Michael Morse, the Washington Nationals’ current first baseman, is putting up some very impressive offensive numbers this season. Not only does Morse have a good shot at winning the National League batting title, but he’s been chasing the league lead in batting average while having to adapt to playing first base every day.
Currently, the 29-year-old Morse is third in the NL with a batting average of .321 and trails only Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. Braun is batting .326, while José Reyes of the New York Mets, who leads the league with an average of .336.
Michael “The Beast” Morse is not only hitting singles, but he is crushing the ball for extra-base hits and powerful home runs. Some reach the upper deck (at Nationals Park) or even leave the park altogether (at Wrigley Field). Of the 117 base hits that Morse has hit this season, 46 have been extra- base hits.
Part of Morse’s consistency and improved hitting has to do with his starting regularly at first base since May 22. Once Adam LaRoche suffered a season-ending shoulder injury first base was wide open. Before Morse’s first start at first base, he had a batting average of .257 with only 2 HR and 11 RBIs in 36 games while playing left field. Since May 22, Morse has a batting average of .352 with 17 HR and 56 RBIs in 68 games. Playing every day at one position has definitely helped Morse find his groove. Morse has not gone more than two consecutive games without a hit since May 22. He also keeps his bats in his own little humidor, which I find interesting (and seems to be working). Hey, if you’re nice to your bats, they in turn will be nice to you!
It is interesting to note that Michael Morse - who played 5 seasons with the Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Nationals (in 2009 for Ryan Langerhans) - is eligible for arbitration after 2011. While Morse will not become a free agent until 2014, the Nationals need to dig into their wallets and keep Morse for a few more seasons. Adam LaRoche is expected back next year, but after missing most of this season, he may not be back at full capacity. Morse might remain the starting first baseman even if LaRoche makes a full recovery. While Morse has made 6 errors so far at first base this season, he fields the ball pretty well, has a great extension and can finish a double play as well as anyone.
Morse is a player who feeds off the fans and does not seem to be affected by where or how often he plays. So the fact that the Nationals still have plenty of games left to play against the Phillies and other tough teams this season should not be an issue for Morse. If he can maintain his “Beast Mode” for the next six weeks and continues to hit consistently, there is no reason why he cannot win the National League batting title this year.
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.