Editors Note: Sorry this is a couple of days late, was supposed to be posted on Thursday.
We continue our Miami Marlins Season Preview series with a look at the team’s new first baseman Michael Morse, who signed a two year, $16 million contract over the winter. Last week, my co-editor Travis Honeycutt went over the best case scenario for Morse, so we’ll look at his worst case scenario now.
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In his article, Travis talked about how Morse’s 2014 campaign, one that resulted in a World Series for the Giants, was similar to his career line. The Marlins are definitely counting on a repeat of those numbers.
2014: .279/.336/.475/.811, .355 wOBA, 133 wRC+
Career: .281/.335/.473/.808, .351 wOBA, 122 wRC+
However, Michael Morse has proven to be a guy susceptible to injuries over the course of his career, playing in 100 games or more in just three seasons. Unlike Garrett Jones, the Marlins worst case scenario with Morse won’t be him having a bad season at the plate, but rather injuries keeping him out for prolonged periods of time.
Morse has posted just one season (2012) where he has posted a wRC+ of less than 100. He slashed .215/.270/.381 and only played in 88 games. The main reason for his struggles that season was due to a low BABIP (.254), nearly 80 points lower than his career mark (.333).
When he’s healthy, Morse will bring a power bat that can only be topped by Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. Last season he had an impressive .196 ISO, playing half his games at the pitcher friendly AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Morse missed time last season due to an oblique injury, missing most of September, the Wild Card Game, and the National League Division Series. He did return in a limited pinch-hitting role in the National League Championship.
In addition to the oblique injury last season, Morse has missed time due to a torn medial meniscus of his right knee (surgery), a torn labrum (surgery), a strained back muscle, and a quad injury. Morse also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist after the 2013 season.
Most of these injuries to Morse were suffered while he was playing in the outfield, so hopefully a full-time role at first base can alleviate some of the injury concerns in 2015.
Although Morse is less likely to get hurt at the less demanding first base, his extensive injury history should still scare you. If he can stay healthy, he is a candidate to have a big season for the Fish, in their attempt to reach the post-season in 2015.
If Morse gets hurt and it affects his play at first base, the Marlins will be in deep trouble. Morse is already a below average first baseman and if he’s slowed down by an injury, his offensive production could be a wash.
Here’s what Travis said about Morse’s defense in his post:
"The move back to first base from playing left field every day expects some improvement defensively, from Morse’s -18 Def rating last year to -12.3 this season (still a terrible number, but not as terrible)."
If he does deal with injuries all season and struggles due to them, the Marlins would have invested in another first baseman that turns out to be a sunken cost, for a two-year span. The team was lucky to unload of Jones this past off-season.
The backups behind Morse, Jeff Baker and Justin Bour, are not exactly the most ideal guys to have playing everyday.
Unlike Jones, who the Marlins questionably signed for his consistency, Morse has actually been consistent throughout his career. He just has to find a way to stay healthy all season. If he does, he’ll be a nice addition to the ballclub.
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