Looks Like Christopher Morel’s Luck Could Be Turning

We’re not even two weeks removed from looking at how the disparity between Christopher Morel‘s expected and actual stats signaled a breakout, but it looks like that improvement is already well underway. As of that previous article, Morel had a .301 wOBA against a .379 xwOBA and a .371 slugging percentage against a .503 xSLG. He was hitting the ball hard in the air and getting nothing to show for it, as evidenced by a .205 BABIP that was way too low to maintain.

In the time since, he is slashing .300/.400/.600 with a .431 wOBA that works out to a 184 wRC+ over 35 plate appearances. I wanted to make sure to include that last bit as a qualifier because we’re talking about a very small sample that isn’t necessarily significant in and of itself. However, it’s notable that he’s generating hard contact (45.5% now vs. 46.2% then) and fly balls (40.9% vs. 39.7%) at almost identical rates. As such, his season xwOBA remains unchanged and his xSLG has fallen by just one point.

The only real difference appears to be that he’s pulling the ball much less (36.4% vs. 51.3%) as he settles in and takes what pitchers give him. Please note this isn’t a matter of “aiming” his hits, it’s just that he’s more relaxed at the plate and isn’t trying to crush everything to the pull side. That has allowed Morel to sneak a few more balls through the infield that had previously been vacuumed up, hence the jump to a .316 BABIP during this hot stretch.

While that is well above the league average of .288 this season, it’s well in line with Morel’s .312 average from his first two seasons in the league. And knowing what we do about how hard-hit balls are more likely to land for hits, it figures that he should track above his peers in that regard.

Morel will continue to endure some cold stretches here and there, but they should be more than mitigated by this and future hot streaks. As such, I suspect we’ll see him above his typical numbers by season’s end. Perhaps even by a wide margin since his walk and strikeout numbers are showing significant improvement over enough plate appearances to be credible. Now if he could just do something about that first-percentile defense at third base.

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