One of the great reclamation projects of the Washington Nationals was dealt on Wednesday. Michael Morse, one of the great stories in MLB over the past several years, is now on his way to the Seattle Mariners, leaving fantasy baseball owners wondering what to make of this one time journeyman-turned-elite slugger.
After bouncing around in the minor leagues and spending parts of five different seasons in the big leagues before really breaking through, Morse put together one of the most surprising years in recent memory in 2011. He posted 31 homers, 95 RBI, and a .303 batting average. Now that he has moved on from the capitol city where he had found such great success, we must decide which Michael Morse he is going to be going forward, and how we feel about drafting him.
There is plenty to like about Morse. Like I said, he has all kinds of upside. He’s a strong kid with 30-homer potential, which is something that simply isn’t very common these days. Unlike the Barry Bonds steroid era, there just aren’t a lot of guys that hit 30 homers each year. Package that power with Morse’s consistent ability to hit for average over the course of his career, and he really looks like something. Over his past three seasons he did not hit worse than .289, and topped .300 in 2011.
Plenty has been made about how Safeco Field can kill a player’s power and how it is dragging down the Mariners offense, but I must say that Nationals Park is no cakewalk of a stadium for hitters either. All of the people that are crying that his power number will decline due to Safeco are being a little too simplistic. Teams play half their games on the road and if Morse can take 30 balls deep in Washington, he certainly can do it in Seattle.
Also, relevant or not, Morse spent the first four years of his big league career in a Mariners uniform. I expect him to be comfortable in his new surroundings and adapt quickly to both the Pacific Northwest and NL pitching.
There are a few question marks about Morse going forward, however. He has never been a picture of durability and his surrounding talent in Seattle probably is a step down from what he is used to in Washington. These are both real concerns.
The elephant in the room, I suppose, is the fact that Morse has only had one great season in his career. That 2011 campaign was phenomenal, but to this day, it was his only season with more than 18 homer or 62 RBI.
It simply is a matter of how much you trust Morse. For where he will inevitably go in drafts this year, I think he is absolutely worth the gamble. While we talked about the downside that he has only posted one great year, we also need to remember just how great that year was – simply outstanding. For the potential of a well-rounded slugger that can help my average too, I am going to take a chance on Morse.