One of the questions leading up to the 2012 season for the Angels was if Kendrys Morales, after being out of baseball with a terrible ankle injury, could return to his power-hitting form. Twenty-four games into the season, that question largely still remains.In 71 plate appearances, Morales is batting .299/.338/.388 with one home run, six RBIs and three doubles. In this still very small sample size but Morales' batting average and on-base percentage are hovering around his 2009 and 2010 numbers while the slugging percentage has taken a bit of a hit. Still, it's early. After being out of baseball for so long, it's fair to say that thus far, Morales' return has been successful. Yet, the question remains: will Morales return to his hitting form? A closer look at the numbers reveal polarizing splits that put the jury still out on what kind of hitter Morales will be this year.
One of the more interesting, but not necessarily revealing, numbers are in his home/away splits. In Anaheim, Morales is putting up a .444/.459/.611 line with all of three of his doubles and his single home run coming at Angels Stadium. Outside of Anaheim, Morales is hitting a meager .129/.206/.129 in almost the same amount of plate appearances (34) as he has at home (37). To be fair, though, Morales has faced tougher pitching on the road against the Yankees and the Rays.
The difference between hitting left-handed versus right-handed is even more skewed. From the left-side Morales is putting up .339./.383/.446 while in 11 plate appearances as a right-handed hitter Morales has a single hit. Morales's career stats, though, reveal that he has always been a better hitter from the left-side and judging from the spare amount of plate appearances that Morales has from right-side, Scioscia and company seem well aware of this.
While we will have to see whether Morales' power returns, keeping him in the lineup against right-handed pitching, like Scioscia has done, is likely the best plan of action for an offense that is struggling to put people on base and score runs . In fact, for a team that is batting .226 with runners in scoring position, it's encouraging that all six of Morales' RBI's have come with runners in scoring position.
One month into the season, Morales power has not fully returned. Yet, his clutch hitting and success from the left-side of the plate is encouraging , especially when platooning the DH spot with power-hitting Mark Trumbo who has showcased an ability to mash from the right-side against left-handed pitchers.
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