Image used under Creative Commons from Keith Allison
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the San Francisco Giants signed outfielder Michael Morse to a one year, $6 million contract on Thursday. He was signed to man left field and most likely play every day if he’s healthy. The 31 year old is entering his tenth year as a major leaguer and is known for his serious power. Given the Giants lack of power, Morse could provide a boost to the Giants’ lineup.
Although Morse has home run power, there are some concerns about Morse that raise some red flags. One thing is his injury history. He only played 88 games in 2013 due to a strained right quad and a fractured finger. He has only played one full season in the majors and that was 2011 when he played 146 games with the Washington Nationals. 2011 was the best year he has had in the major leagues. He had a slash line of .303/.360/.550 while hitting 31 home runs and compiling 95 RBIs. The more detailed stats also show just how good a year he had offensively. He had a 148 wRC+ and a .390 wOBA. His defense leaves a lot to be desired and his baserunning is not his strong suit either, having stolen only six bases in his career and being caught six times. Morse had a poor 2013 while playing for the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles and hit .215/.270/.381, which obviously leaves a lot to be desired. The Giants signed Morse to replace 29 year old weak-hitting outfielder Gregor Blanco. Blanco is pretty much the opposite of Morse. Blanco is fast, plays excellent defense, and has very little power. He has 66 stolen bases in his short career and 40 of them coming in the last two years with the Giants. The Giants acquired Blanco in 2012 and he has been the starting left fielder the previous two seasons. In 2013 Blanco had a slash line of .265/.341/.350. His OBP is solid, but that slugging percentage is woeful. Blanco compiled a respectable 2.8 fWAR last year and a 2.3 fWAR the year before. Morse had a 3.1 fWAR in his most productive year, 2011. To make a long story short, Morse needs to return to his 2011 form to be worth replacing Blanco as the Giants left fielder.