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Player Profile #157: Kendrys Morales | 1B | FA

Kendrys Morales had a pretty good year in 2013 for Seattle, but more importantly he was able to stay in the lineup for 156 games. That total was good for the most games he’s played in his career, eclipsing the total of 152 he put up in 2009. It wasn’t 2009, MVP-caliber good, but he has now put up two very solid seasons since his devastating leg injury in 2010.

Year GP BA OBP SLG HR RBI
2009 152 .306 .355 .569 34 108
2010 51 .290 .346 .487 11 39
2012 134 .273 .320 .467 22 73
2013 156 .277 .336 .449 23 80

As his career stats above show, when healthy, Morales can be counted on for a .280 BA, 20 HR, and 80 RBI over 150+ games. If he can put up that kind of production in Seattle, then it shouldn’t really matter where he calls his new home. In fantasy and in real life that’s a pretty useful player albeit a really boring one. In fantasy he fits in perfectly as a utility player and/or backup 1B in standard leagues.

Last season Morales played 122 of his 156 games at DH due to his precipitous decline in defensive skills following his freak leg injury of 2011. When he signs you can bank on it being with an American League team so he can stay off the field. Unfortunately this cuts his market in half right away.

Still hurts to watch, doesn’t it?

There is no denying that he would be an improvement at DH for most clubs as pointed out by Fangraphs’s Mike Petriello in a recent post. His marketability, like Stephen Drew’s, has been destroyed by the qualifying offer that he turned down tying his signing to a forfeiture of a first-round pick.

At A Glance

  • Strengths: HR, SLG
  • Neutral: RBI, BA, OBP, OPS, K, 2B
  • Weaknesses: R, SB, BB, 3B

Players With Similar Fantasy Value

2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection

2014 Projection: 578 PA, .276 BA, 64 R, 24 HR, 76 RBI, 0 SB

Overall Rank: 157 | 1B Rank: 32

With his inevitable move to a full-time DH role Morales lessens his injury risk, which is significant seeing as he’s now 31 years old.

I believe that Morales makes a lot of sense for the Baltimore Orioles, who struggled mightily to get solid production out of their DH slot in 2013. Giving up a draft pick for Morales isn’t ideal, but they are in heavy contention for limited playoffs spots and a farm system that boasts some of the game’s brighter young stars in Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and Eduardo Rodriguez. If any team were to bite the bullet and sign him, they’re the one.

Primarily batting from the left-hand side, Camden Yard’s HR park factor of 131 would benefit Morales greatly. By comparison, Safeco Field’s HR park factor for lefties was 90 and Angels Stadium sat at 88. A move to Baltimore would put him in a good position to surpass our projection of 24 HR.

If you’re team makes a run at the title, it’s unlikely that you’ll be handing Morales the Team MVP award. I like to call this being stuck in the “fantasy friend zone.” To quote my fellow Professor Adam Nodiff from his article on J.J. Hardy, “He’s solid and he will always be there for you, but you will never look at him like he can be anything more than that.” In other words, Morales is good, but he’s probably better utilized as a role player who acts as insurance for one of you high-risk/high-reward picks.

2015 & Beyond

With his inevitable move to a full-time DH role Morales lessens his injury risk, which is significant seeing as he’s now 31 years old. There’s always the risk that he loses 1B eligibility in 2015, but I don’t believe that’s likely unless your league’s games played requirements are strict.

Morales likely has another 2-3 seasons before we start seeing a precipitous decline in his batting skills. He’s a low-cost alternative who should provide you with consistency at least through the 2017 season and possibly longer. I wouldn’t reach past the 14th-15th round for him, but if you do take him at least you know what you’re getting.

In keeper or dynasty leagues you should be able to acquire him for a mid-level prospect or back-end starter. Speaking from experience these “fantasy friend zone” guys are the ones often forgotten about, but are quite useful.

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