The Chicago Cubs have been decimated with injuries this season, with Cody Bellinger, Nico Hoerner, Yan Gomes, Kyle Hendricks, Jameson Taillon and Seya Suzuki all spending extensive time on the injured list.
That kind of roster turnover makes it all the more curious why it took until May 8 for the team to recall Christopher Morel from the minors.
In Chicago’s 7-2 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday, Morel hit a home run in his fifth straight game, becoming the first Cub to do so since Sammy Sosa did it in his historic 66-home run season of 1998.
That homer was his ninth of the season overall, making him the first player in baseball to hit nine dingers in his first 12 games of the season since former Cub Luis Gonzalez did it for the Diamondbacks in 2001. In fact, only one player in MLB history has ever done it quicker. That would be Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who did it in 11 games in 1976.
The second-year utilityman is hitting .367 in those 12 games, with 15 RBI, 17 runs scored and a staggering 1.383 OPS, which would far and away be leading all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify statistically.
That shouldn’t be a problem for long, since it would be hard to fathom the Cubs sending Morel back down to the farm anytime soon. The one thing Morel has in his favor is that he plays almost every position on the field, having spent time at second base and all three outfield spots through 12 games, as well as three starts at DH.
In addition to that, as a rookie last season, he played 18 games at third and 13 games at short. So as long as he keeps hitting, there’s no excuse for any one player to keep him out of the lineup.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, they’re just 4-8 in their last 12 games. But you certainly can’t fault Morel for that. He already ranks 16th in the National League in home runs, despite playing in just 26 percent of Chicago’s games. But if you ask Cubs manager David Ross, he certainly isn’t surprised by what he’s seeing.
It would certainly be impossible to keep up such the pace he’s on now, but if he can avoid a slump of any length between now and July, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t find himself on the All-Star team. Wouldn’t that be something for a guy who spent the first 31 games of the year in Triple-A Iowa?