Something funny happened in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Red Sox. The Blue Jays, down by one, had Yangervis Solarte on first base with catcher Russell Martin at the plate. Martin ripped a 1-0 offering from Sox reliever Matt Barnes down the line and into the shady left field corner, starting a perfect relay from Andrew Benintendi to Xander Boegarts to Christian Vazquez to nab a less-than-fleet-footed Solarte at home plate.
The play itself was a pretty standard relay to cut down a slow runner at home. At no point was Solarte even close to scoring; it would have taken a botched throw somewhere along the line for Boston to not record the out. The real show happened moments later on Twitter, where, uh…look!
Before anyone gets upset with Luis Rivera for that send - how do you possibly hold up Solarte there with Kendrys Morales coming up? Make them make the throws. #Bluejays— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) May 13, 2018
This isn’t a slight to Mike Wilner or anybody else that tweeted something of the like, it’s just that Kendrys Morales is now getting the Ryan Goins treatment. Ryan Goins! Just in case you forgot, Goins slashed .228/.275/.335 over five seasons as a Blue Jay, which is an improvement over 2018 Kendrys Morales and his .525 OPS. Morales’ job title is “guy that only hits” and the people that follow the team still don’t trust him to knock a runner in with two outs! If there’s a line between DFA and 25-man that doesn’t involve money (or uh, the future long-term defensive development of a 19-year-old), we’re well on the other side.
This would be easier to swallow if Morales was actually good last year. If you’re a proponent of good ol’ homeruns and RBI, you probably didn’t notice that the slugger was kind of horrific in 2017. In this entire decade, of all hitters with at least 25 home runs (he had 28), Morales’ OPS+ ranked eigth-worst at 94, behind guys like 2017 Mike Napoli, 2016 skeleton Ryan Howard, 2010 Aaron Hill, and 2017 human waste bin Rougned Odor. For reference, the league average OPS+ is 100. Morales, at this point, is a one-trick pony that is unplayable when he’s not leaving the yard consistently.
In 2018, Kendrys Morales’ exit velocity is up 2.6 MPH from his 91.7 mark last year, but his ground ball rate has reached alarming levels. Between the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Morales hit ground balls only 44.6% of the time as a member of the Kansas City Royals. Last season, that number went up to 48.4%, and to start 2018, his ground ball rate is at 53.7%. His line drive rate has fallen significantly in that span as well, and as a result, so has his offensive production. In this era of information and shifting, you can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if it’s on the ground a lot and you’re – how do I put this diplomatically? – a thick fellow like myself, you won’t be touching much green.
He admitted that he doesn’t pay much attention to the media due to the language barrier, so I really feel for the guy, but this signing has been an absolute disaster. Justin Smoak filled the void that Edwin Encarnacion left, but then Morales replaced the shitty Smoak that we were accustomed to seeing, this time with the same job security but a lot more money. It’d be hard to imagine the Blue Jays don’t cut their losses with him if this extends throughout the summer – even with them owing him $12M next year – and if actually being a player in the wildcard race is still in the fold for them, they just might have to. Besides, who knows, maybe watching Morales flail at pitches in the dirt means that we get to see our large adult son sometime this year.
By the way, he hit another dinger yesterday.