One of the more pleasant surprises of the 2011 season was third baseman Brent Morel. Mark Teahen started the season at third base for the Sox but Morel was determined to get into the starting lineup and he showed that any time he got a chance to play.
Teabag Teahen went down with an oblique strain in May which gave Morel the opportunity to take over the starting third base job. Morel played his heart out and won the starting spot, forcing Kenny Williams to trade Teahen to the Blue Jays. In that same trade now World Series champion Edwin Jackson went to the Cardinals. Who saw that happening? Nobody? Yeah.
Brent’s skills have been compared to those of Joe Crede, a comparison that I wholeheartedly agree with. The 24-year-old Morel resembles Crede in a lot of aspects except the power area and he’ll only get better as he gains more experience. Morel played 126 games last year, collecting 101 hits in 413 at-bats for a batting average of .245. He only hit ten home runs last year but he drove in 41 which, though not great, is a lot better than we expected from a kid we knew nothing about. So what should we expect?
Going into 2012 I think it’s fair to set the expectations at a reasonable level. A .265 batting average with 15 home runs and 60 batted-in seems achievable for a full 162-game season with a day off here and there. Anything better than that would be great but I’m still curious to see what this kid becomes offensively. Will he hit for average? For power? A bit of both? I haven’t seen enough of him to make a decision yet so hopefully this year we’ll get a better look at what he can do at the plate. As for his defensive skills it’s safe to say that not much will get past the left side of the Sox infield. Ramirez and Morel are two underrated defenders and they’ll surprise some people.
Morel’s 2011 was a good start to the second coming of Joe Crede and I look forward to his 2012 campaign. Be it with some more pop in his bat or a higher OBP (.287 last year) I know for sure he will contribute. Barring, of course, a terrible injury. Which would suck.