Two words that can easily sum up Max Moroff’s recent 30 game on-base streak: rhythm and timing. Rhythm and timing. Rhythm and timing. Those are the words that have been preached over and over to Moroff as he began this season, and he hasn’t been afraid to talk about it to any reporter or member of the media. His story has been consistent throughout this season.
“What are you doing differently this year compared to last?”
“I didn’t have great rhythm and timing. Now, I am working on that, and it’s worked for me.”
“What are you working on now?”
“I’m working on my rhythm and timing.”
Whatever Hitting Coach Kevin Riggs saw at the beginning of the season in Moroff’s swing certainly worked in his recent streak. Let the numbers speak for themselves.
Digging a little deeper, there was a twenty game stretch within the streak where Moroff had a slash line of .429/.479/.631 giving him an OPS of 1.110. For a second baseman without true home run power, that is quite impressive.
I wrote about Moroff and his chances to develop into an everyday Major League second baseman about two weeks ago, and he stressed to me about how the small changes in his swing have made the biggest difference in his performance. His hands are now slightly moving before the pitch is thrown, and he looks looser in the box.
What impressed me recently was something that happened after the game on May 15th, which happened to be the 30th game of his on-base streak. In that game, Moroff went 2 for 4 with a double, and every ball that he hit was on a rope. Two of those line drives just happened to be hit right at the opposing defense. I figured I’d go into the clubhouse and talk to a player who was happy with his performance that night; however, I found Moroff in the batting cage with catcher Jacob Stallings working from a tee. After about twenty minutes, I asked him why he was hitting after the game when it looked as if he hit so well that night.
“I just want to make sure that I can keep hitting solid line drives,” Moroff said. “I felt rushed during the game. It felt like I was speeding everything up at the plate. I just want to be sure I keep getting my rhythm and timing right.”
Later, he explained that he didn’t feel he swung at the best pitches and that he was going outside of his best hitting zone. The best way for him to continue to work on his swing was to go straight to the batting cage after the game and work on it right away.
Leading up to that game, I could have picked a dozen other players that needed to get in the cage more than Moroff. But, he was putting in the extra work. It was extremely impressive to see a player, who had just turned 22 two days prior and is on average two and a half years younger than others in Double-A baseball, being able to recognize what was important to continue to work on, even when things seemed to be going well.
The next night, Moroff’s on-base streak ended, but it wasn’t because he didn’t put in the work to continue it. He currently leads the Curve in hits, walks, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and OPS. His fielding has also been impressive, showing off his speed and athleticism, working with Gift Ngoepe in the middle infield.
After a long streak ends, a lot of players have a hard time getting the bat going again. The strikeouts were starting to creep back into Moroff’s game towards the end of the streak, and he looked bad at the plate in the two games following the end of the streak. It seems that he has been able to work out of the mini slump, though, going 4 for 7 without any strikeouts so far on the Curve’s trip to Portland.
Moroff has set himself up well for a late season move to Triple-A, especially if Alen Hanson goes to the big league club as a late season call up. If he continues this hitting throughout the year, he could force his way into the mix for the future second base opening in Pittsburgh.