Logan Morrison, Marlins' Offense Wakes Up, But Problems Persist

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 19: Kelly Shoppach #10 of the Boston Red Sox tags out Logan Morrison #5 of the Miami Marlins at the plate during interleague play at Fenway Park June 19, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Last night's disappointing 7-5 loss by the Miami Marlins was highlighted by one possible sign of good things to come. The Marlins, for what seemed like the first time in the entire month, had finally found some offense. The Fish scored five runs, which is only the third time all month in which they have scored that many. The only two other times were during the wins against the Philadelphia Phillies in a series that honestly felt like years ago rather than at the start of the month.

The offense was backed by Logan Morrison, who has done well in recent weeks but is still hitting just .261/.294/.547 in the month of June. The confusing thing about Morrison's stats is that the results he has been getting the last two months have been coming from completely different ends. In May, he walked in 15.5 percent of his PA but only managed a .215 BABIP en route to a .176/.307/.294 month. In June, he has hit three home runs and six doubles but only walked twice in 55 PA.

Overall, Morrison's season line looks very similar to last season's, minus one very important thing.

Morrison AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2012 .240 .323 .398 .314
2011 .246 .330 .468 .344

Morrison K% BB% ISO XB/H BABIP
2012 16.6 10.8 .158 0.660 .265
2011 18.9 10.3 .221 0.895 .265

In case you were wondering what Morrison's decent but unspectacular 2011 would look like without power, check out his 2012 season and that .314 wOBA.

The encouraging thing is that Morrison has improved this month in one area in which he needs to focus: hitting the ball in the air.

Morrison, 2012 GB% FB% LD%
April 39.6 32.1 28.3
May 50.8 38.5 10.8
June 31.0 50.0 19.0

Morrison's relative success this month (.355 wOBA despite the terrible OBP) is in large part due to the fact that he has been able to hit balls in the air rather than rolling over them and pounding them into the ground. In the game threads, a few of the readers and I have discussed this during the games, and it is good to see Morrison put some lift on the ball. When he does, these sorts of things happen.

Morrison was the only player who ended up delivering the Marlins some runs when hitters came up to scoring position. And while his performance in and of itself deserves merit, the team had to be once again frustrated during the game with the inability to drive in runs aside from Morrison. It was encouraging to see Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton start rallies with two outs in the inning to allow Morrison to hit, but in both instances, Greg Dobbs followed with outs or plays that were not able to score the run.

Two plays in particular served as another example of this season in microcosm form. Following Morrison's second double, Greg Dobbs singled on a ground ball to deep third base and was able to get aboard with an infield single with two outs. However, Morrison attempted to stretch his baserunning to the plate on the infield single and was promptly thrown out on a play very reminiscent of the one Jose Reyes was thrown out in a week ago against Boston.

Again, there is a breakeven point for attempting to score that run, and win probability can tell us what that is.

Base-Out State Win Probability WPA
Start: First and third, 2 outs, Tied 0.503 --
End: Runner on first, 2 outs, Up 1 run 0.627 0.124
End: Start next inning, Tied 0.437 -0.066

In this case, the breakeven point was better. The Marlins had to be right about 35 percent of the time in order to be correct to send the runner home. From the broadcast, it appears that Joe Espada attempted to hold Morrison, but Morrison ran through the sign, thinking he had that 35 percent chance. It is questionable, but while the breakeven point is lower on this play, the consideration must be made that Morrison is among the slowest players on the team as well. Fish Stripes readers, was that a play that Morrison makes 35 percent of the time?

The other frustrating microcosm event of this 2012 season and the month of June in particular occurred in the seventh inning when Jose Reyes got on third base with no one out due to an error. This situation closely mirrors his leadoff triple from last week. Once again, the Fish could not convert, as Ramirez struck out, Stanton lined out to short left field, and Morrison flied out, costing the team 0.197 WPA.

To a degree, yesterday's game was encouraging. The Marlins scored more runs than they had in two weeks, and they put up a fight through to the end of the game. They were able to drive in some runs in important situations. But some key instances still remind you of the struggles of June, and because Mark Buehlre and the Marlins pitching staff could not also deliver, the team suffered their 12th loss of the month. Once again, encouraging signs yield yet another loss, but at least this one leaves some hope for a better immediate future.

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