But, there are rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds — and they look a lot like Kendrys Morales.
Yes, he’s old, he runs like a broken cement mixer and his fielding is at the very bottom of his resume. But Morales
has a chance to push his great talent of crushing pitches out of the park all the way up this year with Toronto.
Morales is a slugger, plain and simple. Over his career, he has DH’d and played mostly first, with some outfield work thrown in. His last two seasons with Kansas City say a lot about what he brings to the Blue Jays. He hit 22 homers in the Royals’ 2015 championship season, and 30 last year. Now, remember, Morales
hit a big number of those home runs at KC’s Kauffman stadium — which saw the lowest home run numbers in the AL (besides the mammoth pitcher’s wonderland that is Oakland) in 2016.
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Some of Morales’ highlights from last year show absolutely mammoth centrefield homers at Kauffman. If he can replicate those hits, but learn to direct them for the short corner outfield fences at Rogers Centre, he’ll have a very happy team and fan base behind him. And if the spray chart from his visits to the Blue Jays’ home turf from last year are any indication, he could certainly do that. Here’s Morales’ spray chart from Rogers Centre last year:
A switch-hitting slugger — When was the last time we had a relaible one of those?
did great things for the Jays in 2013 & 2014. His switch slugging was a bright spark amidst a fairly lacklustre couple of seasons. In Cabrera’s healthy 2014 with Toronto, the slugger was worth 3.1 wins above replacement. While Morales has never given the same level of WAR back to KC over the last two years, there’s a chance that having that level of switch-hitting power in the AL East will improve his numbers.
Numbers set to improve in Rogers Centre and the rest of the AL?
The AL East is a hard-throwing, heavy-hitting division. Players that are good at hitting the long ball generally get the advantage of the division's many home-run happy parks. We could soon see Morales raking at Fenway, punching multi-run homers at the short porch of Yankee stadium, on top of all the help the home park could give his numbers.
With spring training underway, fans will start to see how Morales will factor into the team that's taking shape. But his pedigree is filled with heavy hitting, and the Jays are the right team for that kind of offensive talent.