Mar 13, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Bryan Petersen (11) dives back safely as Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) receives the throw at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Marlins 2012 Season Preview: Left Field

Before we get started, here is a look back at the Miami Marlins 2012 season previews that we have done so far:

Today we roll on with the season preview as the Marlins match-up with the New York Mets, again. Now that we have finished up our work with the infield, it is time to take a look at the Marlins outfield. The Marlins outfield has a ton of talent in 2012, even after missing out on Yoenis Cespedes.

Today we will start with the Marlins left fielder, Logan Morrison. Morrison is a highly talented player, whose value is being wasted in left field.

Mar 13, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison (5) puts the ball in play against the Atlanta Braves at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Depth Chart

  1. Logan Morrison
  2. Bryan Petersen
  3. Scott Cousins
  4. Austin Kearns
  5. Aaron Rowand

Morrison is gearing up to be the Marlins starting left fielder for the second consecutive season. Last season, Morrison had a perceived sophomoric slump type of season. The club is confident that Morrison could have a bounce back season at the plate. There is still a lot of problems with Morrison and his defense in left, which could diminish his value as an overall player. More on that in a bit.

Morrison had a strong rookie season in 2010. He showed excellent approach at the plate and showed great discipline for a young player. To begin the 2011 season, it seemed that Morrison was building on his rookie season and getting a lot better. However, he then proceeded to go into a major slump. Here are a look at his splits from last season:

Morrison PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP
April-May 2011 143 .320 .406 .574 .356
June-September 2011 382 .221 .301 .429 .232

Combine his constant Tweeting, bad mouthing management, and his struggles at the plate, the Marlins optioned Morrison down to Triple-A for 10 days in August. The move was very unpopular with both the fans and the media, but I still feel like the Marlins did the right thing. I am probably in the minority in that feeling.

Sept 7, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Florida Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison (20) makes a catch during the first inning against the New York Mets at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

A look at Morrison’s BABIP explains a lot of his struggles. In his rookie season in 2010, Morrison posted a .351 BABIP. His fast start in 2011 had his BABIP at .356. That fell all the way down to .232 from June to the end of the season. Bad luck played a significant role in his 2011 struggles.

Logan Morrison in 2010 posted a massive walk rate, but in 2011, as expected, that walk rate went down. However, it should be noted that Morrison’s plate approach did not get any worse.

Morrison Swing% Contact% Zone Swing% Outside Swing% Zone Contact% Outside Contact%
2011 39 83 57 24 89 68
2010 36 81 55 20 89 68

Morrison was not doing anything to hurt his overall plate approach. He swinging rates were the same as they were in his 2010 rookie season. The Marlins should still expect great plate discipline from LoMo in 2012.

How about Morrison’s power? Was that a fluke or is that something Marlins fans can look forward to in 2012 and beyond? Here is a good idea of what to expect from Michael Jong from Fishstripes:

The power increase was a pleasant surprise for Morrison, as this was the one question most people had about him going into the majors. He responded by posting a .221 ISO and bashing 23 home runs. However, we should also expect to temper some of that home run power, as he hit those homers while maintaining a similar fly ball rate as his 2010 version. Naturally, he is not likely to hit home runs at a HR/FB rate of 18 percent; to get a perspective, players like Miguel Cabrera (18.8 percent), Adam Dunn (18.4 percent), and Adrian Gonzalez (18.4 percent) hit dingers at a similar rate since 2009, and I do not believe that Morrison is as strong at the plate as any of those hitters.

Yes, some of the power Morrison showed should be sustainable, but do not expect him to be hitting home runs at the same rate as those guys. They are superior in their power ability to Morrison.

How about Morrison’s defense? I will let Michael explain what we should expect from that:

Indeed, we could maybe split the difference between ZiPS and Steamer and get a projected .361 wOBA. The question now becomes how will Morrison perform defensively. UZR and TotalZone both have Morrison as a major negative contributor on defense, and this is not surprising given his lumbering frame and some of the things we as fans have seen over the last year and a half. Other systems, however, such as DRS and Baseball Prospectus’s FRAA, have Morrison as closer to a three- to four-run offender at the position over a given season. My personal opinion in watching him play is that he is an atrocious left fielder, but the Fans have suggested that he is merely bad rather than unbearable. FanGraphs fans, on the other hand, were asked to put a number on Morrison’s defense and said that he would be worth nine runs worse than average in 2012.

How do we reconcile all of these differences? We will split the difference and call him a true-talent -10-runs defender over a season. When we add up all of these contributions, what do we get?

Morrison’s defense in left field is short of unbearable in my opinion. He can make some plays, but not all the plays. The Marlins are not going to be killed by Morrison’s defense in 2012, but it can be something that holds them back and could be the difference between the Marlins being a contender or a pretender.

Overall, Marlins fans should expect Morrison’s BABIP to jump back up and his power numbers to down. Here are a look at some projections for Morrison in 2012:

Projection PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA WAR HR
Bill James 507 .265 .363 .475 .361 1.5 18
Roto Champ 614 .271 .365 .499 .373 2.6 25
Fans 589 .278 .360 .492 .375 3.3 22

All three projections like Morrison’s chances of maintaining his decent approach at the plate and some of the power that he displayed last season. The Fans of course seem the most optimistic and Bill James is very down on his batting average and seems to believe Morrison will miss significant time with an injury or demotion, it seems like.

 

Feb 27 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: Miami Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison (5) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

Now here is a look at my projections for Morrison in 2012:

Projection PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA WAR HR
570 .270 .369 .467 .365 2.8 23

My projections are right in line with the rest of the projections. Morrison would actually add on an additional win or two if he were properly positioned at first base or even played just average defense in left field. That is how much value the Marlins are losing from Morrison by having him play left field instead of his natural first base. That and the fact that Morrison is more likely to aggravate his knee coming off of knee surgery in left field.
As for the backups, I expect Bryan Petersen to get the majority of the time in left field if something were to happen to Morrison. I also believe that Austin Kearns will make the team and get a few spot starts here and there. Overall, with Morrison’s strong bat, the Marlins left field situation is good for now. In the future, it will be even more necessary to move LoMo to first, but he and the team should be fine in 2012.

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Tags: Adrian Gonzalez Austin Kearns Bryan Petersen Logan Morrison Miami Marlins Miguel Cabrera New York Mets Scott Cousins

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