Kendry Morales had a breakout 2009 season but what can the Angels expect from him in 2010? Will K-Mo come back to earth or blossom into a true franchise player?
2009 Stats: 566 AB, .306 AVG, 86 R, 34 HR, 108 RBI, 3 SB, .924 OPS
2010 Bill James Projections: 572 AB, .294 AVG, 80 R, 29 HR, 98 RBI, 2 SB, .857 OPS
2010 Chone Projections: 465 AB, .286 AVG, 63 R, 22 HR, 78 RBI, 2 SB, .826 OPS
2010 Marcel Projections: 469 AB, .294 AVG, 68 R, 24 HR, 80 RBI, 4 SB, .877 OPS
2010 ZiPS Projections: 499 AB, .287 AVG, 64 R, 21 HR, 78 RBI, 1 SB, .818 OPS
2010 Monkey Projections*: 575 AB, .300 AVG, 90 R, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 2 SB, .950 OPS
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com except the Monkey Projections which are strictly based on my own knowledge, logic and intuition.
2009 Review: Morales was handed the starting first baseman job leading into 2009 even though it wasn’t fully clear if he really deserved it. But with Mark Teixeira running off to New York for a big payday the Angels had no choice but to use Kendry. That turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to the Halos. Morales not only held his own as an everyday player for the first time, but he all but topped Mark Teixeira’s offensive production and became a fringe MVP candidate along the way.
3 Questions for 2010:
- Is the power for real? There are all sorts of theories as to whether or not Kendry’s 34-homer season was the genuine article or not. It is hard not to blame people for doubting Kendry since he never hit more than 22 homers in a single season of his minor league career. Then again, Morales absolutely crushed a number of his home runs in the way that only real sluggers can power a pitch out of the park. This is a crucially important issue though as the Angels need to have a legit big bat in their line-up if they want to contend for a title.
- Can Kendry hold his own against lefties? Kendry hit .296 against lefties last year, but only 4 of his 34 homers came against southpaws. If Morales really wants to be considered an elite player he is going to have to show some more power when swinging from the right-handed batter’s box.
- Where in the order will he hit? The scary thing about Kendry last season was that he put up such great numbers despite hitting fifth or sixth most of the season with the likes Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick as his protection. Just imagine what he could do with more potent hitters backing him up? The question is will Mike Scioscia let it happen. Morales should be batting third or fourth based on his 2009 numbers, but Sosh might defer to the veteran experience of Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui instead and keep Morales stuck in the five-hole where pitchers will be more inclined to pitch around him.
2010 Preview: In case you can’t tell from my projections, I like me some Kendry. The funny thing about him is he is the first guy all the Angel detractors point to as the biggest reason the Halos will fall off this season. Everyone seems to think Morales’ breakout season was some kind of fluke, especially in the power department. This argument holds no water though because all the same people who question his power surge in 2009 because he never hit for big power in the minors were the same people who were always saying that his power will eventually come around and that he is such a great talent. You can’t have it both ways. I choose to believe that we all saw the real Morales last year and that he is only going to continue to develop into an MVP-caliber player and the center of the Angel franchise for years to come.