Apr 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Michael Morse (38) doubles in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
On the surface, Mike Morse may seem like a rather overrated, injury prone left fielder. A slugging batter, who has been useless ever since he had a big breakout year with the Washington Nationals. However, I believe there is more than what meets the eye with Morse and that he could truly be on for a big year with the San Francisco Giants.
The marriage of maths and baseball is a beautiful one. I will use sabermetrics to look deeper into the machine that is Mike Morse. His walk percentage currently sits at 8%, which has elevated from the 6% it was last year. Again, his strikeout percentage is currently 24%, one percent lower than it was last year. His walk to strikeout ratio – which is 0.33 – is a career best, even better than when he broke out with the Nationals. Although these numbers don’t make Morse an all-star, they do show he is seeing the ball well. If he can get his bat swinging, he could be a scary hitter to face.
Whilst we are only eight games into the season, his slash line is very impressive, sitting at .391/.440/.609. Evidently, this will lower as the season progresses, but it is a very promising sign for ‘Double M’s.’ His isolated power has plenty of room for improvement clocking in at .217 – a 0.5 increase from last year – but again, is very encouraging.
His ground ball percentage, 41%, is at a career low, a few percent lower than usual. His fly ball percentage, 35%, has returned to normal. Lastly, his home run to fly ball percentage is a little too low, sitting at 16.7%. These numbers are a little low, however they don’t worry me in the slightest. Given how well Morse is seeing the ball, once his bat officially gets going these numbers will go only one way, up. In a quick calculation based on his at bats, fly ball percentage and home run to fly ball percentage, right now, I calculate for him to be hitting around 29 home runs – providing he stays healthy.
His win probability added is currently 0.69, meaning he currently contributes positively to the team. He is hitting 0.24 in clutch situations, which is a career high for the slugging outfielder. Again, like most of his stats, these aren’t amazing or all-star quality, but once his powerful bat truly gets into motion, expect these stats to mushroom.
In terms of pitching, things aren’t great for Morse. Morse hits changeups the best, however in the National League he is seeing about 2% less of changeups. On the other hand, he is seeing a lot more cutters, which typically he has hit very well.
Finally, plate discipline. As I previously mentioned, Morse is seeing the ball very well and this evident in his swinging percentage. He is swinging at around 35% of pitches outside of the strike zone, a 3% drop from previous years. He is also swinging at 75% of pitches inside the strike zone, a 5% increase from his career year in 2011. The rest of the stats follow the trend. He is making much, much more contact and seeing pitches inside the zone much, much better.
All considered, I love Morse’s new game. He appears to be a much better hitter, seeing pitches well and making contact. Don’t worry about the power, either, it’ll come. Watch for Morse to have a big year, even if he doesn’t emulate his 2011 success, he is still a massive upgrade from Gregor Blanco.