Max Moroff is currently on a 27-game on-base streak and a 11-game hitting streak. He is hitting for a .452/.478/.619 line in the month of May. The only game that he has not reached base this year was the season opener. It would be an understatement to say that he’s having a good start to the season.

Moroff talked recently about some minor changes to his hitting approach that has led to his success this year.

“I’ve been working with [Hitting Coach Kevin] Riggs in the cage, and he mentioned changing my rhythm before the pitch is even thrown,” Moroff said. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t have great rhythm. I’ve just worked on it and have been [successful] since. That has been key for me.”

Moroff said that his hands and feet have some movement pre-pitch now. I did not notice any difference in his feet; however, I did see some difference in his upper body. Before the pitcher gets into his windup, Moroff has more movement in his arms and hands. You can see him constantly re-gripping the bat with his bottom hand before the pitcher throws through the end of his windup. He is also wagging his bat quite noticeably, now.

Not only has he changed his batting rhythm, he has also changed his approach at the plate. Moroff has been known as a very patient batter, almost to a fault. He has backed away from the batter’s box and is now looking to drive fastballs that are middle-to-away on the plate.

“I’m being a little more aggressive [at the plate],” Moroff said. “When I get a fastball over the plate, I’ve been very aggressive going after it. I have backed off the plate a little bit when I was a little close to the plate before.”

The changes at the plate have translated to fewer strikeouts and more line drives, without sacrificing his walk rate. Moroff’s strike out rate and isolated power show you these results. Here are Moroff’s numbers from the past three years:

Max Moroff

2013

2014

2015

K%

20.2%

24.2%

13.7%

BB%

12.8%

10.1%

11.3%

AVG

.233

.244

.358

ISO

.112

.096

.160

BABIP

.286

.332

.409

The reduced strike out rate, higher isolated power, and higher BABIP stand out. On one hand, you can say that Moroff’s streak could be due to luck because of the inflated BABIP. On the other, the strike out rate being cut in half has a lot to do with Moroff’s recent success.

Odds are that he will regress to something closer to his .332 BABIP last year. The flip side of the story shows a change in approach that has resulted in far fewer strikeouts. He is jumping on pitches early, rather than waiting until later in the count this year. Since Moroff is a line drive hitter, the reduction of strikeouts attributes a lot to his success. If he has truly changed his approach at the plate compared to recent years, a lower strike out rate has the chance to be sustained. That will result in more balls being put in play and, consequently, more hits.

Can Moroff keep this up? Looking strictly at the numbers, he is bound to regress some. It is extremely rare, if not impossible, to sustain a BABIP over .400. Moroff is probably the beneficiary of some luck in this early season. However, his line drive stroke is real, and he has not shown any sign of it going away. As long as he can continue to strike out less, there is no doubt in my mind that Moroff can hit for a high average. When you combine his average, walk rate, and line drive power with his speed and defense, you have a guy who has a chance to develop into an everyday Major League second baseman.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I know Alan Hanson is faster, but other than that, how does he and Moroff compare as second base prospects – hitting, fielding, etc? It seems like Hanson was the best thing since sliced bread 2-3 years ago, but since then his prospect status has seemingly plateaued – possibly even regressed to some extent. On the other hand, Moroff has come out of oblivion to become a prospect worth the conversation now.

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