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  • Morneau is steadily improving

    In early July Justin Morneau had been plodding through a season in which he was completely lost at the plate against left-handed pitching.

    Even though his performance against right-handed pitchers was classic Morneausie, against the sinister his swing was basically a clusterbleep. His front side leaking so far open, he was left with little choice but to pull the ball. Left-handed opponents attacked this weakness by throwing more sliders which would run away from his swing zone. He flailed away helplessly as southpaws painted the outer-half of the plate and anything he did manage to put lumber on was typically bounced to the right side of the infield.

    By the end of June his average against lefties had sunk to below .100 and was the worst in baseball. In a little over a month however Morneau has doubled that average - .174 heading in to last night’s game – and, what’s more, his swing has looked 100 times better.

    Last night, the Twins’ Director of Baseball Communications, Dustin Morse, highlighted Morneau’s improvement against same-sided pitchers by tweeting this:



    Now, the answer could be as simple as a small sample size fluctuation and that his suppressed batting average on balls in play was due to shoot up once the Baseball Gods felt like blessing the Canadian. However, just a few weeks before this streak started, Morneau made a noticeable adjustment to his approach at the plate. While this tweak lasted just a handful of games, the Twins first baseman emerged a different hitter.
    Morneau, who had a sizeable stride accompanied by a hearty swing, was hitting just .229/.301/.435 heading into the final June series against the Kansas City Royals when he made the changes. Instead of the leg lift, Morneau would lift only his heel, keeping his toes stationary which would likely increase his connectivity and, more importantly, help him refrain from opening up his front side.

    As I described back in the beginning of July:

    “The rationale behind this alteration seems to be focused on making contact by keeping him from drifting out with his front side. By not having a stride, Morneau’s hips will have less of a tendency to open up. Likewise, by minimizing the movement it allows him to keep his head still and in theory see the ball better.”
    This mechanical adjustment did not last long – somewhere around five games – and Morneau returned to his previous swing on July 5. But this practice seems to have righted the ship and helped him stay on the ball better. In addition to the improved numbers against left-handed pitching, he hit .313/.360/.488 overall in 86 plate appearances (not including last night’s game against Boston). He had gone from striking out in 20% of his plate appearances pre-July 5 to striking out in just 10% of his plate appearances since then.

    In short, Morneau appears to be on the right path both against righties and lefties. Friday night, look for him continue this success against Boston’s rookie lefty Felix Doubront – who has limited left-handed hitters to a .229 average.
    This article was originally published in blog: Morneau is steadily improving started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Let him play out his contract year and see what happens. If you continues to improve throw a 2 year deal at him on the cheap and see if he turns it down. I don't think he does, nor do I think there's a better 1B option in the next 3 years for the Twins.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Let him play out his contract year and see what happens. If you continues to improve throw a 2 year deal at him on the cheap and see if he turns it down. I don't think he does, nor do I think there's a better 1B option in the next 3 years for the Twins.
      Dpes that mean that the Twins move Parmelee...., or Span? Someone will have to go.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Hammer moves to DH and Doumit is your backup C/bench PH bat with Mauer in RF when not catching. Revere in LF and Span in center. Trade Parmelee if need be. It's perfect.
    1. robbie111's Avatar
      robbie111 -
      Can anyone else can find a split for what Morneaus done since the all star break compared to everyone else in baseball. That would be interesting. The thing I am liking is his walk to K ratio recently. Just found his splits .361 ave .406 obp .602 slugging ave 1.008 ops. The other thing I'd like to see is his numbers come up at Target Field. On the road this season he's hitting .301 with a .571 slugging ave and a .928 ops. At home its .250 average, slugging .395 and an ops of .711
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by robbie111 View Post
      Can anyone else can find a split for what Morneaus done since the all star break compared to everyone else in baseball. That would be interesting. The thing I am liking is his walk to K ratio recently. Just found his splits .361 ave .406 obp .602 slugging ave 1.008 ops. The other thing I'd like to see is his numbers come up at Target Field. On the road this season he's hitting .301 with a .571 slugging ave and a .928 ops. At home its .250 average, slugging .395 and an ops of .711
      Morneau since break: .361/.407/.602/1.009

      MLB average for past 30 days: .257/.322/.410/.732
    1. TKGuy's Avatar
      TKGuy -
      I think bringing Morneau back on a 2 year deal would be a good idea. The Brewers need a 1b and CF, maybe we could pry Gallardo away from them who is under team control for three more years while the Brewers are in full rebuilding mode.
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