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Mitch Moreland wasn’t supposed to be the starting first baseman for the Boston Red Sox in 2018. And yet, the 32-year-old will be representing the American League in the 2018 All-Star Game.
The deck has long been stacked against Moreland after being selected in the 17th round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Only two players (Moreland and the retired Brandon Gomes) picked in that round reached the big leagues.
Moreland defied odds to earn a trip to the Mid-Summer Classic after beginning the year as the backup to Hanley Ramirez. He provided a steady bat and excellent defense in the games he played at the start of the season. Once Ramirez was designated for assignment on May 25, Moreland assumed the role of the everyday first baseman and maintained his success at the plate.
In 71 games played, he has posted a .288 batting average with a .358 on-base percentage, .525 slugging percentage, .884 OPS, 11 homers, 15 doubles, four triples and 43 RBIs.
Earning his first All-Star nod as a part of the players’ vote, Moreland was in disbelief of his accomplishment.
“I didn't know if it would ever be quite possible,” Moreland said after learning the news before Boston’s win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
It was Red Sox manager Alex Cora who revealed in the clubhouse which of his players will taking part in the All-Star Game on July 17 from Nationals Park in Washington D.C. He announced Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez (both of whom were voted in by fans to start the contest), ace Chris Sale and closer Craig Kimbrel together—before mentioning Moreland’s name last to accentuate the first baseman’s honor.
“I'm very proud of all of them (the five Red Sox players selected to the All-Star Game) but to tell the team that he's [Moreland] an All-Star, that was amazing,” Cora said. “The reaction, you should see like David Price got up right away and gave him a hug. And it was a huge standing ovation.”
Cora recognized Moreland’s ascension from a reserve role to an AL All-Star selection.
“In the offseason, a lot of people didn't think he was going to be here for X or Y reason,” Cora said. “We decided to make a commitment with him. He didn't start the season as an everyday player. He earned it. We made a huge move because we wanted him to play every day.”
The first-time All-Star Moreland called his wife and father before Sunday’s game to let them know the terrific news. He received plenty of love from his teammates as well.
“Obviously everybody coming up and giving you hugs, and excited,” Moreland said. “They were just as excited as I was about it. Special.”