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Kendrys Morales: What to Expect in 2013

Kendrys Morales completed his first full season since fracturing his tibia in late May 2010. His injuries were not an issue in 2012, but his playing time was limited because he shared time at 1B and DH with Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols. Morales current talent level is a bit uncertain and his playing time is even more up in the air.

The 29-year-old switch hitter hit decent in 2012 and was the 23rd highest ranked 1B last season. Here is how his AVG, HR, and SB numbers compare over his last 3 seasons.

2009 622 0.306 34 3
2010 211 0.290 11 0
2012 522 0.273 22 0

He has no speed and I would never expect a SB from him.

The HR numbers are all over the place, but so are the plate appearances. I took the HR and prorated them each year to 600 PAs.

Year: HRs
2009: 33
2010: 31
2011: 25

He was able to maintain a somewhat consistent, though declining, HR production.

His FB power has been the consistent part of the equation:

Year HR/FB HR&FB Distance
2009 18% 295 ft
2010 22% 288 ft
2012 21% 287 ft

The biggest change has been a decline in FB% from 41% to 28% from 2009 to 2012 and his GB% going from 42% to 51% over the same time frame.

Without a change in his FB%, he will max out at around 25 HRs if he gets a full season of PAs.

His AVG did drop 25 points from a 0.300 AVG in 2009-2010 to 0.275 last season. I would love to take the easy road and say that he was unlucky with his BABIP, but it remained about the same.

The cause for the drop in AVG was a 7.5% point jump in K% (14.7% to 22.2%). His entire plate discipline values worsened. Here are his swing and contact values for 2012 compared to his career averages:

Plate Disipline 2012 Career
O-Swing% 36% 34%
Z-Swing% 70% 67%
O-Contact% 62% 64%
Z-Contact% 86% 88%
SwStr% 12% 10%

In every category, he degraded. He swings at more pitches and makes contact less of the time. If his AVG is to get back to the .300 level, he will need to get the K% below 20%.

The biggest issue for Morales going forward for 2013 is playing time. The Angels have Pujols who will be playing everyday at 1B or DH if healthy. Morales is only a 1B or DH so he will have the other spot. The problem is that the Angels will want Mark Trumbo also in the lineup. The experiment of playing him at 3B failed, so he ended up at 1B, DH and one of the corner OF positions. Trumbo may be in the OF with Trout and Wells, or he could be competing at 1B and DH with Morales.

Besides Trumbo taking away time, Morales could lose starts at DH if another player on the Angels needs to DH because of an injury. Tracking Morales’s playing time will be key to his value.

If given 600 PAs in 2013, Morales should hit around 0.275 with 25 HRs. These value are down from his pre-injury numbers because of an increasing K% and declining FB%. The biggest key for Morales’ value in 2013 is the amount of playing time he accumulates in 2013.