David Ross hit a home run by moving Christopher Morel out of the leadoff spot

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

After a hot start, Chicago Cubs rookie Christopher Morel hit a wall in June offensively, prompting third-year manager David Ross to pull the spark plug out of the leadoff spot, dropping him down to ninth in the batting order the last two nights against Cincinnati.

To say the move has worked well would be a dramatic understatement. In those two contests, Morel went 7-for-9 with two home runs and 4 RBI – including a 5-for-5 contest on Thursday night, the first five-hit effort of his young career.

Now, it remains to be seen if this hot stretch carries into the month of July but, at least initially, it looks like Ross made the right call. Out of the nine-hole, Morel can help turn the lineup over and set the table for guys like Ian Happ and Willson Contreras – without the pressure that comes with leading off.

Prior to the change, dating back to June 5, Morel carried a slash line line of just .217/.250/.386 and was a walking strikeout at the top of the lineup. In 19 games during that span, Morel punched out a staggering 36 times compared to just four walks and did not have a single game without a strikeout.

During his first 19 games as a Cub, Morel boasted a slash line of .297/.391/.487 and struck out just 19 times with 11 walks to his credit. The differences between his first 19 games and the subsequent 19 games cannot go unnoticed.

The offense just has not been there for Morel lately but that was bound to happen at some point. He never posted any insane numbers in the minor leagues and skipped Triple-A to head straight to Chicago in May.

While his regression was expected, it was still somewhat disappointing and even alarming given the severity of his drop-off in production in June. The time was right to move him down in the lineup. He began his career at the bottom of the lineup sheet and was successful in the process so hopefully, this will help get him back on track.

If Morel wants to be a focal point of the future, he has to find a way to stick in the lineup without causing damage at the top. He needs to do a better job of putting the ball in play and letting his athleticism create havoc on the base paths.

Cubs: Christopher Morel will have an opportunity to prove himself

Morel’s cooling off was hard to watch at times but baseball tends to serve things up this way for a lot of talented players. They all have their struggles at some point but finding a way to get over the mental hurdle is what separates the good from the great.

One thing working in Morel’s favor is his age and the ability to option him to Iowa if he struggles moving forward. He can always head back to the minor leagues to polish his game and get quality at-bats without jeopardizing his confidence as a hitter.

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Hopefully, though, all that proves irrelevant after Ross’ decision to move him out of the leadoff spot. Two games isn’t enough to draw hard conclusions, but it’s safe to say things have dramatically improved since Morel slid down in the order.