Michael Morse: Will the Production Continue?

Michael Morse is having his best season ever with 21 home runs and a 0.319 average. The 29 year old has filled in the void left at 1B when Adam Dunn signed with the White Sox this off season. I will look to see if his 2011 season can be duplicated in 2012.

Morse’s has hit as many home runs this season, 21, than in his previous 6 seasons. In his career, he has a 15.3% FR/FB ratio. This season it has increased a bit to 18.4%. In 2010, his average home run and fly ball distance was 300ft. In 2011 it has increased to 307ft.

Besides more fly balls becoming a home run, his OF FB% is up from 29.3% to 31.8%. Not much of a jump, but it is a jump. Morse’s home run increase seems sustainable into next season.

Batting average is the other stat that is making Michael valuable. His 0.319 AVG is 17 points higher then his career average of 0.302. The increase is not caused by more contact. His career K% is 21.1%. His 2011 value is 21.1%.

His BABIP this season is 0.367. This value seems high, but it isn’t that far off his career value is 0.355. Using slash12′s xBABIP formula, his 2011 xBABIP of 0.325 and his career xBABIP would be 0.326. Both of these values are below the actual values, but are still respectable. In 2010, he had a 0.330 BABIP and a 0.289 AVG to go with it.

For 2012, I could see his home run total between 20 and 30 and a 0.270 to 0.320 AVG. With those numbers, he should be drafted and started in all leagues. The stats are not ideal for a fantasy 1B in a shallow league, but Morse should be qualified in the OF in most leagues (27 LF starts this season). He will be a decent OF and can flex to 1B when an injury occurs or a player has a day off.

Michael Morse looks like he can keep up the 2011 production into 2012, with the possible exception of a drop in AVG. He adds great roster flexibility since he is qualified at 1B and OF. There is no reason to avoid him on draft day next year.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

13 Responses to “Michael Morse: Will the Production Continue?”

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  1. Drew says:

    So the super low walk rate… It’s acceptable because his strikeout rate isn’t too too bad, or what? Is he just a Ryan Braun type guy who crushes everything, as opposed to a Jeff Francoeur who fell apart once pitchers adjusted and realized he was going to be hacking away?

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    • Ben says:

      It’s acceptable because he crushes the balls that he does hit. If his power dropped to Frenchie’s level he wouldn’t be nearly so useful. Also despite the low walk rate Morse, while still a free swinger, is not quite the free swinger that Francoeur is. The question isn’t how good is Morse. The question is will he do it again? He did this last year too in a part time role, and you’ve got to figure by this late in his second good season that pitchers would have adjusted.

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      • Morse says:

        Worth noting that opposing pitchers love to pitch him inside, and he tends to get hit by pitches a lot. That should cover up for the low walk rate in OBP leagues.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      For AVG leagues, walk rate is not an issue. I actually stay away from high walk guys because they generally have a lower batting average:

      2006 to 2010

      Average batting average for players with:
      BB% < 5% : 0.268
      Between 5% and 13%: 0.270
      Over 13%: 0.262

      K% is just less balls in play:
      The following formula has an r-square of .81 to predict batting average (or and of the other components):
      AVG = BABIP – (K%*0.2)

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  2. Max says:

    Dude has over 1000 MLB PAs and a wOBA of .369 sustained by a BABIP over .350. At some point he’s gotta be real.

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  3. Lanky Longfoot says:

    Where would you rank Morse among LF’s for next year?

    I’ve got Ellsbury as my LF right now, but he’s going to lose LF-eligibility next year (there’s a UTIL spot with Ellsbury’s name on it.)

    Morse is one of the guys on my team that I’d like to keep, but I’m not sure I’ve got the room.

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  4. OzzieGuillen says:

    Morse’s batting average is 153 points higher than Dunn’s and was probably taken 153 spots below Dunn in drafts.

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  5. Edwincnelson says:

    He’s completely reversed his platoon splits this year and that has probably changed the way pitchers have approached him.

    However, a 78% contact, a 1.8 Speed score, and a 15.9 wFB typically don’t equal a sustainable level of production. In the past RHs beat him inside with good fastballs and Kd him with sliders. This year he Jose Bautista’d his swing and he’s starting his swing early, which has helped him catch up to the FB and provided him great contact %. However, unlike Bautista this guy doesn’t walk, so how long before he stops seeing those pitches? Next year we’ll have to see how he adjusts.

    He looks a little like a bigger Alfonso Soriano to me.

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