You think you had a good weekend? It probably doesn’t compare to what Mike Morse did. Friday through Sunday he started 3 games, had 12 ABs, with 8 hits, including 3 doubles, a triple and a home run. It brought his season numbers up to .294/.335/.535, and as Ben Goessling pointed out, it put him on a projected pace to hit 31 HRs in 550 ABs this year.
What was really interesting about his weekend, though, was how much of it was directed against right handed pitching. On Friday night he faced LHP Jaime Garcia, then LHP Trevor Miller, but then tripled against RHP Ryan Franklin. On Saturday, he faced only RHPs – Kyle Lohse and Mike MacDougal. On Sunday, he went against another RHP, Adam Wainwright, before finishing up the weekend hitting against a final RHP, Blake Hawksworth. He ended up going 7 for 9 against righties, with a triple, two doubles, and a homer.
Why is this really interesting? Because before this Friday, he was hitting .242/.284/.400 against RHP this season. Now he hitting .288/.330/.500 against them. That pre-weekend .684 OPS was pretty comparable to what he’d done in the past. His career splits are pretty telling. He’s got an OPS of .863 against lefties but only .675 against righties before this weekend. Factor these last 3 days in and his career OPS vs righties jumps to .758! It’s pretty simple, really. Before this weekend, he couldn’t hit right handed pitchers.
What changed? Well, the most likely scenario is that nothing has changed. That is to say, he got hot at the right time, starting on Friday night, and carried it through the weekend. This is the most likely scenario because he’s 28 years old, and at that age past statistics tend to be indicative of the play. If that’s the case, he will probably continue to hit lefties well and stink against righties.
Of course, there is are some other possibilities. The first is that, since he only had 122 major league ABs in his age 24-27 seasons, he’s just getting in to the rhythm of hitting at this level. And part of getting that rhythm is hitting righties as well. Another choice is that he has matured, and is finally able to hit them. Not to say he wouldn’t prefer facing the lefties, just that he won’t be as bad against righties. I wouldn’t easily dismiss either of these possibilities.
The Nats have another month to play Morse as much as they want, and I can’t think of a better time to determine whether he can hit righties more consistently. Even in his short stint in AAA this year, he faced a bunch of righties and did well. If the Nats can convince themselves that he isn’t solely a platoon player, then that adds a great deal of bat to their lineup going in to next year, and allows them to focus on something else, rather than the gaping corner outfield or 1B hole that might be there.