Before I actually looked up the statistics, I was fully expecting Morneau to be way better than incumbent Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones. What I learned however, is that they are eerily similar players. I had hopes that the Pirates would be able to just replace Jones in the lineup with Morneau because I don’t think Jones is very good at all, but I’ve changed my mind.
Now I want the Pirates to trade for Morneau and stick Jones in right field. While neither Jones or Morneau are much better than average players, having both in the lineup against right-handed pitching is better than having Jones and Andrew Lambo.
When looking at the statistics, it really is amazing how similar the two are.
Both Jones and Morneau have a wRC+ of 103 (average is 100). Jones has a slash line of .251/.306/.432 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs. Morneau has a line of .263/.318/.424 with 14 home runs and 67 RBIs. Morneau does provide a legitimate upgrade defensively at first base, but it probably balances out because the defense would be worse anyway with Jones in right field as opposed to first base.
Unlike Jones, Morneau does have a much better chance at putting the ball in play, with just a 17.4 percent strikeout rate compared to Jones’ 22 percent rate. Let’s not forget that Morneau plays in a park that is awful for left-handed hitters, while Jones plays in a very hitter-friendly park for lefties.
Sure, you’re probably wondering what the point is of trading for the exact same player. Well, it’s not about replacing Jones with Morneau but essentially replacing the combination of Lambo, Jose Tabata and Travis Snider with Jones in right field.
Morneau is a big-name player that would draw excitement from the fan base as well, and at this point in his career, he wouldn’t cost much in terms of prospects. The Pirates likely wouldn’t even have to give up a C prospect to acquire him. I say go for it.