The man nicknamed “The Beast” has lived up to that moniker through the first month of the 2014 MLB season for the San Francisco Giants. Michael Morse has been a difference-maker in 29 games for the Giants, crushing seven home runs in 98 official at-bats. General manager Brian Sabean inked Morse to a one-year contract worth $6 million over the offseason, a deal of which is already paying dividends. The Giants are a contender in 2014 in part because of Morse’s production at the plate.
Morse solidifies the middle of the Giants’ order in the fifth spot of the lineup. He’s a formidable home-run threat capable of going deep in any at-bat. Most big-league ball clubs opted to avoid the idea of signing Morse, who suffered a season-crippling wrist injury in 2013. Morse’s value on the open market ultimately suffered as a result of his injury. He racked up a microscopic total of 27 RBIs in 2013. He drove-in 20 runs in April.
At 18-11, the Giants own a one-game lead in the NL West. The Giants wouldn’t be in first place in their division if it weren’t for Morse, who owns the best offensive wins-above-replacement on the team at 1.2. After just one month of action, it’s become apparent that Morse was an offseason steal. Morse was three years removed from a 31-home run season when he signed with the Giants. For whatever reason, most ball clubs seemingly thought Morse was incapable of posting numbers like that ever again. Now, he’s proving doubters wrong at a torrid pace.
According to ESPN Stat Projections, Morse is predicted to hit 39 home runs this season, which would be a new career high. At the moment, he’s on pace to nearly eclipse the 50-home run barrier, a feat nobody in a Giants’ uniform has achieved since Barry Bonds patrolled left field. The Giants have had issues replacing the all-time home run leader with a player capable of mounting sufficient production at the plate. San Francisco left fielders combined to hit a pitiful total of five home runs in 2013, a number Morse was able to surpass in one month of action.
Most columnists wouldn’t chart the Giants as revised favorites in the NL West after the first month of the 2014 season, but they don’t appear vulnerable to the type of mid-summer slump they endured last season. The Giants aren’t going to spiral downward this year, in part because of Morse’s reestablished power in the middle of their lineup.