Christopher Morel is Currently the Best Hitter in All of Professional Baseball

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Christopher Morel is Currently the Best Hitter in All of Professional Baseball

Chicago Cubs

I leave aside for the moment any discussion of what the Chicago Cubs should be doing relative to Christopher Morel’s assignment. I already said a bit this morning, and I don’t think it’s a question at this point that the Cubs should find a way to accommodate him at the big league level. Again, I leave that all aside for now.

Instead, I just want to note that, through the first month of professional baseball this year, Morel is the best hitter. In baseball. All of baseball – like, all levels.

Through the first month of the year, Morel is hitting .363/.463/.835 at Triple-A Iowa. His 219 wRC+ is tops in minor league baseball, even when you combine all four levels (minimum 80 PAs). In the big leagues, there actually is one other hitter sporting exactly a 219 wRC+, Matt Chapman with the Blue Jays. (Holy crap, Matt Chapman!) But I’m going to give the statistical tiebreaker to Morel, whose OPS is 150 points higher than Chapman’s.

I’m not sure I can remember a time, after a month of the season, where the Cubs had the statistical best hitter in all of professional baseball. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened. I just don’t have in my active memory a time when I could write that sentence about a Cubs player or prospect.

Obviously some of this is just having fun, as a month’s worth of dominance at Triple-A only tells you so much. But I do like that this is actually Morel’s first real run at Triple-A, and he is only 23. If we somehow ignore that he came up to the big leagues last year (and had some success!), it’s hard to think about how we would be talking about his start to the year at Triple-A. Like, if he had just spent all of 2022 at Double-A, which would’ve been age-appropriate, and hit very well. Then he gets the natural promotion to Triple-A … and does THIS. Wouldn’t we be over the freaking moon ga-ga about his potential?

I know the scolds here. We can’t ignore his time in the big leagues last year, which revealed that there are real swing-and-miss concerns against Major League-caliber stuff. And, sure enough, the Triple-A strikeout rate for Morel, even amidst this dominant month, is not good: 27.8%. You could respond to that by point out his only extreme run of strikeouts this year was in the first week, after which his strikeout rate is a more manageable 24.3% (and his wRC+ leaps to 229, by the way, lol). In the big leagues, that probably translates up toward or over 30%, and as we well know, it’s very hard to be productive with a strikeout rate that high.

… but it can be done. We don’t even have to look very far to see the model, as it’s Patrick Wisdom. You can be a solidly above-average player in the big leagues at the plate, even with a 33 to 38% strikeout rate, so long as you take a reasonable volume of walks, and absolutely hit the shit out of the ball. Morel, I’m just sayin’, does both of those things.

In a way, it’s actually kind of a challenge that the Cubs already have Wisdom on the roster, because Morel is so similar in so many ways. It’d be hard to get them both enough playing time, especially once you factor in the starts at 1B/DH that Matt Mervis WILL NEED TO be getting soon. (Fun fact: Morel’s OPS is more than 300(!) points higher than Mervis’s right now. And Mervis’s is almost 1.000!)

Anyway. I just wanted to point out today, while it’s true, that the Cubs currently have the best hitter in professional baseball. I love Christopher Morel.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.