I really did not like the Blue Jays signing Kendrys Morales. I thought they had contracted him at 3 million years at 33 million. Besides money, there were a number of other factors that made no sense. To make matters worse, that his first half of the contract did not meet the expectations that Blue Jays had for him as a daily DH.
However, Morales seems to have changed his season in recent months. After a terrible start, he now cuts .263 / .341 / .477 with 20 home runs in 393 flat appearances – good for 118 wRC +. In fact, among all designated knights with at least 250 record appearances, Morales ranks 8th in WRC +, slightly better than 1
Earlier this season, his terrible start caused excitement over Blue Jays against DFA Morales, and rightly his WRC + was set to 34 in April followed by 82 in May. Since then he has published numbers above the average of the league every month. Here's what his monthly breakdown looks like for this season (as of August 24).
Morales – Monthly Splits
|Month||PA||HR||AVG.||OBP.||SLG||19659006] ISO||wRC +|
|Month||PA||HR||AVG||OBP||SLG||ISO||wRC +  Mar / Apr||58||1||0.160||0.259||0.240||0.080||34|
|May||79||3||0.233  0.291||0.411  0.178||82|
|Aug||75||7||0.265||0.333  0.574||0.309  143|
His numbers have become better as the year progresses. He not only makes constant contact, he also packs more power and strokes less. His K-rate in the first half of the season was 22.6 percent, while it was 13.8 percent in the second half. For his career, Morales has reached a quota of 18.4 percent.
Since the beginning of the season a lot has changed. For starters, Morales has dropped the glasses he wore at the beginning of the season. In April, Morales reached 55.6 percent ground balls and only 8.3 percent line drive. Since then, its ground ball speed has steadily dropped as the line propulsion rate has increased. The ground ball speed rose again slightly in August. His share of flyballs, however, remained stable over the years. This probably indicates two extreme scenarios: First, earlier in the year, many of his flyballs remained in the ball park, indicating some bad punches. Second, as the year went by, an unsustainable number of flyballs left the ballpark, indicating huge luck.
His statcast numbers are always curious. Even in a bad year like 2017, his xwOBA was .367, this year it's .414, suggesting that he was unlucky. In fact, since 2015, its xwOBA is higher every year than its actual wOBA. Does this indicate that he has been unlucky for 4 seasons or that the xwOBA does not correlate as much with the actual performance as we thought? This is an exercise that I leave for wiser people. What's worth it, its starting speed is the highest since 2015, as well as its running rate.
Morales is a bit of a free swinger and he will increase his share of strikeouts. He will also do double plays. At the risk of sounding clichéd, the key to Morales, like all good guys, is not to hit groundballs. It seems he is quite productive when he is able to hit line drives.
Another aspect of Morales's game, which is frustrating, is that year after year it's hard to tell which side he'd better beat (he's a switch hitter). This year he was terrible from the right side and pretty good from his left side, while it was the other way around last year.
His numbers indicate that he is still a league average or a slightly better bat. In order to remain a viable DH option for the Blue Jays, the league average is not enough for him and he must be consistently 15-20% better than the league. Given its trend, its hit profile and its history, this seems an unlikely scenario for a whole season.
How hot is Morales the rest of the way? I do not know, but it seems his early season fights have been a combination of high ball speed and a bit of bad luck. If there were not $ 11 million for him next year, I'd be sure a team pushing late in the season might find value in trading for him as a power option on the bench. No matter how hot he stays, the 2019 price will keep buyers safe.
Azam Farooqui is contributing to Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @ afarooqui21