• Morneau no longer thrown for a curve

    Last night Justin Morneau hit multiple home runs in a game for the third time this season. As impressive as that is, the most noteworthy aspect about that feat is that the Twins first baseman hit both of those off of curve balls – something that he had done only once since 2010.

    Heading into Monday’s game against the Indians, Morneau’s numbers against curves had been very underwhelming. According to Fangraphs.com, his Pitch Value on curveballs had been 5.7 runs BELOW average – making it the third worst output against benders in all of baseball.

    But now, after two home runs off of uncle charlies from Zack McAllister and Josh Tomlin, Morneau is looking tougher to retire on that pitch.

    Why is this significant to his progress?


    As I wrote about in May, teams had exploited Morneau’s tendency to jump the gun with his swing with a high percentage of curve balls. While he was opening up his front side drastically, opponents who simple throw him a wrinkle. Because he was firing open, the off-speed breaking stuff likely caused him to be too far out front to put a proper swing on the ball. Now, instead of pulling his front side out he has remained locked in on the ball – leading to better connectivity and punch on those pitches.

    And, because of that, he is hitting .360/.404/.590 since July 5 after going through a series of mechanical adjustments which seemingly have helped him stay back - from the start of the season until July 4, Morneau swung and missed at 14.1% of curves but that rate has dropped to 6.3% since then. In fact, his .415 weighted on-base average over the past 30 days is in the top ten among AL performs.

    It’s good to see Morneau crushing curve balls again and all pitching in general. As John Bonnes wrote about today, this performance (combined with his soon-to-be expiring contract and Chris Parmelee’s AAA outbreak) may make the 31-year-old attractive to the few clubs in the league who are in need of a high-priced first baseman.
    This article was originally published in blog: Morneau no longer thrown for a curve started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. Blake's Avatar
      Blake -
      Parker, what if the Twins decide they like Morneau's bat for another year? Would it be out of the question to put Parmalee in the outfield? Would it make more sense to trade Denard Span, move Revere to center with Parmalee in right?
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Parker, what if the Twins decide they like Morneau's bat for another year? Would it be out of the question to put Parmalee in the outfield? Would it make more sense to trade Denard Span, move Revere to center with Parmalee in right?
      In theory, that's not a bad decision. After all, Parmelee could not be any worse than Willingham or Doumit in the outfield. What I wonder is, why the Twins have not started to prep for this scenario by having Parmelee get some reps in RF/LF in Rochester. So far, he has not had a single inning in the outfield. If that was indeed the organization's long-term plan for him, they would likely have started to condition him there.

      However, I would prefer to have both Span & Revere in the outfield - particularly with a high contact pitching staff.

      Again, with Willingham, Doumit, Morneau and Mauer, there is a shortage of DH/1B/Corner OF positions available so in order to get Parmelee in the mix, someone has to go. It could be Span or Morneau -- but it also could be Parmelee who gets packaged and shipped off.
    1. Blake's Avatar
      Blake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      In theory, that's not a bad decision. After all, Parmelee could not be any worse than Willingham or Doumit in the outfield. What I wonder is, why the Twins have not started to prep for this scenario by having Parmelee get some reps in RF/LF in Rochester. So far, he has not had a single inning in the outfield. If that was indeed the organization's long-term plan for him, they would likely have started to condition him there.

      However, I would prefer to have both Span & Revere in the outfield - particularly with a high contact pitching staff.

      Again, with Willingham, Doumit, Morneau and Mauer, there is a shortage of DH/1B/Corner OF positions available so in order to get Parmelee in the mix, someone has to go. It could be Span or Morneau -- but it also could be Parmelee who gets packaged and shipped off.
      Parker, then there is the joker in the deck, Darin Mastroianni. Does Mastroianni project as a starter or a fourth outfielder/late inning defensive replacement?

      On another note, the Twins recent run doesn't seem to be like the usual end of the season "show them we're ready for next year" type of thing. It's almost like the team is on the verge of turning the corner. It seems very different than the tailspin of last year.
    1. Blake's Avatar
      Blake -
      Parker, I forgot to mention, thanks for the reply.

      The Twins all of a sudden seem to have some extra pieces, something I wouldn't have said earlier in the year.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      He's hitting the curve better, for sure, but the curve on the second homer was horribly hung, up and in the middle of the zone. THe curves that have been very tough for Morneau were the low and away curves that actually bite. Not taking anything away from Morneau's performance, but at least that second curve was not really a curve at all.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      He's hitting the curve better, for sure, but the curve on the second homer was horribly hung, up and in the middle of the zone.
      Without question.
    1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
      J-Dog Dungan -
      Yes, but he had been missing that same pitch before he made the adjustments we have been talking about.
    1. daveha's Avatar
      daveha -
      Sorry, I just don't get it. It seems as if the better Morneau performs, the hotter he is, the more eager most are to dump him. Mauer, Willingham, Morneau...don't get it.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by daveha View Post
      Sorry, I just don't get it. It seems as if the better Morneau performs, the hotter he is, the more eager most are to dump him. Mauer, Willingham, Morneau...don't get it.
      A rebuilding team needs to do a lot better in the rebuilding process than its competitors to make an orderly return to competitive success- a key element of which is getting other teams to buy high, get quality in return at positions of need with commensurate salary relief to purchase that which you can't trade for- and not do what the Twins have been doing almost exclusively in recent years with the players they trade, selling at rock bottom.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I realize that baseball is a business, but sometimes I wonder what effect a trade might have on team morale.

      Also, having both Morneau and Willingham in the lineup could mean a lot of home runs next year, if Morneau can continue to regain his former performance level.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Quote Originally Posted by daveha View Post
      Sorry, I just don't get it. It seems as if the better Morneau performs, the hotter he is, the more eager most are to dump him. Mauer, Willingham, Morneau...don't get it.
      I agree with you daveha---Mauer, Willingham and Morneau should be the heart of this club for the next few years. At least until the Sano group is ready. Hopefully some quality free agent pitchers are signed for next season.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      He's hitting the curve better, for sure, but the curve on the second homer was horribly hung, up and in the middle of the zone. THe curves that have been very tough for Morneau were the low and away curves that actually bite. Not taking anything away from Morneau's performance, but at least that second curve was not really a curve at all.
      Lefty curves were beating Morneau because his torso line was falling away from the plate on swing. When Morneau's swing pivots around his neck (like Willingham's swing does), then the ball jumps off his bat just like it does off Willingham's bat.

      You can actually predict how well Morneau will do in a ball game. On his first at-bat, hold a pencil straight up, hiding his neck. If his neck moves to the left of the pencil more than a foot (in real space) when he swings, he's falling off and he'll either strike out or ground out the whole game. If his neck moves left six inches, he'll get one or two hits. If his neck stays right behind the pencil, he's locked in and going to absolutely crush the ball. In fact, if I'm the opposing manager and I see him staying over the ball, I'd intentionally walk Morneau all game, even with the bases loaded. When his neck ain't moving, Morneau is the most dangerous hitter in baseball.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.