Defensive Difference: Mitch Moreland excels

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
7:37
AM CT
Ron Washington uses Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland at first base. Moreland, who has just six errors in 1,096 chances in two seasons, is the only one of the three who's a first baseman by trade.

Moreland helped the Rangers advance to the ALCS for the second consecutive season with a couple of nifty plays in the sixth inning, while the Rangers clung to a 3-2 lead.

If you want to see how much the Rangers have evolved over the years, consider Moreland started the last two games at first base. Moreland is not nearly as good an offensive player as Young or Napoli, but he's clearly the better defensive first baseman.

He proved it in the sixth inning.

First, he ranged to his right to snag a roller by Johnny Damon, who was leading off the inning. Then he realized Derek Holland wasn't going to beat Damon to the bag because he landed on the third base side of the mound after his delivery and he stumbled running to first base.

Moreland dove headfirst and touched the bag with his glove just before Damon, sliding headfirst, got to the bag to record the first out of the inning.

With two outs in the sixth, Moreland made another nice play, scooping up Casey Kotchman's roller to his right. This time, he flipped the ball to Holland for the out.

It's not always about offense. These Rangers understand that.
Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.323 15 58 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 15
RBIA. Beltre 58
RA. Beltre 57
OPSA. Beltre .883
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 2.90
SOY. Darvish 167