Jays From the Couch brings you a look at what to expect from Toronto Blue Jays DH, Kendrys Morales in 2017
With Spring Training workouts under way, it is the time of year where we start to get excited about the upcoming season. Baseball is back! In looking ahead, there will be lots of chatter about what we can expect from certain players. To that end, we’ll be taking a look at the different projections for the Toronto Blue Jays to give you an idea of what you can look forward to.
To start things off, we have the one Blue Jay who just might be facing the toughest set of expectations- Kendrys Morales. The switch hitting DH was signed quite early on in the offseason – a sticking point for a good many folks – to a 3yr $33M deal. He’ll be expected by many to fill in the rather large shoes left behind by Edwin Encarnacion. Because of that, he’s already being touted as a disappointment for many fans. But, he hasn’t even played a game for Toronto yet. Rather than thinking of this guy as “Not Edwin”, we should look at him as the player that he is. And, our expectations should follow suit.
|162 Game Avg.||162||641||71||159||34||25||92||47||114||.273||.331||.465||.795|
Last season, Morales represented the thump in a Kansas City Royals lineup that couldn’t repeat their previous year’s success. He hit 30 HR and 93 RBI for the defending World Series champions. And, while he is a DH only, who will be expected to come in to Toronto and hit deep fly balls, it is tempting to look at the HR totals and expect more of the same.
But, there are some other numbers (via Fangraphs) to take note of. In 2016: wOBA: .364, ISO: 204, FB%: 35.7%, HR/FB: 19%, BABIP: 283. With a slightly lower than average BABIP, we might expect that Morales could be due for a better showing in 2017. Except, that his career BABIP is .295. So, maybe BABIP doesn’t play much into his performance. Hitting from both sides of the plate will also be something to keep an eye on. For his career, he has more than twice as many plate appearances from the left side of the plate and almost 3 times as many HR. This will provide the Blue Jays with a lefty presence in a right handed heavy lineup.
What will come into effect is the amount of times Morales hits the ball in the air. With a career flyball rate of 35% combined with the rate at which those flyballs turn into home runs, we can reasonably expect to see some increased HR totals. Morales is moving from the AL Central to hit in the AL East, which houses a ridiculous right field porch in Yankee Stadium, a very tempting Green Monster in Boston and an overall launching pad in Toronto. Heck, the whole division is made for launching bombs. Again, since this is a major part of what Morales was brought in to do, it should play out well for him.
It is difficult to imagine that these projections are anything but conservative when it comes to Morales and his move to Toronto. He’ll be surrounded by a lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, etc etc. With Morales’ constant home run threat, pitchers may be tempted to pitch around him, but in this lineup that becomes infinitely more difficult.
Whether that results in an inrceased OBP for Morales, or increased HR with pitchers coming in to him remains to be seen. But, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he performs closer to his Fans projections than the others. And, again, don’t be surprised if he surpasses all of the projections for home runs and RBI. His power, in this division, in this lineup could raise these totals easily.
While many fans will lament that Morales is not Edwin and it will take a lot for them to forget this connection. But, if he can surpass the above projections, as I think he will, people will forget about who he is not and could very well enjoy who Kendrys Morales is. He is not fast. He is not Edwin. But, he is a guy looking to come in to Toronto and provide some thump in the middle of a lineup that is already pretty good. He will get on base. He will add balance. And, all things considered, he should exceed your expectations.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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