Kendrys Morales’ tenure in Toronto has been polarizing to say the least.
He joined the organization last offseason on a three-year, $33 million deal as a cheap replacement for fan favourite Edwin Encarnacion. Despite hitting 25 home runs with 85 RBIs, his season would end in disappointment as he finished with a -0.2 WAR. It didn’t get any better to start 2018, as he landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and upon returning strung together a hitless streak of 27 at-bats — the worst of his career.
But since the middle of May, the 35-year-old DH has been nothing short of outstanding. And on Monday, he had his franchise-record run of seven straight games with a home run come to an end.
Kendrys Morales' OPS in his first 26 games this year: .493
Morales OPS since then (82 games): .931
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) August 26, 2018
Morales’ turnaround is impressive, but it’s not entirely surprising given the way he approaches the game on a daily basis.
“Even (John Gibbons), he’s like listen that guy is one of the best guys I’ve ever managed,” former Blue Jay J.P Arencibia said on the latest episode of the Digging In With J.P. Arencibia. “And I asked him why and he said it’s because he’s the same guy every single day. When he was struggling, he was the same guy. And he’s the same guy now. And that’s why he’s able to go out there after a slow start and still finish the way he’s finished … He is the epitome of the pro.”
It’s those intangibles that could make him a valuable member of a Blue Jays team that is in the early stages of a rebuild, especially for Latin American players like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Aledmys Diaz and most importantly Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“If you have a guy like [Morales] on the team, he’s going to help those players produce and grow and that’s why for me he’s even more valuable than what people look at in the numbers,” Arencibia said. “He’s going to be instrumental to the development of those two guys, and when they see him and watch him and the way he goes about his business, that’s going to make them better pros and those are things you can’t really calculate in the stats.
“It is enormously valuable to have somebody who speaks Spanish who is a good example for these guys. If you have a person like Kendrys Morales, an absolute A-plus person in the clubhouse and a professional, he’s going to make everyone around him that much better.”
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