Blue Jays: Morales not so quietly proving his worth

Apr 11, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales (8) hits a single in the first inning against Milwaukee Brewers at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales (8) hits a single in the first inning against Milwaukee Brewers at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the Blue Jays winning on a Kendrys Morales walk-off home run on Saturday, both of their wins this season have come on the strength of a bit hit from their new DH.

When the Toronto Blue Jays needed a regular season hero as badly as they have in franchise history, their new DH, Kendrys Morales, stepped up to deliver. Leading off the bottom of the ninth, Morales sent the first pitch he saw into the second deck in right-centre field, walking off the Orioles and leading the Blue Jays to their second win of the season.

A week ago, Morales hit a key grand slam against the Tampa Bay Rays, coincidentally the only other win the Blue Jays have managed in their 11 games thus far. Saturday’s win was a big one for the club though, and the hope is that they’ll ride Morales’ big hit to some positive momentum, now that their 7 game losing streak is over.

It’s been well documented how badly the Blue Jays have struggled thus far, getting off to the worst start in franchise history. Many of their key hitters are struggling, and even in a win on Saturday, the flailing lineup only managed 2 runs on 6 hits.

https://twitter.com/TitanicBaseball/status/853343888492441600

Jose Bautista has started the season with a .150 batting average, with just 1 RBI and no home runs. Devon Travis is hitting .105 and has been removed from the leadoff spot, at least until he can get things going. Russell Martin is hitting .071. Those three aren’t the only problems, as the offence has started out as the least productive in all of baseball.

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One of the few hitters who hasn’t looked lost at the plate has been Morales, who is sitting with a .244/.340/.439 slash line, with 2 home runs and 7 RBI, playing in all 11 games thus far. While the numbers aren’t flashy, they don’t give a total representation of how he’s been hitting the ball thus far this season.

For anyone who has been able to watch the games, Morales has routinely hit the ball hard, only to have hits taken away either by solid defensive plays, or in some cases, a bit of bad luck. The way he’s hit the ball early on, he could easily have a batting average much better than .244 in his 41 at bats.

So while it’s been easy for many fans to point to the absence of Edwin Encarnacion as the reason for the Blue Jays’ struggles, the reality is Morales has been an adequate replacement, early on this season. In fact, Encarnacion is struggling in the early going in Cleveland, hitting just .194 with 1 home run and a single RBI.

That’s not to suggest that Morales is better than Edwin or anything like that, only that Morales has been anything but the reason for the Blue Jays tepid start to the season. By all reports, he’s been an excellent clubhouse presence, and a shining example of putting work in throughout the year. The shot the other night of him sitting in the dugout 45 minutes prior to the first pitch, alone, shows how much he loves the game.

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If you ask me, it looks like the Blue Jays have a good one in Morales, and so far they have him to thank for the little bit of offence they have produced in order to earn their two wins. Hopefully the Cuban slugger and his new teammates can use his Saturday heroics as a springboard to rattle off a few more wins.

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