Kendrys Morales signed a three year, $33 million pact with the Blue Jays early this offseason. Many criticized the signing then, and have criticized it even further after Encarnacion’s and the rest of the 1B/DH market did not develop as anticipated. Nonetheless, Morales is leaving for a better fantasy situation.
Could he break out in the AL East like Mark Trumbo did last year? This piece will analyze data from three similar scenarios, and data from Baseball Savant, to answer that question.
As Morales is not a stolen base threat, this article will solely focus on the other four categories.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Comparison 1: Trumbo in Anaheim (2011-2013) vs. Morales (2009-2012) in Anaheim 162 Game Averages
Morales and Trumbo both played in Anaheim during similar timeframes. Morales’ time in Anaheim was marred by an infamous injury, but after becoming a full-time player, he played all of 2009, a portion of 2010, and most of 2012 at ages 25-29. Trumbo likewise had three seasons, ages 25-27, after becoming a full-time player. We will thus compare their stats from their time in Anaheim, which were fairly similar on 162 game averages, and use Trumbo’s AL East stats to project Morales’ potential AL East stats.
Baltimore is +11% in homers for righties (according to baseballmonster.com, which is the source for all park factors used herein). Toronto is +11% for homers generally (as Morales is a switch-hitter). Thus, their home parks should be equal for homers.
Comparison 2: Josh Donaldson in Oakland (2013-2014) vs. Morales (2015-2016) in Kansas City 162 Game Averages
Another comparison is Josh Donaldson’s two years prior to Toronto in a pitchers’ park (-6% for righty homers) versus Morales’ two years prior to Toronto in a pitchers’ park (-11% for homers). Toronto does give righties more of a boost (+13%) than hitters generally (+11%), but Morales still comes out slightly ahead when considering their prior parks. One meaningful difference is Donaldson’s last two years were at ages 29-30, whereas Morales’ will be 33-35, but it’s not clear the difference in drop-offs from 28-30 should be too much different than from 33-35 (see http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/component-changes-in-new-hitter-aging-curves/). Thus, we take their numbers in their two years prior to Toronto to project Morales’ Toronto stats.
|TWO YEARS PRIOR TO TORONTO|
As you can see, their 162 game averages prior to Toronto were very similar. Moreover, so were their home/road homer splits. Morales hit 22 home and 30 away, whereas those numbers were 24 and 29 for Donaldson.
Morales and Saunders both played in Seattle in 2013, but I am choosing to use Morales’ more recent numbers for comparison as he only played one season in Seattle, and it was four seasons ago. I will compare Saunders’ three seasons prior to joining Toronto (ages 25-27), since he only played 204 games in 2009-2011, to Morales’ two seasons in Kansas City. This comparison is a little trickier, because Seattle moved in the fences after 2012, and is now +6% for lefty homers. Nonetheless, I felt a third comparison necessary lest the projections get too lofty otherwise. Their pre-AL East 162 game averages are not as similar as the others.
|PRIOR TO TORONTO|
Combining the Projections
Because multiple data points are better than one, the below table averages the three projections above, and then gives Morales a 10% discount for games played (as the numbers were based on 162 game averages).
|10% discount for games||.289||37||85||104|
Baseball Savant’s Statcast Data
Baseball Savant’s spray chart data and park maps indicate Morales likely would have hit 37 homers in 2016 had all his games been in the Rogers Centre. While Morales will only play half his games at home, and thus the park boost may not be as large, the other four parks in the AL East are an average of +4.25% for homers whereas the four road parks in the AL Central were +2.5%. Thus, the spray charts and park factors also predict a power jump.
The projections above, based on three cherry-picked players who broke out, feel a bit lofty to me. Moreover, I did not factor age into the calculations, or the fact that Kansas City was better for batting average than Seattle or Oakland (upon which two comparisons were based). Loosely adjusting for these factors, I think a .270 average with 30+ homers, 100 RBIs and 80 runs is perfectly reasonable, and there is room for further upside. Thus, Morales is being rated far too low and could be this year’s Trumbo, who was one of my breakout candidates last year.