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    Morse's big spring
    Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After missing the first two months of the season last year with a lat strain, Seattle Mariners outfielder Michael Morse (then with the Washington Nationals) suddenly couldn't elevate the ball.

    He hasn't had that problem this spring.

    Morse is tied for the major league lead with eight home runs in 52 at-bats.

    Fantasy owners should take spring stats with a giant shaker of salt, but they shouldn't ignore them completely. Especially when a guy who saw a spike in ground ball rate from 44 to 55.3 percent last season is knocking the ball out of the park once again.

    Morse had 31 homers and 95 RBIs with Washington in 2011, but he hit 18 and drove in 53 runs last season and experienced an 80-point decline in slugging percentage.

    He still displayed solid power when he got the ball in the air, as evidenced by his 23.4 percent HR/FB rate, up 2.2 percentage points from 2011.

    When he's hitting homers, the outfielder's combination of power and batting average makes him a coveted fantasy option.

    Morse hit .291 last season and has a three-year batting average of .296. This has been helped by a .339 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) over those three years, but he has hit for a high BABIP at every level in his career.

    He had BABIPs of .349 and .350 with the Mariners' Triple-A club in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and it was .379 with the Nationals' Triple-A team in 2009 after he was acquired from Seattle.

    However, Safeco Field could take a bite out of his HR/FB rate, and if more of his fly balls are turned into outs, it will impact his batting average.

    The Mariners moved the left-field fence in a whopping 12 feet, from 390 to 378, but the right-handed slugger is actually an opposite-field hitter.

    Morse has picked up 74 percent of his career hits and 74.3 percent of his career home runs either up the middle or to the opposite field, according to baseball-reference.com.

    And while Nationals Park is 370 feet in right-center field, Safeco Field's new right-center field dimension still is deeper than that at 381 feet.

    According to ESPN Stats & Info, not a single right-handed batter hit a home run to right field at Safeco Field in 2012.

    Still, fantasy owners shouldn't worry about the field dimensions when it comes to Morse. He is 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds and can put it out of any park in the majors. His homers traveled an average distance of 412.5 feet in 2011 and 402.8 feet last season.

    He also led all righties in opposite-field fly ball average distance in 2012.

    As long as he is hitting the ball in the air like he did in 2011 (36.5 fly ball percentage), he should hit close to 30 homers in 2013.




    Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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    Welcome to Great38 Tampa Bay WTTA-TV/DT - WFLA News Channel 8

    Welcome to Great38 Tampa Bay WTTA-TV/DT - WFLA News Channel 8

      Great 38: Win tickets to Daytona 500

      Updated:

      Here's your chance to win tickets to the 2015 Daytona 500. Entering is easy, simply fill out the entry form included. More>>

      • Great Stuff

      News Now: Media General CEO talks about his career, future for company Video included

      Updated:

      In December, LIN Media and Media General merged to create the second largest broadcasting company in the country. The former CEO and President of LIN Media, Vince Sadusky, was placed at the helm of the new and improved Media General. More>>

      Bill Schifino, Jr talks about being President-Elect of the Florida Bar Video included

      Updated:

      Earlier this month, Bill Schifino, Jr. was announced as the 2015-16 President-Elect of the Florida Bar. Schifino comes to this position with a strong resume. More>>

      Trio sets off on 900 mile trek across Florida Video included

      Updated:

      Joe Guthrie, Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, and Carlton Ward Jr. are embarking on a journey of a lifetime. The trio are setting off on a 70-day, 900 mile trek across the state???without any automobiles.
      More>>

      How this guide dog helps one blind triathlete chase her Paralympic dream

      Updated:

      Every time Paralympic hopeful Amy Dixon makes it to the end of another grueling triathlon, she knows her trusty companion will be waiting for her at the finish line. Sixteen years after she lost vision in her right eye, which she says she viewed as "a death sentence" at the time,  More>>

      Legoland Florida hotel to open in spring; built for kids

      LEGOLAND Florida photo LEGOLAND Florida photo
      Updated:

      Legoland Florida Hotel will welcome its first guests a month earlier than previously expected.During an announcement Thursday, Legoland executives announced May 15 as the revised opening date.  More>>

      3 rhinos escape from safari zoo, return safely Video included

      Updated:

      Three rhinoceroses escaped from their site at a safari zoo in Israel this week, NBC reported.  More>>

      VIRAL VIDEO: Bossy 4-year-old girl feeds 6 pit bull dogs

      Little Girl Controls Pit Bull Dogs | Future Dog Trainer, Jukin Video on YouTube Little Girl Controls Pit Bull Dogs | Future Dog Trainer, Jukin Video on YouTube
      Updated:

      A video of a very authoritative 4-year-old girl feeding six very obedient pit pulls in the middle of a kitchen has gone viral on the web and is prompting a heated debate about the pit bull breed.
      More>>

      8 fun things to do in Tampa Bay this weekend | January 17-18 Video included

      Updated:

      See 8 fun things happening this weekend in Tampa Bay!
      More>>

      'Birdman,' 'Budapest' top Oscar nominations with 9 nods each

      Updated:

      Two extravagant comedies, "Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel," tied for the most Oscar nominations Thursday morning with nine nods each, including best picture. More>>

      Out and About
      Powered by WorldNow

      200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

      Telephone: 813.228.8888
      Fax: 813.225.2770
      Email: news@wfla.com

      Can???t find something?
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      All content © Copyright 2000 - 2015 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.