Michael Morse Player Projection No. 43

Key Stats: Mike Morse is took an eye opening spring training in 2011 and carried that through the season, finishing with a .303/.360/.550 line and 31 HR’s. People were acting as if this had come out of nowhere, but in 2010 he hit 15 HR’s and batted .289 through 266 AB’s in 98 games. While 98 games is a bit more than half a season, 266 AB’s is certainly half of what a full time starter should accumulate through a season. Projecting his 2010 line across the full schedule brings him back to 30 HR’s and gives him 82 RBI. Dating back to 2009, his ISO’s have been .231, .229, .247.

Skeptics Say: Before he was smashing balls in DC, he was “struggling” in 3 years of part time action with the Mariners, hitting only 3 HRs in 104 games. True, the power never showed in the bigs until he moved to the capital, but in the minors his ISO’s were consistently in the .155-.218 range While those aren’t spectacular they’re far from poor. I would also like to point out that even though Morse wasn’t mashing in the bigs in the early part of his career, he was still posting solid averages and exceptional BABIPs (career .296 and .346, respectively). Morse may not have been the baseball superstar that we drool over and hold a countdown to their the call up, but players developing power late isn’t anything we aren’t already accustomed to. Exhibit A. being Jose Bautista. David Ortiz didn’t show his power until he was 28. Morse fits that kind of profile, this being his age 30 season.

Peer Comparison:  Let’s continue to look at Bautista. He came out of nowhere to hit 54 bombs in 2010. People called it a fluke, then he regressed to 43 the next year. Before that, he never hit more than 15 in a full season, and his batting averages were way worse than Morse’s. I’ve referenced the isolated power stats for Morse being in the mid to high hundreds, and that is where Bautista was in the years before his home run explosion. Both players have comparable HR/FB rates, but Bautista hits the ball in the air more, leading to more HR’s but lower averages, while Morse hits it in the air about 10% less, but lines the ball more consistently, giving him the edge in avg. People can be skeptical about Morse and call his power flukey, but I can’t. I made the mistake of dismissing Bautista when he had no prior history of the power display he put on. Morse previewed the power for us in 2009 (half of his 13 hits in 2009’s 32 game cameo were of the extra base variety), gave us more in 2010, then put it all together in 2011. How can that just be dismissed? 

Lineup Outlook: The Nats are an exciting young team and figure to be playing competitive games from start to finish this year. They may not be a play off team, but they aren’t pushovers. With a lineup featuring Morse, a healthy Zimmerman, Werth, and rising stars Ramos and Espinosa a year older, plus the potential that Bryce Harper has, Washington should be a fun team to watch.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline – #22 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com – #24 Outfielder & #78 Overall; RotoChamp – #53 Overall; Mock Draft Central- #9 1B and #82 Overall

Projection: I’ve been drafting Morse for 1B this year in the Mocks I’ve done and in both leagues I grabbed him in the 4th round, which I admit is early, but if you like a player you can’t be afraid to reach for him. ADP only takes you so far.

.290 AVG, 30 HR, 88 RBI, 60 Runs, .340 OBP and a .860 OPS in 520 AB’s.