Through his first 97 plate appearances, spanning 18 games, Chicago Cubs rookie Christopher Morel has proven to be a hard-nosed, high-energy presence for manager David Ross.
Coming off Saturday’s twin-bill, the 22-year-old Morel boasts a .297/.391/.486 line. Nine of his 22 hits have gone for extra bases and he’s been a spark plug atop the order, reaching base in all 19 games to this point – setting a new Cubs franchise record in the process.
He’s come up in the clutch on multiple occasions, including late in the night cap against St. Louis, when he roped a game-tying single into left field, sending Wrigley into sheer ecstasy.
Since Morel joined the Cubs back on May 17, the team has felt different, which I know is something that’s hard to quantify in any sort of objective way. He’s brought a missing energy back to the lineup, something that Javier Baez did for much of his time on the North Side. But just how long can he keep it up?
Remember. Morel skipped past Triple-A Iowa, making the jump to the big leagues straight from Double-A, where he posted a .945 OPS in 28 contests this season. There, he walked in just over eight percent of his plate appearances, while striking out 24.6 percent of the time. Since joining the Cubs, he’s walked at a 12.6 percent clip and struck out in 21.8 percent of his trips to the plate.
Cubs: Projections are anything but bullish on Christopher Morel
That’s not to say his production will fall off a proverbial cliff, but none of the projection services seem to have much faith in his ability to sustain what he’s done to this point. Steamer is the most bullish on Morel, and it pegs him for a 103 wRC+. Every other projection has him as a below-average offensive player moving forward.
If you dig a little deeper, it’s easy to see why they don’t expect Morel to continue to set the world ablaze as the season wears on. His numbers are bloated by a wholly unsustainable .370 BABIP which, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify, would rank among the top 12-highest marks in all baseball.
Of course, you look at the names at the top of that list and you see some of the game’s best hitters: Paul Goldschmidt, Tim Anderson, Xander Bogaerts – you get the picture. It’s not that you can’t live in that range, but more often than not, if you manage to do so, you’re not a 22-year-old rookie with less than 100 big league plate appearances under your belt.
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So all this to say, enjoy the ride right now. What Morel has done for this Cubs team over the last three weeks is nothing short of remarkable. Maybe he defies logic and continues to grind at-bats and come through in big spots. Or maybe this is an amazing stretch destined to end long before the season does. Only time will tell, but the data suggests the latter.