As a fan, I appreciate Logan Morrison and his many talents. But as an objective observer and analyst of my beloved Florida Marlins, I have to put my personal feelings aside and look at both sides of the coin. Recently, LoMo told me that he doesn’t read Florida Marlins blogs, preferring only to read the negative stuff, as it motivates him.
Well then, let me help Logan Morrison in his motivation. I have a few negatives I’d like to share with him, and hopefully he can prove me wrong on these. Put these on your bulletin board LoMo!
The first and most obvious thing I think should be mentioned is Morrison’s defense. He is a natural first baseman, but for the moment that position has been blocked by Gaby Sanchez, who has done a pretty decent job so far for the Fish. Until the team decides which of the two players to keep or permanently signs both for multiple years, Morrison will be playing left field. While all accounts say he would be a positive playing first base, the numbers and the eyes all say negative things about Morrison’s ability to play left field.
UZR had Morrison at -7 runs last season in only 544 innings in left field. That prorated to almost 14 runs below average over the course of a full season. DRS and TotalZone were less harsh, but still rated him as below average. The Fans Scouting Report, based on six fan votes (including myself) rated him as a slightly below average left fielder. In other words, the outside analysts all think that Morrison is not going to be a positive influence on the 2011 team defense, and I am in agreement. In my defensive projections, I had Morrison as a -7 run defender over the course of an entire season, and that sounds completely fair to me. Costing the team seven runs is approximately equivalent to making ten fewer plays than the average left fielder would make. Given his size (he even supposedly gained 10 pounds this offseason, presumably for power purposes) and his known lack of speed, this sort of projection isn’t a stretch.
Honestly, this isn’t much of a negative so much as it is the natural flow of life itself. Everyone regresses to the mean, and Morrison is no different. Last season, he hit .351 on balls in play. In his entire minor league career, Morrison hit .324, and that was facing teams with significantly poorer pitching and defensive capibilities. It is unlikely that he’ll hit that well again against them in 2011, and I suspect that with Morrison’s patient approach, his strikeout rate from last season of about 17.7% seems about right. When you are swinging at under 40% of pitches, you are bound to take some strikeouts alongside a good amount of walks, and I trust Morrison to maintain his great approach. However, it means that his batting average is likely to fall in 2011.
Along with a small drops in walk rate, we can’t expect Morrison to repeat his amazing plate discipline performance from last season exactly. What will eventually make his 2011 season as worthwhile or better than his 2010 extended look will be the regression up in terms of power. Morrison is stronger than someone who hit just two homers in 287 PA, and most projections have him at 12-17 on the season. If he can hit that and maintain a walk rate of around 11-12% and a batting average in the .260-.270 range, he’ll be just as good this season as he was last year. Just be careful not to expect so much “improvement” over last season.
There you go, Logan. You can use this as yet another bit on your bulletin board to convince you to play the best outfield defense of your life. I’m rooting for you to do so, even if I’m not counting on it. Good luck out there.