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Justin Morneau is healthy, but hitting just .223 with one homer in concussion comeback

May 18, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

Justin Morneau AP

The biggest question mark facing the Twins coming into the season was whether Justin Morneau would be in the lineup after missing the final three months of last season following a concussion.

Morneau got a late start in spring training, got a few days off early in the schedule, and has spent more time at designated hitter than ever before, but he’s been free of post-concussion symptoms while starting 34 of the Twins’ first 40 games.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t hit.

Morneau, who was batting .345 with a 1.055 OPS at the time of the concussion last July, has hit just .223 with one homer and a .617 OPS this season. In addition to non-existent power and a batting average 60 points below his career norms Morneau is also striking out more than usual and walking less than ever before.

This could be just an optimistic Twins fan talking, but Morneau has seemed fairly unlucky in terms of hard-hit balls hauled in by outfielders in the gaps, and his .264 batting average on balls in play is 30 points below his career mark. However, he’s also hitting fewer line drives and fewer deep fly balls, and Parker Hageman of Over The Baggy broke down Morneau’s swing mechanics and found that they’ve changed for the worse, which along with timing issues following nine months on the sidelines has led to his lack of production.

Morneau’s health was the elephant in the room all offseason, yet so far he’s been healthy, nearly everyone else on the roster has been injured, and the Twins have the worst record in baseball. It’s been that kind of season in Minnesota.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - May 18, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Dagnammit, Morneau! This is a big poo pie, which is my least favorite pie. Still better than cake though.

  2. bigtrav425 - May 18, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Silly me chose to keep him over Matt Cain on my keeper team too..oh well how can ya know this kinda sh*t…im rooting for the guy tho regardless of fantasy or not

  3. sknut - May 18, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    He may be healthy but due to the flu/virus he lost 15-20 pounds and hasn’t gained much if any back. I have to think that has some effect to his poor start as well.

  4. kennethmwangi - May 18, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    It will be interesting to see what happens if Morneau keeps hitting at this clip. I doubt they bench him for multiple games or send him down but at a certain point it will be painful to watch him hit like this for a whole season.

  5. purdueman - May 18, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Morneau wouldn’t be the first, nor the last, guy to get psyched out after having suffered a severe concussion. He may never come out of it to become the player that he was prior to suffering the concussion last season.

    As for his decline in power? I think by now it’s pretty clear that Target Field is psyching out any hitter with power on the Twins not named Jim Thome. Unfortunately, the aging (now 40), Thome can’t stay healthy anymore in order to be able to pick up Morneau or the loss of Mauer (as he did last season).

    I’m sure that the one thing that Twins management NEVER counted on was the now clear need to retool the current roster to better fit their new home yard, as the days of the bandbox Rollerdome are gone forever.

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