What's Going On With Logan Morrison?
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsDuring Wednesday night’s Fox Sports North broadcast, Roy Smalley homed in on Morrison’s swing on several occasions during the game. From the side view, Smalley remarked that Morrison’s bat path, which works rearward before coming forward, was long and keeping him from catching up to the Yankees’ velocity. While Morrison may have issues squaring higher velocity this season, Morrison’s swing path is not likely the source of his consternation. For one, it is the same bat path/swing he has employed in the previous season when he jacked 38 home runs and posted a .868 OPS. Second, rearward movement of the barrel happens with all swings – it is just a matter to what degree a hitter rotates the barrel that direction. Even Max Kepler, whose swing Smalley has expressed affinity for, has some degree of loop in his swing.
When you look at Morrison’s peripheral numbers compared to last season, his plate discipline rates are very similar. He is striking out at a similar rate. He is chasing pitches out of the zone at about the same rate. He is making contact at about the same rate. The main difference is that he is swinging more frequently and not making contact on pitches outside of the zone than he did in the past. When you dig deeper, what stands out is his inability to capitalize on fastballs. In 2017, armed with the same swing path as he has this year, LoMo crushed all kinds of fastballs. Last year 21 of his 38 HR were on fastballs. He was crushing heat. This season has been wildly different. He has fouled off a much higher percentage of fastballs (ticking almost 50% of his swings on fastballs). Morrison has put 13 fastballs into play this year and six of those have been infield pop flies. That is significant considering he had just four infield flies on fastballs all of last year. If his overall numbers did not tip you off, this should tell you that something is wrong.
Because of limited video availability, there is not a lot of opportunity to compare Morrison’s swing in 2018 with his swing in 2017. MLBAM does not upload and host side view highlights of players whiffing or lifting pop-ups to second base. FSN, however, was kind enough to provide multiple side view shots. While the camera angles differ slightly (and the low-def quality of my TV combined with the iPhone video capture) may distort the view, what we can discern is that Morrison — compared to last season — is over-striding. This would explain the inability to make solid contact.
Watch Morrison’s lower half as he tries to gain more ground with his front/right leg (L) vs last year ®.
Look how much further apart Morrison’s knees are from each other.
This has all sorts of implications for his swing and why he is just missing squaring fastballs. His eye level can change with the wider stride. His bat path, while similar to last year, is now angled slightly different. His stride timing, a fraction of a second longer now, is disrupted. It can be a domino effect, really.
Why is Logan Morrison swinging this way? He may be attempting to get into his legs more (as Brian Dozier demonstrated during his MLB Network appearances) in hopes of gaining more power. He appears more squat in his stance this season versus last. As noted above, he is swinging more often, particularly at pitches outside the zone, so he may be trying to force his way out of the early season slump. He may be just trying something new to change things up. He may have no idea that he has made changes.
Where does Morrison go from here? The Twins' middle of the order production has been horrendous so the team clearly needs to get Morrison's bat going and going soon. At this point, Morrison can choose to continue with these mechanics, hoping to refine and perfect the timing of this new, longer stride. Or Morrison and the Twins staff could have the conversation about what made Morrison successful a year ago: his upright and shorter, quicker stride.
I won’t pretend to have the answers on this. Morrison could go either direction and struggle or rip off a month of 15 bombs. That said, if I were in charge of trying to get LoMo going, I would start a dialogue about the change in his mechanics, hoping to spur a rapid recovery.
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