Expecting Nyjer Morgan to star again in Milwaukee this season was a touch unrealistic. Morgan has shown he’s capable of great things — 2011’s combination of great play and maniacally excellent timing and 2009’s initial breakout in Washington shine. But he’s also capable of complete collapse — three times he’s posted a wRC+ above 100, and the next season he’s gone on to be well below average. 2012 has been no different. Morgan carries a .235/.303/.290 slash line into Monday’s action.
Morgan turns 32 on Monday and should be in the starting lineup on his birthday against Marlins right-hander Carlos Zambrano. The birthday start gives him a chance to carry his solid June play over and make his early-season struggles a more distant memory. Morgan hit .268/.339/.429 in 19 June games, notching his first two home runs and first four RBI. It’s still a step down from his .304/.357/.421 performance in 2011, but the old Nyjer Morgan is beginning to show through again.
And if the Brewers are to make any run towards the postseason, the old Morgan will have to show up. He gives the Brewers much needed flexibility when he’s on his game. Carlos Gomez still can’t hit righties — .222/.269/.431 in 72 at-bats. Morgan fills that hole well and gives the Brewers speed and defense off the bench against left-handed pitching.
We saw the absolute peak of Morgan’s value in that role last season — he was consistently excellent in the outfield, on the bases, and in the clutch. He very well might never reach that level of production again in his career, whether in Milwaukee or elsewhere. Over the past month we’ve seen that he can still serve a very useful purpose. If the Brewers are to create their own hot streak to beat long odds and reach the postseason this year, they’ll need the solid and steady production even a slightly muted Nyjer Morgan can provide. Anything more — like the magic Nyjer Morgan gave the team in 2011 — is a bonus.