Dispelling The Fantasy “Negatives” Of Justin Morneau

I have to wonder why Justin Morneau is often considered the “other” top first baseman.  After all the top names have come off the board and you find yourself empty handed, you can either “settle” for Morneau or wait a few rounds and take Kendry Morales, Lance Berkman or Carlos Pena.

Why is Morneau thought of as nothing more than the ninth best first baseman according to ADP?  Is it:

  • His .280 career average?
  • His 30+ HR in three of the last four seasons?
  • His 100+ RBI for four years running, including years of 129 (2008) and 130 (2006)?

Exactly what is it that has Morneau behind Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis?  I have him ranked as the sixth first baseman on my most recent rankings (click here to view), and here’s why.

First, let’s look at his numbers from last season:

508 At Bats
.274 Batting Average (139 Hits)
30 Home Runs
100 RBI
85 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.363 On Base Percentage
.516 Slugging Percentage
.273 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The average, which is clearly usable, was hampered by some poor luck.  Of people who qualified for the batting title, the .273 was tied for the thirteenth worst in the league (out of 154).  Do we really expect him to replicate that type of bad luck again?

Also, his strikeouts were the worst they have been since his first full season in 2005:

  • 2006 – 15.7%
  • 2007 – 15.4%
  • 2008 – 12.6%
  • 2009 – 16.9%

Better luck plus less strikeouts (my projection has him at 15.5%) means a significantly better average for 2010.  You mix that with the rest of his numbers and what exactly is there not to like?

I know, the new ballpark makes you worry, at least a little bit, about his power for the upcoming season.  It’s a fair concern, because until they start playing there we really aren’t going to have an idea as to how it will affect hitters (did anyone foresee the new Yankees Stadium playing as it did).  However, it’s not like he’s been a huge home run hitter at home over the past few seasons:

  • 2006: 17 HR at home/17 HR on the road
  • 2007: 15 HR at home/16 HR on the road
  • 2008: 12 HR at home/11 HR on the road
  • 2009: 14 HR at home/16 HR on the road

The moral of the story is Morneau is not a player whose power has come because he played in a hitter’s park.  Even if the new ballpark favors pitchers, how many home runs do we really expect it to steal?  Worst-case scenario is he hits 27 HR?  I don’t think that’s anything to complain about (and also not what I’d expect).

He’s proven to be an RBI machine and with Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and J.J. Hardy taking up spots behind him in the lineup, he should be in for a solid year of scoring runs as well.

Seriously, what’s not to like?

Let’s take a look at my 2010 projection for him:

.297 (178-600), 33 HR, 110 RBI, 90 R, 0 SB, .306 BABIP, .397 OBP, .523 SLG

Let others in your league bypass on Morneau if they desire.  Let them consider him a second-class citizen, because the fact is that he has proven to be among the top producing 1B in the league the last few seasons.  Don’t be upset if you have to “settle” for him, because you will be greatly rewarded.

What are your thoughts on Morneau?  Where do you rank him among 1B?  What are you expecting from him in 2010?

If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5), click here.

Make sure to check out some of our 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

 

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13 Responses to Dispelling The Fantasy “Negatives” Of Justin Morneau

  1. Michael Keneski says:

    the injuries are a major worry with him and i hate the fact he always slumps in the second half. the Dan Haren of hitters. when you need him the most, he lets you down. that is a major issue.

  2. Ross says:

    I have seen numbers, although I forget now where, that his quality of contact in the zone has always been sub par leading to his frequently less that stellar batting average. Although I still do love a healthy Morneau, especially for rbi opps in that lineup, it’s tough to get too excited about a 280 hitter.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    The second half concerns are fair, especially after last season’s .201 average, but he was .267 in ’08 and .342 in ’06 after the break, so it’s not an every year collapse (or as drastic as last season’s). Last season’s decline could also be attributed to his injury.

    As far as injuries, from ’06-’08 he’s had AB 592, 590 & 623, so that wouldn’t be a huge concern for me.

