In the midst of a Toronto Blue Jays season approaching “darkest timeline” status, bright spots have been hard to come by.
Kendrys Morales has provided a sizeable one of late, however, going on a franchise-best home run streak of seven games. On Monday night he has the opportunity to tie the MLB record of eight games held by the trio of Dale Long, Don Mattingly, and Ken Griffey Jr.
It’s not exactly the most prestigious record in the game, but it would be an impressive feat and a reason to tune into an otherwise irrelevant Blue Jays-Orioles matchup. What are his chances of a making a little history, though?
Here’s how the breakdown looks:
The Base Rate
Whenever we’re taking a look at the likelihood of something happening it stands to reason that how often it normally occurs is a nice place to start.
In 1288 career MLB games Morales has 211 home runs, but more precisely he’s homered in 185 contests. That means on any given night history says there’s a 14.4 percent chance that he goes deep.
So, everything else been equal there’s about a one-in-seven shot something special happens on Monday – but there are a couple other factors that increase the chances.
David Hess is starting for the Orioles, which is great news for Morales. This year, Hess has an ugly 5.50 ERA, with an even uglier 6.11 FIP in 72 innings pitched. For the Blue Jays DH’s purposes, even more appealing is his 2.00 HR/9 – second highest among 162 pitchers with at least 70 MLB innings this year.
Morales has limited experience facing Hess, but in the six times they’ve done battle he has four hits against him and one home run. Add in the fact the 25-year-old is right-handed and Morales has crushed righties to the tune of a .289/.375/.549 line, and it would be hard to draw up a better candidate to take deep.
The Orioles bullpen has allowed an above-average 1.10 HR/9 as well, which means Morales’s chances don’t end when Buck Showalter takes the ball from Hess.
Camden Yards has a reputation for being a strong hitter’s ballpark, and that reputation is well-earned. According to ESPN Park Factors it’s the fifth-best place to clear the wall in the majors with a score of 1.195.
It’s also worth noting that Morales has raked in Baltimore in his career. In 128 trips to the plate at Camden Yards he’s hit .328/.383/.560 with 6 home runs. His .943 OPS there is his best in any ballpark he’s hit in more than 50 times.
Adding all the factors together it’s clear the stars are aligning for Morales to carve out a tiny piece of history for himself. That doesn’t mean his usual 1-in-7 jumps up to 50:50. It’s still more likely than not that the streak ends tonight.
Even so, this is about as good a chance as Morales could possibly expect. It’s a good enough chance to be worth watching two teams with a combined 97-164 record for — which is certainly saying something.
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