After the Twins signed Logan Morrison, I had written an article on his swing to give Twins fans hope that his 2017 season was no fluke and he could have similar results in 2018.
So far the Twins haven’t seen much from Morrison in 2018 and it’s completely fair to wonder if 2017 was a mirage in a career that had otherwise seen him hit only 84 home runs over 6.5 seasons.
Given Morrison’s launch angle approach, Twins fans should have expected the swing-and-miss types of at-bats that he is going through. That said, Morrison has seen his swing-and-miss rate hit a career-high in so far 2018 at 15.2 percent which, more significantly, is up over three percentage points from 2017.
Accompanying that is career-high chase rate as he has swung at 33.3 percent of pitches that are outside of the strike zone compared to 27.7 percent in 2017. A byproduct of chasing pitches outside of the strike zone is making poor contact, and Morrison is no exception to this relationship. So far his soft-hit rate is at a career-high 28.1 percent and his hard-hit rate is at a career low 25 percent.
To summarize, without all the fancy statistics, Morrison is chasing more pitches out of the zone which is leading to more swings and misses and weaker contact when he does hit the ball.
Is this a problem where the law of averages will fix itself or should Twins fan be concerned that they’ll never see the Morrison of yesteryear?
To answer this I looked at how pitchers were attacking him this year compared to last year. The raw pitch count zone chart below shows that Morrison was dealt a healthy serving of balls that were low and on the mid or outer half of the plate last season.
The Twins didn’t sign Morrison for his batting average, so I looked at how his slugging percentage fared in the next zone chart.
When you compare the two charts, you’ll notice that Morrison actually crushed last year when pitchers were thrown in the same zones mentioned above.
So far this season, pitchers have taken notice that he likes that part of the strike zone so they have started attacking him where he had little success last year.
Above you’ll see his raw pitch count zone chart for this season and notice that pitchers are attacking him more on the inner half of the plate than the outer half. When they do throw the ball low they’re doing a better job of keeping out of the strike zone, which could help explain his higher chase rate.
They also noticed that he had a hard time with the fastball last year as he slugged just .358 as compared to .569 against all other types of pitches. So this year he has seen a healthy dose of fastballs — 46 percent compared to 41 percent in 2017 — and has struggled to make solid contact on those.
So let’s get back to the question at hand…will things improve? Simply put: yes, because it can’t get much worse. But let me offer two solutions.
Morrison has always had decent patience at the plate. Even last year his chase rates and walk rates were right around the league average. So the first solution is more of an adjustment is for Morrison to regain that patience, especially since pitchers are attacking more out of the zone.
This is easier said than done, but that would force pitchers to throw him strikes and hopefully result in better contact when he does hit them.
An external change to help him see more strikes would be to bat him higher in the order versus right-handed pitching. Switching him and Eddie Rosario in the lineup could help Morrison as he would be more protected by Rosario, who is a better hitter and has improved his plate discipline each year of his career, compared to Eduardo Escobar who is currently batting behind Morrison.
In short, the Twins and Morrison need to figure out a way for him to see more strikes. There are things that both parties can do to help, and I’m afraid that Morrison will continue to struggle until one of those changes are made.