Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Bright Future of Logan Morrison

We can't be the only ones who are beyond excited about the prospects of Logan Morrison's future.  Can we?  Sure, his friends and family are thrilled for him.  There are probably about eleven thousand hard core Marlins fans who are psyched about him.  For what it's worth, he has more than 8,000 Twitter followers @LoMoMarlins.

It seems, to me, the national media is letting LoMo fly too far under the radar.*  Nevertheless, just looking at his own team, his rookie teammates, Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez, have gotten the most media attention.  Forgetting American League rookies for a moment, the National League alone has seen an incredible number of outstanding rookies this season.  Here's a list of rookies who've grabbed more headlines than Logan Morrison this season:

*Of course he's under the radar.  He's played just 61 games.

Buster P (media darling)
Jason Heyward
Stephen Strasburg
Buster Posey
Aroldis Chapman
Mike Leake
Jaime Garcia
Starlin Castro
Tyler Colvin
Pedro Alvarez
Ian Desmond
Mike Stanton
Gaby Sanchez

That is just in the National League.  It also doesn't include fellas who very well may have also received more pub like Ike Davis, Madison Bumgarner, and Daniel Hudson.

I wanted to take a closer look at just how good Logan Morrison's debut has been, with the last game of the season in South Florida this afternoon.  Let's try to keep this exercise to less than the three weeks it took to us to anticlimactically confirm that the ALCS should be Yankees/Rays. (or, yeah maybe the Rangers!)

Grace took 'fan friendly' to
another level in the 1990's.
Well then, what did I do?  I looked at Logan Morrison's stats page on BR.  He hasn't been around to have comparable players on BR.  Recognizing that Logan Morrison has a patient batting eye, a command of the strikezone rarely seen in young players with power, I decided to compare him to another such player: Mark Grace.  That got me going on a tangent to Keith Hernandez, some other comparables that may have a bit more power like John Olerud, Paul O'Neill, and so on and so forth.  According to BR, this is LoMo's 22-age season.  He turned 23 at the end of August.  By comparison, here are what some other notable first basemen started their careers:

Logan Morrison
Age 22: 61 games, .396 OBP, 29 XBH, 2 HR, 40 BB, 51 K, 125 OPS+

Mark Grace
Age 22: playing in A ball
Age 23: Double-A
Age 24: 134 g, .371 OBP, 34 XBH, 7 HR, 60 BB, 43 K, 119 OPS+

Keith Hernandez
Age 20: 14 games, small sample size, 7 BB, 8 K
Age 21: 64 g, .309 OBP, 13 XBH, 3 HR, 17 BB, 26 K, 83 OPS+
Age 22: 129 g, .376 OBP, 33 XBH, 7 HR, 49 BB, 53 K, 127 OPS+
Batting Champion and League MVP in Age 25 season

John Olerud
Age 20: 6 games, 3 singles in 8 AB, 0 BB, 1 K
Age 21: 111 g, .364 OBP, 30 XBH, 14 HR, 57 BB, 75 K, 117 OPS+
Age 22: 139 g, .353 OBP, 48 XBH, 17 HR, 68 BB, 84, K, 115 OPS+
3rd in AL MVP voting in Age 24 season

Enos Slaughter
Age 22: 112 g, .330 OBP, 38 XBH, 8 HR, 32 BB, 38 K, 105 OPS+
Played 19 seasons, Hall of Famer

Will Clark
Age 22: 111 g, .343 OBP, 40 XBH, 11 HR, 34 BB, 76 K, 121 OPS+

Paul O'Neill
Age 22: 5 games played
Age 23: 3 games played
Age 24: 84 g, .331 OBP, 22 XBH, 7 HR, 18 BB, 29 K, 111 OPS+

Bobby Abreu
Age 22: 15 games played
Age 23: 59 g, .329 OBP, 15 XBH, 3 HR, 21 BB, 48 K, 87 OPS+

Don Mattingly
Age 21: 7 games played
Age 22: 91 g, .333 OBP, 23 XBH, 4 HR, 21 BB, 30 K, 107 OPS+

Topps cards really have
that background color?
Impressively, Logan Morrison compares better than or equal to every single player we checked out.  Of course, this isn't scientific, and we aren't comparing him to the Frank Thomas and Albert Pujols types.  We are, however, looking at players who mostly had multiple All Star seasons, some MVP caliber seasons, and long, healthy careers.  They are all good at getting on base, yet LoMo has the highest OBP listed, 20 points higher than Keith Hernandez's .376 at the same Age 22 season.  Morrison's XBH (extra base hit) per game is by far the highest we've seen.  His K/BB ratio is outstanding.  And, his 125 OPS+ is second highest, again to Hernandez who scored a 127 OPS+.

Patience from a young hitter is probably the best attribute to find as a scouting director.  Raw Power, like teammate Mike Stanton's, will often grab the headlines, but not making outs while putting the ball in play with some extra base power helps win games more often than a 500 foot homer surrounded by strikeouts and fly balls.  Not only that, it's been said that hitters can learn to hit.  They can practice, and get better, more comfortable, at hitting major league pitching.  However, it's tough to turn an aggressive hitter into a patient one.  These guys have had great success as young players.  They became professional ball players, Major Leaguers, by learning to be aggressive and hitting the snot out of the ball.  They're not about to become what little leaguers call "a looker" just because some hitting coach tells them so.  You don't walk off the island, and you usually don't walk into a scholarship or high school signing bonus.

Logan Morrison is not as good of a defender as Keith Hernandez or Mark Grace, but he's bigger and should develop more power.  He does not strike out as much as Bobby Abreu, while showing similar patience.  A Will Clark type of career would be stupendous, and yet I'm thinking those are somewhat realistic expectations.  That is great news for Marlins fans, errrrr I mean fans of the team that get Logan Morrison after he becomes too expensive for the Marlins.  At another time, we can explore just what the new ballpark in downtown Miami means for the Marlins chances to keep more of their emerging stars.

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