Michael Morse’s Power Stroke Is Key to San Francisco Giants Winning the NL West
The San Francisco Giants surged to the best record in baseball through June 8 (42-21) in part because of the offensive firepower of slugging outfielder Michael Morse, whose production has tailed significantly over the past seven weeks. Morse has bashed just one home run over his last 39 games. Over that stretch, the Giants have struggled. The orange and black are just 15-24 since posting a season-best 21 games over the .500 mark.
Morse hasn’t often been pinpointed as a primary proponent of the Giants’ mid-summer failures, but his suddenly glaring lack of production at the plate has negatively affected San Francisco’s lineup in a big way. “The Beast” has posted solid numbers on the season, but has recorded just six RBI since June 5. He owns a respectable .274 batting average with 14 home runs and 47 RBI in 340 official at-bats in 2014.
Morse’s numbers have been good, all things considered, but he needs to ramp-up his ability to knock pitches over the fence in order to help propel the Giants to their third NL West crown in a span of five seasons. The Giants’ glaring lack of bench depth increases the need for guys like Morse to consistently perform at a high level. San Francisco’s left-fielder simply hasn’t done that over the better part of the last two months.
Morse’s struggles have mostly come against left-handed pitchers (.222 batting average against). His power numbers are relatively balanced, though. His average on balls in play is also respectable (.332). It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what Morse needs to do differently in order to start producing near the level he was able to at the start of the 2014 season. His batting line hasn’t suffered as a result of his power outage, but the Giants have.
At the moment, the Giants boast a lineup that features four difficult outs for opposing pitchers: Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Morse. The remainder of the Giants’ lineup is a legitimate crap-shoot. For San Francisco to maximize its chances of claiming a spot in the playoffs, Morse needs to find a way to start bashing baseballs over the fence. He was a big time difference-maker through the season’s first two months, but has strangely hit fewer long balls than pitcher Madison Bumgarner has since the outage began.