What the Hell, Brent Morel?

For the first four-plus months of the season, Chicago White Sock Brent Morel played pretty similarly to how one might have expected Brent Morel to play, striking out rarely and walking even more rarely while displaying what is referred euphemistically to as “gap” power.

Over the past month, however, he’s basically turned into a third base-playing Ian Kinsler, walking and striking out at about the same rate while hitting home runs at a pretty excellent pace, but with the low-ish BABIP that Kinsler routinely posts.

To wit:

Because you’re a nerd, you’re definitely prepared to inform the author about the sample size with which we’re dealing here and its relative small-ness. Please understand that your warnings are being considered, one-by-one, as carefully and lovingly as possible. And, indeed, it’s true: even James Loney can look good for 100 PAs at a time.

It’s worth noting, though, that it’s not just Morel’s slash line we’re looking at. The other numbers here become reliable with smaller samples — samples such that, even if we were to regress to the reliable sample size with Morel’s career numbers, we’d still be seeing what basically amounts to a different guy. Speaking anecdotally, that’s a less common thing.

There are zero hard conclusions to be drawn from this. But I, personally, will be watching Morel with more interest over the remainder of the season and into next.

Thank to you Baseball Reference for their sweet game logs.



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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SoCalTwinsfan
Guest
SoCalTwinsfan
4 years 10 months ago

What about his groundball rates? If he made a change in his swing to get more lift, more balls in the air would probably result in a drop in BABIP and an increase in slugging. Not uncommon for young players to work on increased power in the majors after getting more comfortable there. Also looks like he might be more selective looking for a pitch to drive out of the park, resulting in more walks and a slight increase in Ks.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 10 months ago

So, I clicked on James Loney. And holy crap. He’s hitting .308/.365/.471/.836 over his last 397 plate appearances. I’d thought he still had like a .500 OPS on the season.

So, yeah, sample sizes. Even James Loney can look good for 400 plate appearances at a time. But he’s still terrible.

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
4 years 10 months ago

Having watched him all season, he’s one of those guys who looks like he’s being hurt by an ‘opposite field’ approach. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t look like he could be Kinsler if he started trying to pull the ball, but he does strike me as very similar to Brandon Inge, and a changed approach might raise the K’s and HR’s enough to make him the exact same player.

That’s not awesome news, but considering how little everyone has expected from him, I’d be totally alright with it.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
4 years 10 months ago

Carson, I always thought gap power wasn’t a euphemism for banjo hitters, but someone who hit less than 20-25 homers and hit a ton of doubles/triples. Something like Reyes or Zobrist. Or maybe Lyle Overbay, back when he was decent.

WSO
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Brent Morel did not display power earlier in the season, neither gap nor other known varieties

GregN
Guest
GregN
4 years 10 months ago

For the record, singular of Sox, Red or White, is Sox.
You could look it up.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 10 months ago

The only thing more wrong than preferring “Sox” as a singular is asserting that there’s a definitive rule on this matter.

juan pierre's mustache
Guest
juan pierre's mustache
4 years 10 months ago
Andrew
Guest
Andrew
4 years 10 months ago

I think what needs to be focused on here is that he walked FOUR times in 309 plate appearances. B-R says that a player has drawn only four walks or fewer in 300+ PAs only seven times since 1901. Obviously he’s gone and ruined that, now.

Darren
Guest
Darren
4 years 10 months ago

Can’t wait for your follow-up article on John Kruk.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 10 months ago

We were thinking the same thing.

Beat me to the punch.

willyam shaykspeer
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willyam shaykspeer
4 years 10 months ago
Nathaniel Stoltz
Guest
Nathaniel Stoltz
4 years 10 months ago

The big thing with Morel is that he’s actually walking. He had seven walks through the end of August, now has twelve in Sept. alone. That can’t possibly be a coincidence. I suppose one could explain the rest away with a combination of “small sample” and “diluted talent on expanded rosters,” but the bottom line is that he’s actually taking some pitches and getting in better counts.

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
4 years 10 months ago

He is definitely getting in better counts but I don’t know if that’s the cause of his power spike. IIRC, at least three of those 6 HR have been on first pitches. Maybe pitchers know he is hitting better and are not just saying “here it is, hit it.” Or maybe they are being careful with him because he has actually shown the ability to occasionally hurt them and he is taking those pitches.

Whatever, I just hope he continues it into next season.

HAWK HARRELSON
Guest
HAWK HARRELSON
4 years 10 months ago

HE GAWN

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
4 years 10 months ago

Why do you hate me so, Cistulli?

I’ve tried to love you and your writing but you seem determined to become my mortal enemy.

Rick B.
Guest
Rick B.
4 years 10 months ago

Sox fans who followed Morel through the minors should not be so surprised by his improvement. He consistently seemed slightly over matched initially as he climbed up through the minors. After a time at every level he made adjustments and proved to be at least a slightly above average offensive player. He should be a 2-3 WAR 3rd baseman for a few years in his prime if the Sox don’t dump him and attempt to upgrade.

Rhubarb
Guest
Rhubarb
4 years 10 months ago

His defense is on par with Crede although he tends to have an occassional throwing error. His upside at the plate is Joe Randa-esque. Sox is the proper singular and plural.

Moonraker
Guest
Moonraker
4 years 10 months ago

Hi Carson (or someone else):

Which of those numbers become reliable with smaller sample sizes, and how small of sample sizes are we talking about here?

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker
4 years 10 months ago

There is also a date picking problem. You picked 8/20 as the break, and that further adds to the possibility of bias. If you were doing months, it would be less suspect.

steex
Member
steex
4 years 10 months ago

True, but Carson isn’t claiming a lack of sample bias here. I think he’s purposely cherry-picking to make his point – i.e., if you want to show that Morel has had a hot stretch at the plate, your chosen window should exclude the time before the hot stretch started.

Levi
Guest
Levi
4 years 10 months ago

Brent Morel is a fun guy.

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