• 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. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?87...dily-improving
    1. robbie111's Avatar
      robbie111 -
      Great analysis of this now. Thanks Parker. http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?87...dily-improving
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Players get hurt... players get healthy... Players have up years and players have down years... They have up months in down years and down months in up years.

      Morneau had been a Great hitter pre concussion. To suggest that he was done always seemed pre-mature to me. I'm not saying he's back but I would never say he is done.
    1. Pitz's Avatar
      Pitz -
      Thanks for this article. It seems that maybe/hopefully Morneau is finally able to focus on playing baseball and improving at the plate rather than worrying about his injuries. Here's to hoping that he can finish this year strong and get ready for an even stronger campaign in 2013.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      Just saying, who says it was the concussion that was affecting his hitting against lefties? And I haven't seen anything about Morneau having problems with his concussion symptoms.
      I think it was the time away from the game (almost 2 years?) along with the lost weight that was effecting his hitting.

      He still doesn't look like old Justin but he is getting closer, hopefully 2013 can be a break out year for him.

      One question I have, do you think about offering him a contract extension this off-season?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      Even better, since the All-Star Break, Morneau is hitting .339 with both of his HR's against lefties
      Tomlin isn't a lefty.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      yeah, that's why the front office shouldn't have traded him for crap. It is obvious he's improving, and if he continues to do something he should fetch a nice price this offseason. The question becomes what his ceiling will be going forward. Even if he doesn't, I'd bet he is a prime chip to trade next July.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Lot of love from the Boogers I mean bloggers for Morneau. Lot of love. Lot of critique of Mauer and his 23 mil. Morneau and his 14 mil? He has a brain injury (ahem mild concussion)! His UZR -2.0 this year at 1B - Pathetic. WAR .6 - Pathetic. 260 ave 322 OBP. Chris Parmelee could do all of that for 13.5 million less. Brian Dozier of all people is worth more to the Twins. BUT, Morneau will play well next year. Do you know why? It's a contract year. His 4 year vacation is over and he will want some new bank roll.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      One question I have, do you think about offering him a contract extension this off-season?
      33 year old 1B with an extensive injury history, no thanks.

      Plus I want to see what Parm can do in extended period (and Parm is no outfielder)
    1. Mauerzy4Prez's Avatar
      Mauerzy4Prez -
      Quote Originally Posted by robbie111 View Post
      Thru June 17th He was hitting a dismal .091 agains't them and since then he is .324 (11 for 34) and has had a 17 game hitting streak and is hitting close to .320 in his last 25 games overall. I know it's a small sample size, but maybe his concussion isn't affecting him to the same degree it did earlier in the season.
      His concussion was not the problem at all this season. The team would not have even put him on the field if he had any fraction of a symptom still... His problem earlier this season is that he missed almost 2 full years of baseball, was not in shape, and his swing was completely out of whack. He was swinging off his heels trying to pull the ball and just flat out guessing against lefties.

      Look at his swing now. He is planting his feet, timing his front step and striding towards the pitcher when he swings instead of pulling off. Small sample size? Yes. Noticeable adjustments to his swing that have shown immediate success? YES!

      They also mentioned on the broadcast last night that Gardy recently said he had absolutely no concern whatsoever with Morny's health, and that he is feeling great. That is very good to hear, maybe the new baby gave him some extra confidence to have fun and enjoy playing the best game in the world!
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      One question I have, do you think about offering him a contract extension this off-season?
      Are you screwing with us, Dave?
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      Lot of love from the Boogers I mean bloggers for Morneau. Lot of love. Lot of critique of Mauer and his 23 mil. Morneau and his 14 mil? He has a brain injury (ahem mild concussion)! His UZR -2.0 this year at 1B - Pathetic. WAR .6 - Pathetic. 260 ave 322 OBP. Chris Parmelee could do all of that for 13.5 million less. Brian Dozier of all people is worth more to the Twins. BUT, Morneau will play well next year. Do you know why? It's a contract year. His 4 year vacation is over and he will want some new bank roll.
      4 year vacation? Really?

      thanks for your insight into the discussion.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      Lot of love from the Boogers I mean bloggers for Morneau. Lot of love. Lot of critique of Mauer and his 23 mil. Morneau and his 14 mil? He has a brain injury (ahem mild concussion)! His UZR -2.0 this year at 1B - Pathetic. WAR .6 - Pathetic. 260 ave 322 OBP. Chris Parmelee could do all of that for 13.5 million less. Brian Dozier of all people is worth more to the Twins. BUT, Morneau will play well next year. Do you know why? It's a contract year. His 4 year vacation is over and he will want some new bank roll.
      Yeah, totally agree. Morneau risked a life-altering injury so he could take some PTO.

      Sigh.

      And "boogers"? Really?
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      The best thing that can happen for the Twins is that the Dodgers and Reds both fail embarrassingly in the playoffs and highlight their needs for Morneau and Span. Not saying we would trade either in the offseason but those would be two teams that might really regret not making moves for them this week.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Are you screwing with us, Dave?
      No, I like Morneau and wouldn't mind keeping him around as a 1b/DH type after next year if the price is right. Parmelee is intriguing, but I'm not completely sold that he can hit enough to be a good first baseman.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Regret only helps if they can get a time machine somehow. It won't alter anything in the future unfortunately.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      No, I like Morneau and wouldn't mind keeping him around as a 1b/DH type after next year if the price is right. Parmelee is intriguing, but I'm not completely sold that he can hit enough to be a good first baseman.
      He would be a classic mid late 30s DH. He's still a decent enough fielder though.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      No, I like Morneau and wouldn't mind keeping him around as a 1b/DH type after next year if the price is right. Parmelee is intriguing, but I'm not completely sold that he can hit enough to be a good first baseman.
      I'm not against keeping him if he stays healthy in 2013 but we'll cross that bridge a year from now. It makes no sense to sign him right now.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      I'm not against keeping him if he stays healthy in 2013 but we'll cross that bridge a year from now. It makes no sense to sign him right now.
      Nobody turns SSS to multi-year contracts like Dave.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      No, I like Morneau and wouldn't mind keeping him around as a 1b/DH type after next year if the price is right. Parmelee is intriguing, but I'm not completely sold that he can hit enough to be a good first baseman.
      Have you seen what he's doing in AAA? Morneau is my favorite player, and I'd love for him to stick around, but where exactly is he going to play? The DH spot is locked up with Mauer and Doumit. Parmelee needs a place to play. Unless you move Mauer to 3rd on occasion and have Plouffe play more in the infield, so that Morneau can DH, there's no spot for him come 2014. I'm guessing Morneau's improvement continues and he gets traded for something of value next July.
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