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The season that was: Kendrys Morales

A look at Morales’ 2018 season

Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Kendrys Morales’ first season with the Blue Jays was less than a success.

He did hit 28 home runs. But the .250 BA and .445 slugging was less than were less than we expected.

We had some hope that moving from the rather large Kauffman Stadium to the much more offensive friendly Rogers Centre that there would be a boost in his numbers. It didn’t happen.

This year, coming into spring training, he had glasses and we were told it would help him identify breaking balls. He didn’t have the greatest of springs, hitting .241/.290/.362 with 1 home run.

The season turned out to be a very slightly better version of his 2017 season.

Standard Batting
130 471 413 47 103 15 0 21 57 2 3 50 95 .249 .331 .438 .769 112
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/11/2018.

Baseball Reference has him at a 0.8 WAR, up from last year’s -0.2. Fangraphs wasn’t as happy at 0.2 (up from -0.6 last year), giving him a value of $1.5 million to the Blue Jays.

He had a .329 wOBA and a 108 wRC+.

Compared to last year, Kendrys walk rate was up (10.6%, from 7.1%) and strikeout rate slightly down (20.2%, from 21.7%).

His line drive rate was much the same (18.0%, from 18.5%), ground ball rate down (45.8%, from 48.4%) and fly ball rate up (36.2%, from 33.2%). Slightly fewer of his fly balls left the park (17.9%, from 19.7%).

His BABIP was much the same (.272, from .278), likely having something to do with his speed (or lack thereof).

Kendrys hit RHP (.274/.366/.495) much much better than LHP (.199/.258/.324). Last year he hit lefties (.362/.401/.598) much better than right-handers (.216/.280/.400). I don’t know why it would flip.

He hit much better at home (.281/.366/.486) than on the road (.217/.326/.389). Last year there was almost no difference.

With RISP he hit .245/.331/.396.

He hit about the same in the first half (.246/.320/.436) as the second half (.254/.346/.441).

Kendrys by month:

  • April: .160/.259/.240 with 1 homer in 17 games.
  • May: .233/.291/.411 with 3 home runs in 22 games.
  • June: .277/.326/.482 with 4 home runs in 25 games.
  • July: .338/.459/.574 with 4 home runs in 22 games.
  • August: .253/.323/.563 with 9 home runs in 25 games.
  • September: .192/.295/.212 with 0 home runs in 19 games.

He had a horrible start to the season and then turned it around. The poor numbers at the end of the season might have something to do with the drop in playing time. He seems to do best with regular at bats.

He started 17 games at first base, made just 1 error, I didn’t think it was terrible at the position. And he had the 1 inning at third, thankfully nothing was hit in his direction.

Fangraphs has him at a -5.4 runs compared to the average baserunner, which, surprisingly was the 3rd worst on the team (Solarte and Smoak beat him out). He had 2 steals and 3 caught. I’m pretty sure 2 of the caught stealing were on blown hit and run plays. One was a first and third double steal attempt that didn’t work. I was told that Cito didn’t even have a sign for the hit and run, which might go a bit too far, but I’m hoping the next manager uses it rarely.

Where did Kendrys hit in the batting order:

3rd: 10 times.

4th: 43 times.

5th: 25 times.

6th: 14 times.

7th: 15 times.

8th: 1 time.

His longest hitting streak was 10 games. Longest on base strike 17 games. Longest stretch without a home run was 22 games.

And of course he had the 7 game home run streak.

The Jays were 44-64 in his starts.

Kendrys favorite team to hit against? He hit .471/.550/1.059 with 3 homers in 7 games against the Angels.

Least favorite? He hit .000/.077/.000 in 5 games against the Astros.

The glasses didn’t last long. I don’t know, I have a hard time believing that seeing better would cause him to hit worse. But, he believed it. And I’ve always thought if someone believed something it works.

Kendrys playing time dropped off as the season went on.

Likely because Edwin was loved (at least in his last few years with the team, not so much in the first few years), Kendrys isn’t loved. Let’s look at the numbers, over the past two years:

Morales: .249/.318/.442 with 49 home runs and a 0.6 bWAR in 280 games.

Encarnacion: .252/.358/.490 with 70 home runs and a 4.7 bWAR in 294 games.

Edwin is making a fair bit more money, but yeah he’s been much better. And I’ll bet Cleveland was hoping for better than 1 for 17 in the playoffs over the last 2 years.

I’m sure the team will shop him around this winter, but I can’t imagine there will be much interest. Though, if you like arbitrary end points....from May 1st to August 31, he hit .273/.349/.508 with 20 home runs.

With this being the last year of his contract, it is possible he’ll be released at some point.

But then, everyone says how great he is in the clubhouse and how good he is with the younger Spanish speaking players and that might not be a bad thing with Vlad joining the team.

The team has a ton of decisions to make before the Rule 5 draft. And I wouldn’t mind them having the DH spot open to rest players.

I have no idea what I’d do if it was my choice. I think try my damnedest to try him, and release him if I couldn’t. But then I guess for me it isn’t complicated by having signed him to the contract and I wouldn’t have to go to my bosses saying ‘yeah, I screwed up’.