Logan Morrison Is Getting Super Unlucky


The 2015 Seattle Mariners have been a mixed bag thus far. There are legitimate bright spots, both expected and unexpected. There are also some disappointments, some that we could see coming and some that we couldn’t. Same as any team! Crazy thing about baseball is it happens to everyone.

Throughout the wildness of the April M’s, there’s been one guy who’s gotten consistently unlucky. One player who’s been getting the short end of the stick seemingly every time. If you’ve been watching the games, you probably know who I’m talking about – this is about Logan Morrison.

LoMo is off to a terrible start this year – in 55 plate appearances, he’s running a .176/.236/.176 batting line. That’s no home runs, no extra base hits – good for an isolated slugging percentage of zero. Add in some typically sub par defense at first, and he’s been worth -0.4 WAR already. Which explains why the M’s are doing stuff like signing Carlos Quentin as a potential platoon partner.

So far this year, Morrison has been the Mariners worst player – worse, even, than any of the pitchers who have had such nightmarish results. But here’s the thing with Morrison: this won’t last, since underneath it all, he’s been alright. No, really. Stick with me here.

Morrison’s strikeout rate, in an admittedly tiny sample, is the lowest it’s ever been. At 10.9%, he’s way in front of his previous career-best mark, which was 16.2% last season. He’s never done this in the minors, either, in case you were wondering. This is uncharted territory for a guy who appears to be getting more out of his at-bats than ever before.

His walk rate is also improved from 2013, by the way, but that’s not what’s exciting here. What’s exciting is that less strikeouts mean more balls in play, and here’s where we have the clearest evidence that LoMo’s being robbed. On balls in play this year, LoMo’s got a .200 average. That’s 80 points below his career average, and 87 points below where he was a year ago.

Despite putting more balls in play, Morrison’s having a hard time avoiding fielder’s gloves. Given the nature of this data sample – less than one tenth of a season’s worth of trips to the plate – it seems almost certain that there’s no cause for this other than bad luck. Morrison’s peripherals strongly suggest he should be getting more luck with his balls in play, not worse. Let the K rate encourage you twice as much as the batting average discourages you.

Of course, we know this isn’t anecdotal data mining. Remember opening day, when Mike Trout reached up into the sky to rob LoMo of a dinger? Shin-Soo Choo did the same thing to him, and then he got robbed on some hard-hit balls during the Astros series. He’s been stinging the ball, only to find that it’s landing right in a mit. That’s not bad hitting – that’s good hitting, mired by some incredibly crappy luck.

Out of all the struggling Mariners, Logan Morrison might be the one least worth worrying about. At his best he’s good, not great, and if we look just a little bit past the results of his batted balls this year we’ll see a guy who’s been playing fundamentally good baseball. LoMo’s getting BABIP’d. Fortunately for him, this almost always works itself out rather quickly.

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