By Eno Sarris //
Biggest Surprise & Regression Alert: Mike Morse
Morse was once a light-hitting shortstop in the Mariners organization – his minor league slugging percentage (.425) and 513 minor league games at shortstop might surprise many that saw him play first base for the Nationals late in 2010 (and slug .519). If you look closer at the numbers, though, the power was developing as he aged (four of his five best slugging seasons came since 2009), and he hit a career high number of flyballs in 2010 (37.9%, 33.8% career), so the progression seems natural. That said, he still strikes out a bit much (24.1% in 2010), his .330 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) may not be sustainable (so the .289 batting average may fall), and the outfield is a little crowded in Washington. He’s probably best thought of as a late-round sleeper in very deep drafts next year.
Biggest Bust: Nyjer Morgan
His career-worst BABIP (.305) may not look so bad, but Morgan has no power (.077 career ISO, .145 is average) and lives by putting the ball on the ground and using his wheels to get on base. After three straight seasons of .350+ BABIPs before 2010’s “stinker,” it’s not outlandish to expect a return to better days for the mercurial Morgan. But in fantasy he’s mostly a one-category guy until that batting average returns. Leave him out there until the end of your drafts in 2011, but don’t count him out completely just because of a few run-ins with authority late in the 2010 season.
2011 Keeper Alert: Ian Desmond
We know Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn are fine keepers in the right leagues, and we know Ian Desmond is a flawed player. He doesn’t walk (5% career), he strikes out a bit much (20.3% career), and he’s poor on defense. Last year, his power also tapered off – his .124 ISO was lower than his career major (.145) and minor league (.129) ISO numbers. But ugly wins in deeper leagues, and his production in the ‘counting stats’ – 10 home runs and 17 stolen bases in particular – plays just fine at a tough position, and he’ll get more chances with plenty of job security. Don’t expect him to grow too much (especially considering his .259/.326/.388 minor league slash line), but if last year’s numbers were good enough to play in your league, he should be able to repeat them.