It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Kendrys Morales' RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 103 by Bill Dubiel, and No. 208 by Kyle Bishop.
Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks.
Editor's note: Check out our previous rankings debates on Jose Ramirez, Trea Turner, J.D Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Bryce Harper, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, Jonathan Villar, Kenta Maeda, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Marcus Stroman, Jackie Bradley, and Xander Bogaerts.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Kendrys Morales
Kyle Bishop's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 208
Friends, the true measure of a man is when he admits that he is wrong. Eagle-eyed readers will note that I lag far behind my colleagues in the ranking of Morales. I admit that I was too harsh, and our upcoming March update will reflect that.
However! I submit to you that Bill has wandered too far on the opposite end of the spectrum. What, pray tell, can justify putting Morales ahead of Adrian Gonzalez, who has been a better player for basically their entire careers? Gonzalez struggled last season, but still had comparable run production and also outhit him by 20 points. Yes, Morales had a dozen more homers. But Gonzalez averaged 26 per year in the previous three, and after he recovered from a back issue, his ISO jumped by 60 points in the second half.
I get that Morales is moving to a much friendly home park and a better lineup in Toronto, but just like shooting Jesse James don't make you Jesse James, he's not going to become Edwin Encarnacion just because he's replacing him. Fun fact: Morales had identical home and road OPS marks both of his years in Kansas City. He hit 22 home runs at home and 30 on the road.
Morales is 33. We know what he is at this point. More importantly, we know what he isn’t – a borderline top 100 player.
Bill Dubiel's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 103
Kendrys brings the thunder. Plain and simple. If you take the baseline he's established over the last two seasons and toss it into the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, I see nothing but positive gains. Let's take a gander at the raw power--in 2015 and 2016 with the Royals, Morales averaged 156 games played and an ISO right around .200. As far as counting stats went, we're looking at around 26 homers a year, to go along with 99 RBI and 72 runs scored. Morales put up those numbers in Kansas City (the 15th-most hitter-friendly park) with a lineup that...well, they weren't the Jays.
Now, Morales will play his home games in the fourth-most hitter friendly park in the majors, and hit behind Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista. I don't think it's out of the question to project Morales for 30 homers, 110 RBI and somewhere near 80 runs scored assuming he can play 150+ games.
One might argue that Morales' batting average was less-than-stellar last year, and they'd be correct. His .263 was certainly a bit disappointing, but I'll point to his .283 BABIP as a sign that there is some positive regression on the way. He should be much closer to a .280 batting average this year if he can get just a bit more lucky.
No, Kendrys Morales is not Edwin Encarnacion. But he is most certainly a capable enough hitter to thrive in the terrific position he's going to be in for 2017. I may even be a bit low on him at this point.