Michael Morse‘s return to the Seattle Mariners wasn’t exactly what you’d call a homecoming under the most glorious of circumstances: he was a failed prospect with serious health concerns when he was traded to the Washington Nationals in 2009, and ended up being traded back to his first MLB franchise after ending up as the odd man out in Washington only one year removed from a 31-homer, 3.1 fWAR breakout season in 2011.
Regardless of the circumstances, though, Morse will return not as a prospect who couldn’t stick, but as a slugger capable of carrying the M’s offense in 2013 — and he’s poised to make this homecoming count.
In fact, he’s not only showing Mariners what he’s capable of; with the spring campaign that he’s had, Morse is essentially putting the entire AL West — if not the league — on notice.
Over 56 at-bats in his 2013 Cactus League campaign, Morse has put up a league-leading 1.332 OPS on the back of an incredible nine homers, also putting him at the top of the class. While he doesn’t have quite as many at-bats and extra-base hits as Brandon Belt, who is arguably the king of spring this season, there’s very little doubt that Morse is in mid-season form as well as his power stroke is concerned.
The Mariners will be relying on that fact to jump out of the gate with a strong start in 2013, as the 31-year old will be relied upon as the all-important cleanup hitter behind Kendrys Morales in the heart of the new-look M’s offense.
Sure, the standard caveat about spring results apply here as much as it does to everyone else, but fortunately for the team, history is on their side in this case: Morse’s 2013 Spring Training is his best in the last five years, topping only the 1.239 OPS pre-season campaign in 2011 just prior to his breakout in the league.
If it’s any more than that, though, the Mariners’ offense is going to be a whole different beast in 2013 than it’d been in the past, and it won’t take very long for the rest of the division — and perhaps the league — to start paying attention.