Comparing Stanton, Morrison, and Heyward

Reader Isiah responded to my post regarding Mike Stanton and his improvement with a very positive take on Stanton and a slightly negative take in comparison on Jason Heyward, the outstanding second-year outfielder for the Atlanta Braves. With Logan Morrison also playing extremely well, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at a comparison of the three players who were part of an outstanding class of top rookies to debut in 2010.

Player PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA fWAR rWAR
Stanton 495 .258 .329 .511 .361 3.4 3.4
Morrison 353 .291 .397 .482 .385 2.2 1.5
Heyward 754 .271 .385 .460 .373 5.6 5.2

Just looking at these numbers, it’s tough to say any one of those hitters is “clearly” better than the other. Of the three, Morrison has done the best so far in his career, but the figures aren’t all that far away from each other, and Morrison has played the least over the course of his career. Heyward, who has had the most experience, has looked the best through his rookie year, but has “struggled” a bit down to a .361 wOBA so far this season. Clearly, however, fans of any team would be happy with any of these three players on their team when it comes to their bats.

Player K% BB% XB / H BABIP
Stanton 30.5 8.7 0.983 .327
Morrison 17.7 14.4 0.655 .349
Heyward 20.4 14.3 0.707 .321

Looking at the early peripherals results, one thing that comes to mind is that Heyward looks a little like a blend between the two players, with a little more power than Morrison but a BABIP more like Stanton’s. Of the three, Heyward’s stats appear to be most appealing, as his combination of walks and slightly better power should yield better results. Stanton, on the other hand, appears to have the highest upside, a claim that I have made for some time. The power Stanton is showing is rare; very few major leaguers reach that sort of strength, and with only a modest, somewhat sustainable BABIP (from 2008 to 2010, 30 players reached a BABIP of .327 or better among qualified batters) and some improvement in his walk rate, he could be better than both of these players.

Where is the ceiling for Morrison and Heyward, who appear to be most similar to each other among the three players? Both need to develop more power, and it is possible that Morrison has the better approach at the plate compared to Heyward, though it seems like it is a bit too early to tell. It does appear Heyward swings and misses more often than Morrison (21.4 percent whiff rate versus 18.4 percent), which is indicative in the slight difference in strikeouts between the two players. However, both players feel as if they are more “polished” prospects than Stanton, who came in after a breakout first half in 2010 and looked like a raw player before hitting well in the big leagues. There is an argument that neither Morrison nor Heyward have much more to go in terms of development, but they also say that “power comes last” and Heyward is only 22 years old, about two months older than Stanton.

This is all to say that a year or so into their careers, each of the three players are at about the same place as I had them when they were just getting started in the majors. I would put Heyward and Stanton at this point as a tentative 1a and 1b choice, with neither of them having an edge. Morrison, in part because of the fluky-looking BABIP and the poor outfield defense, ranks well behind the two, but should still be a valuable contributor for years to come. It’s an exciting time to start being a fan of baseball right now, because there are so many great, young ballplayers to latch onto for the next ten or fifteen years.

What do you Maniacs think? If you had to choose one of these three guys, which one would you rather have on your team?

Topics: Jason Heyward, Logan Morrison, Miami Marlins, Mike Stanton

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  • Isiah

    thanks for shout out, looking back at conine’s numbers, i realize he was not as great as i remmeber him because i only remember his best years in the 90s, when he’d had 850 OPS with average power. but still, as you note, stanton’s ceiling is much higher, plus he’s a better fielder. I also prefer lomo over heyward, but that’s probably due to his personality.

    • Michael Jong

      Isiah,

      As Matt points out above, Heyward is the better athlete in the outfield, so even if they end as similar hitters, Heyward should be more valuable. Plus, you have to put some credit into the work of scouts, who unanimously said he was among the best prospects in baseball. Remember, as polished as Heyward appears, he is still 22 years old this season, same as Stanton.

  • Matt

    I think Morrison and Heyward will likely end up being very similar hitters in their careers. The big difference between them is that Heyward’s a much better athlete who plays premium defense in RF, where LoMo will be average at-best in LF. Heyward also offers more value on the base paths. That’s not to discredit LoMo at all, he could end up like a left-handed version of Kevin Youkilis at the plate (.400+ OBP, 25 HRs a year), but Heyward has multiple-MVP potential written all over him

    • Michael Jong

      Matt,

      I’d agree with you with regards to the similarities between Heyward and Morrison hitting wise. Both have advanced plate discipline and should improve a bit as they get older. Heyward is definitely the better athlete, so he should play plus defense in right field, making him more valuable. I will say this though: if Morrison ever becomes a lefty Youkilis, I’d think that’s deserving of multi-MVP consideration too.