he's started to hit left-handed pitching down the stretch. Cantu has a .281 batting average in September and he was 7-for-16 (.438) in the final four-game series with the A's, much of that against left-handed pitching. Cantu, though, has actually hit right-handed pitching much better over the course of the entire season (.265 against righties, .239 against lefties). But that right-handed bat will be nice to have in the lineup when the first-round series starts against a lefty (either the Yankees' C.C. Sabathia or the Rays' David Price). Cantu's defense has also been solid. He made two very good plays in the Rangers' win on Friday night in Oakland and it's part of his game that is underrated.
The question becomes which other first baseman does the club put on the postseason roster. General manager Jon Daniels, manager Ron Washington and the staff want to see how things play out during this final week with their two reserve left-handed hitting first baseman. It's been a bit of a back-and-forth battle. Chris Davis came back up and started hitting to the point where, at this time last week, he appeared to have the edge. But Mitch Moreland, who was in a slump at the same time that Davis was in a hot streak, was 3-for-6 with two homers in the series finale in Oakland.
Coming into Wednesday's game, Davis was 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in his last three games. That was after going 4-for-9 with a homer and four RBIs when he was called back up on Sept. 11.
Davis has been a late-inning replacement at first base (mainly when the Rangers have the lead) since he was recalled. His glove work has been consistently good the past few seasons and there is a comfort level with having him make defensive plays in close games, which are likely in the postseason. But it should be noted that Moreland's defense has been pretty solid too. He can certainly play the position, which would allow the Rangers to go with the hotter hand at the plate if they choose.
I think letting things play out is smart to see if either guy gets on a particular roll. But to me, Moreland has the better 2010 track record in terms of hitting and his defense is solid enough that I'd go with him.
But who are you leaning towards for that left-handed hitting first base spot?
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