This will be the final installment of my goals series for 2013.
Kendrys Morales will play a huge role in the development of the Mariners in 2013. He had a down year last year, due to missing the entire 2011 season with a broken leg. He hit 22 home runs and was on base at a clip of .320.
Morales had an all-star-esque season in 2009, batting .306 with 34 homers. That year, he posted a WAR of 3.4. He has not played well since breaking his leg in 2010. The Mariners, of course, are relying on him to bounce back to something reminiscent of 2009 form, but something even a bit less would make M’s fans everywhere happy.
Now for Kendrys’ goals.
1. Play 150 games.
Last year, Morales missed 28 games. This year, he needs to be healthy so he can find his new groove at the plate in a new ballpark. The M’s will have DH space available throughout the season, as they currently have Montero, last year’s DH, backstopping. Morales and Justin Smoak will likely split time at first and DH.
2. Hit 30 Home Runs
The M’s have had a serious power outage for several years. Only one M’s player has eclipsed 30 home runs in the last four seasons, and that was Russell Branyan, with 31, in 2009. The M’s have also had only three 20 homer seasons since 2009, Russell in 2009, Jose Lopez in 2009, and Kyle Seager in 2012. If Morales were to knock 30 over the new fences in 2013, he would be considered a successful trade, no matter what else he does.
3. Play Better than Jason Vargas.
This is unavoidable. Morales will be compared to Vargas for this season and likely the rest of his time with the Mariners. So how does he silence the doubters? Play well. Vargas projects to have a 1.9 WAR in 2013, while Morales projects to have one of 2.5.
Kendrys Morales has been tossed into a tough situation, for many reasons. There’s a logjam at 1st base. He’s playing in a new city. The M’s traded for him by sending away a fan-favorite. A brand new shiny contract. Not to mention he struggled in the second half of last season.
Morales will have to prove to fans that he has fully recovered from his injury in 2010. He will have to add to the M’s lineup, and not be a distraction.
Morales has the potential to be an all-star for the Mariners. Will he become one? Only time will tell. I think he will.