Kendrys Morales is a Twin

While I am unsure if Kendrys Morales does indeed have a twin brother, I am sure that he is now the newest member of the Minnesota Twins baseball club organization team. After rumors swirled that teams like the Yankees, Mariners, Rangers, Brewers and Royals had varying levels of interest, the Twins were never mentioned. But perhaps they were the mystery team that was supposedly in the mix.

For those who drafted Morales with the hopes that he would sign shortly after the season started, this was not the ideal destination. Three of the five teams above would have given Morales’ offensive projection a nice boost, while the other two were either the same as his team last year or just as pitcher friendly. Overall, Target Field in Minnesota is neutral, but it’s some of the specific park factors that hurts Morales’ value. Let’s check them out for both righties and lefties since Morales is a switch hitter and compare them to Safeco Field:

Season Team Basic 1B as L 1B as R 2B as L 2B as R 3B as L 3B as R HR as L HR as R
2013 Twins 100 101 102 100 103 100 105 89 97
2013 Mariners 100 101 99 103 103 100 108 96 97

After playing around with the fences in Seattle, the park has become more neutral. Both play exactly neutral in terms of runs scored. The two parks are also identical in allowing singles to lefties, while Target Field is a bit friendlier to righties in that department. Seattle provides a small advantage in doubles to lefties, while the parks are the same for righties. Morales has hit four triples his entire career, so those park factors are rather meaningless.

The big problem arises when we get to the end of the table — the home runs. Bringing the fences in pushed Safeco Field into much more neutral territory. And while Target Field played the same last year for righties, it significantly saps lefty home run power. Since Morales will get the majority of his at-bats as a left-handed hitter, that’s a serious problem.

His xHR/FB rate last year was above his actual mark, and his batted ball distance was actually higher in 2013 than 2012, yet his HR/FB rate tanked. Ignoring the effects of his new digs, I would have expected some bounceback. But Target Field is likely going to take a bit out of any rebound. I think a smaller jump, perhaps to around his career HR/FB rate, might be in the cards.

Possibly just as important though is getting his fly ball rate back into true power hitter range. In his first full season in 2009, his fly ball rate was above 40%, but since, it has peaked at just 32.5%, and actually sat below 30% in 2012. There’s simply no chance he could possibly reach a 30 home run pace given the low fly ball rate.

There’s been no word yet exactly where Morales will bat in the Twins lineup, but you have to assume it will be no lower than fifth. He’s actually in a pretty solid spot to knock in runs as he has some pretty good OBP guys ahead of him in Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and potentially Josh Willingham.

While this may not have been the best landing spot for Morales’ fantasy value, obviously he needs to be picked up in all leagues.



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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


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Bob the Dog
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Bob the Dog

Any thoughts on the impact of Morales’ signing on the playing time of the other Twins?

More specifically, I’m concerned Arcia may not get as many at-bats if Morales is the full-time DH…

tz
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tz

I think Arcia will play if healthy. My guess is Parmalee is the loser here (and of course Kubel)

tz
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tz

btw – Morales joining the Twins actually makes sense for both sides. Who would have thought?

Jeff
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Jeff

Like TZ, I assume it won’t be Arcia who loses playing time: he hada good start last year, and he’s got upside; Parmalee hasn’t done anything special in a while. Plus surely the Twins know that Podhorzer picked Arcia to win the AL HR crown.
I do wonder what happens with the Pinto/Suzuki situation, but what’s more exciting (kinda) is that this is a good lineup at the top.

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