  4. TY says:

    Injuries are and AREN’T a concern if you look at it from different views. Last year was basically like RP said his first injury ridden year, so you can’t say he’s injury prone, but his injuries were back related and thats what scares me. When you get these guys that start having back issues that is NOT good. It can flare up at any time and cause issues and even affect the guy day to day when he is on the field. The fact that Ryan Braun has had some issues really worries me about him for the future.

    Another thing i DONT like about Morneua is he’s batted from .231-.321 in the past 5 years. He’s basically a .270-.300 hitter, but which Morneua are you going to get?

    He won’t steal any bases, votto has a shot at 10.

    He can’t hit 40HR’s, agon could hit that PLUS, especially if he’s dealt.

    Youk again shouldn’t be in a 1B conversation. He’s being used at 3B by anyone and everyone.

    RP- I think your projections are pretty good, but a little high on the average and the power. More like .275 and tops 30HRS.

  5. He’s discounted because he’s Canadian. All kidding aside, I like Morneau in 2010. The Twins have upgraded a good lineup. As long as he stays healthy, he should do fine. I think Thome’s addition will be a good thing for Morneau.

  6. PigBodine says:

    the type of injury has my worried- wrist injuries can often linger especially for a power hitter

  7. Sanjay says:

    Michael Kenski hit it right on the head. Fantasy playoff time is when you need your players the most and he just doesnt deliver. His career post-AS BA is 40 points lower than his pre-AS BA.

  8. MDS says:

    back problems are scary… if morneau is healthy, he will be better than Votto. 10 SB? who cares. morneau can hit 40 bombs easy

  9. TY says:

    MDS- “morneua can hit 40 bombs easy”

    Why post something like this when you dont do any research? I’ll save you the 10 seconds it takes to google it.

    Morneua’s CAREER YEAR he ONLY hit 34.

    He’s hit 22, 34, 31, 23, and 30 HR’s in the past 5 seasons, basically ALL HEALTHY. He’s 29 going into 2010.

    I dont know about you, but the law of averages and common sense says THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL he can hit 40HR’s.

    Why would I favor VOTTO?

    BETTER AVG
    POSSIBILITY FOR 10 SB’s
    30+HR season is coming

    I’m pretty sure there’s more positives to VOTTO than “just 10sb’s”.

  10. Morat says:

    Morneau absolutely killed owners down the stretch the last two years. He did NOTHING after the all-star break. He has a bad back, it hurts more as the year goes on, I see a trend. I won’t touch this guy ever again.

    He clearly belongs in Tier 3 at 1B
    1) pujols
    2) Cabrera, Fielder, Tex, Howard
    3) Gonzo, Kendry, Votto, Morneau

    There are 8 1B-men I’d rather have. At which point I’m filling up other scarce positions and waiting a few rounds later for 1B to get someone like Berkman, Lee, Butler or even Korenko. The drop off from Justin to any of these guys is worth the wait.

  11. Aaron says:

    I don’t understand second half concerns with players. For me that just means that after two months I will trade him for more value than he’s actually worth.

    For where he’s being drafted I would lvoe to have him on my team.

  12. BLAZE says:

    Morneau hitting 40 easy isnt going to happen. The year he hit his career high 34 he had about 600 ab’s. It wasnt like he was sitting on 450 abs or anything. He don’t have 40+ power. But neither does Votto.

    But i’ll def agree Votto *w/o the dizziness* over Morneau anyday. But Votto’s price is too high. Morneau is the better bargain. But as far as hitting goe’s, Votto owns him.

  13. TY says:

    blaze i agree that votto is going too high, i’ve seen him go in mocks inthe 2nd round? i’d take him mid 3rd to late 3rd, but not in the 2nd rd…

    aaron- you say second halfs dont matter, well no they dont if you’re playing ROTO, but for H2H owners thats the stretch you need them the most… and if you’re in any kind of knowlegable league they’re gonna KNOW dan haren falls off the second half, mark teixiera and ryan howard slump early and are monsters in Aug/Sept… If you can play roto and deal them or for them its great, but H2H is a different mindset. You need consistency and all year long, especially in the playoffs and second half.

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