Thursday, March 01, 2012

Odds are Long on Kendrys Morales Comeback

Bobby Abreu is an unhappy guy right now. His role with the Angels will be diminished since the Angels signed Albert Pujols. The Pujols signing created a domino effect that pushed Mark Trumbo off of first base and into an already crowded outfield picture. The picture gets further complicated by the expected return of Kendrys Morales from an injury saga that resulted on a leap of joy following a walk off home run early in the 2010 season. Morales is being pushed as the designated hitter. But Bobby Abreu should sit tight. To expect any kind of comeback from Morales seems like very long odds.

It is not historically unusual for a player to miss as much time as Morales has and come back to be productive. Heck, during and after World War II, it happened all the time. In more recent times, Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals missed a long time and came back to be a terrific starter for that team. But even so, the injury to Kendrys Morales involved one of his wheels and the guy is only recently getting back to running and will soon test his recovery by running the bases. Does that sound as scary to you as it does here? The legs are the most important aspect of a ball player. A pitcher gets his drive from his legs and the same for a batter. And Morales has had multiple surgeries on his injured ankle. It's one thing to consider running. It's another to consider starting from that far back to actually playing the game.

For fascinating stuff, simply look at projections for Morales for 2012. Bill James is typically bullish. The zen master projects Morales to hit a slash line of, .296/.341/.504 in 141 games played. Holy cow! If Morales could come close to that number of games played and production, the Angels should regain the top spot in the division. But is that realistic? Not from this basement office chair.

ZiPS projections are a bit more cautious. That projection has Morales at, .274/.321/.455 in 87 games. RotoChamp is even more ambitious than Bill James and projects Morales at, .298/.356/.528 in 436 plate appearances. Steamer Projections seem to be the most cautious with a projection of only 246 plate appearances at, .282/.338/.484. To round out our projection field, we end at Baseball Prospectus which has Morales at, .283/.328/.469 in 350 plate appearances.

All these projections listed, even the most cautious, assume that Morales will be able to come back and be immediately close to as effective a hitter as he was before he was injured. The most cautious still thinks he will attain 246 plate appearances while doing so. That seems like a stretch to anyone's imagination. Granted, those people are all smart people. They have all earned the respect they have in the baseball writing and analysis world. But this observer thinks they are all crazy on this one.

First, Kendrys Morales has to prove he can even play baseball again. He hasn't done that yet. So that is still an open question. Secondly, once Morales can prove he can play baseball, to expect him to play close to his former ability after nearly two years of an absence seems a stretch.

Look, we all root for the comeback story and therefore, we all hope that Kendrys Morales can resume what was once a promising career. That career was derailed in one of the freakiest accidents ever to occur on a baseball field. But the reality is that Morales first has to prove he is physically able to play and then prove he can still perform at the high level that all these folks expect. If this writer was a betting man, Bobby Abreu should keep his bat and batting gloves warm in 2012. He's going to need them more than the Angels think.

6 comments:

Joseph Buccellato said...

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William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Sorry, Joseph. Already have commitments writing for three other sites besides this one. One more and they would have to find a room at the asylum.

Mike said...

Very good article. As an Angel fan I've been very interested in the chemistry coming out of Spring Training this year. It has been a long time that this team has had any major shakeups. Hopefully they find a way to gel together and get a good season put together.

Mike

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Thank you, Mike.

Marc the Muzikman said...

William,

I have to say that seemed like lazy reporting to me. It completely ignores that the two surgeries both did different things... the first repaired the injury and the 2nd cleared out scar tissue which was hampering range of motion and causing cramping. In other words the injury has long since healed.

Its like youre in a bubble where you only look at numbers and project off of that. Well Kendrys isnt a number... He is a person and like everyone else his situation is different than those who came before and will be different from those to follow.

Everyone who has seen him swing a bat is awed by what he can already do in the batters box... the new Angels front office team including Jerry DiPoto said they had only read about him but were blown away by what they saw... Albert Pujols in his own way also echoed how excited he is to have Kendrys in the lineup with him (really saying I cant wait to have him protecting me in the lineup)

It makes me crazy how so many people keep using the same flawed logic and flawed statistical interpretation and feel justified that so many others agree with them... well when you are all using the exact same sources and same flawed analysis, its not surprising you will come up with the same flawed findings.

I think Kendrys will probably be eased into baseball and maybe not play every day initially... but by the allstar break Kendrys will not only be back, he will be the best protection King Albert has ever had.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Interesting comments, Mark. This isn't a case of wanting to be right. The projections are with you. Hope you are all correct. Time will tell.