The MLB GM meetings are going on right now in Orlando, FL. It seems like every winter the primary topic at these baseball meeting is what will the Marlins do with the players they can’t afford to pay anymore. Marlins GM Dan Jennings has insisted that the Marlins are not trading Giancarlo Stanton but, Ken Rosenthal said this in a tweet earlier today.
Morrison, after Stanton, was most asked about #Marlins player at GM meetings. Teams looking for power, 1B a position of increasing scarcity.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 15, 2013
That Tweet has two theses that teams are looking for power and that “1B is a position of increasing scarcity,” I’ll accept both of those as true for the purposes of this article. But what is puzzling is not that teams need power at 1B but that they see Logan Morrison as the solution.
The graph below shows all 1B with at least 1000 PA in the years between 2010 and 2013 ranked on the basis of their ISO against their BB/K
The players on the top right of the graph are the ones with high ISOs and high BB/K ratios. Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and co. The ones on the bottom right are players with power that also strikeout a lot. Chris Davis, Mike Napoli among others. Morrison in this chart is the exact middle, a guy with fair power and good plate discipline. Which this winter seems to be enough to put a guy like Morrison in the conversation.
The graph above shows players ranked by their wRAA against their Fangraphs defensive value score. Guys on the extreme left of the table are players like Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, Billy Butler either very bad defense first basemen or DHs forced to play first base. Morrison is only slightly better than that at 1B at the moment. He is also on the lower reaches of the offensive production scale. Although his plate discipline again makes him more valuable.
Value is relative, not absolute, and teams value players on lots of factors besides the ones I have given you, like wRAA, ISO Defensive value and so on. Teams still look for “grit” and guys that are “gamers” and that “give up their bodies” and Morrison is certainly that. There is another better explanation, one that leads me too agree with Rosenthal’s tweet. Scarcity.
There are 50 names on that list and a lot of them are unsignable or untradeable. At the moment there are no 28 year old free agent 1B available. It is either a lot really young promising guys under team control like,Freeman, Goldschmidt and Chris Davis. Or old washed up types who are losing their power and are bigger liabilities than assets. Adam Lind, Kevin Youkilis and Carlos Pena. Not to mention the enormous untradeable contracts of superstars and aging superstars.
The market is squeezed and the result is that youngish guys with upside are more likely to be given a shot. If I were the Marlins I would do it and get either proven bullpen help or more young minor league arms. You can never have enough young minor league pitchers.