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Saturday, August 31, 2013
Morneau carrying a potent bat of late

By ESPN Stats & Information

Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsJustin Morneau will be getting his high-fives elsewhere after 11 seasons in Minnesota.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made another big move on the final day teams can acquire players in order to use them on their postseason roster, obtaining Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named later.

Let’s take a look at some of the notable statistical storylines related to this trade.

Power surge
Morneau has bumped his slugging percentage to .543 in August, thanks largely to nine homers this month, one more than he hit from April through the end of July.

The nine homers have come off a mix of fastballs (four) and offspeed pitches (five). The power increase has come even as Morneau’s miss rate against hard stuff (fastballs, cutters, sinkers, splitters) has jumped from 17 percent to 21 percent.

But Morneau has done a good job taking advantage of pitcher’s mistakes. He had one home run on 109 pitches that were defined as being in the middle of the strike zone, both width-wise and height-wise through the end of July. In August, he’s seen 37 pitches to that area and has four home runs.

Filling a need
Entering the day, Pirates left-handed hitters had a .229 batting average, .296 on-base percentage and .694 OPS. The former two ranked worst in the majors. The latter ranked seventh-worst.

Morneau is a particularly potent bat against right-handed pitching, with a .281/.343/.488 slashline.

He also provides slightly better defense at first base than the Pirates had been getting. He has four Defensive Runs Saved this season. The Pirates first basemen have combined for -3 Defensive Runs Saved.

A popular Twin says goodbye
Morneau’s Twins career has likely come to an end after 11 seasons. His 221 career home runs rank third on the team’s all-time list, behind Harmon Killebrew (475) and Kent Hrbek (293) and his 860 RBI rank fifth-best. He has the second and third-best single-season RBI totals in Twins history, with 130 in 2006 and 129 in 2008, trailing only Harmon Killebrew’s 140 in 1969.

Did You Know?
Morneau is 10-for-13 with two sacrifice flies with the bases loaded this season. That .769 batting average is best in baseball and a sharp turnaround from 2012, when he was 2-for-20 with the bases loaded.