Morel on historic home run hot streak

May 23rd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian’s Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- If it feels like is launching baseballs at a historic rate for the Cubs, that is because it’s true. The list of players who have pieced together a stretch of games similar to Morel’s recent hot streak is a real who’s who of the long, storied history of the franchise.

A query into the 10-game stretches mirroring Morel’s recent run throughout Cubs modern history unearths the likes of Kris Bryant in 2016, Sammy Sosa in 1998 or 2001, Ryne Sandberg in 1990, Billy Williams in 1970, Ernie Banks in 1958 and Hack Wilson in 1930, among a small list of others. Simply put: the search reveals some of the greatest offensive seasons in team history.

“He’s hitting it pretty dang hard and pretty far when he makes contact,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “That’s just such a threat.”

In the ninth inning of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Phillies, Morel belted his eighth home run since rejoining the Cubs from Triple-A Iowa. In the process, Morel …

  • Joined Aristides Aquino (eight in 2019), Mike Schmidt (nine in 1976) and Luis Gonzalez (nine in 2001) as the only MLB players since 1900 to have at least eight homers in their first 11 games of a season. Thanks to’s Sarah Langs for that note.
  • Extended his streak with at least one hit and one run scored to 11 games. Only Hank Sauer (12 games in 1954) had a longer streak of that kind in modern Cubs history. In the Majors, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was the last to achieve the feat with a 12-game run in July 2021.
  • Ended the nine-game road trip with seven homers through Minnesota, Houston and Philadelphia. In Minneapolis, Morel blasted the Cubs’ two farthest homers of the season: a projected 461 feet into Target Field’s third deck in left on May 14 and 429 feet to the second deck in right on May 12.

In 40 games between the Majors and Triple-A Iowa this season, Morel is now batting .342/.418/.795 with 19 home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, 45 RBIs and 46 runs scored. That includes a .957 slugging percentage in his 11 games with the Cubs, with whom he has also struck out at a 37.5% clip.

“Christopher's far from the finished product when it comes to his plate discipline,” Cubs hitting coach Dustin Kelly said. “We're never going to take the aggressiveness away from him. I think you have to live with the swing and miss.”

Kelly explained that a focus for Morel right now is to identify his damage zones and to learn to “eliminate pitches” in the process. The hitting coach said that is especially the case with elevated fastballs. Going into Sunday, Morel had an expected SLG of .849 on heaters (all types) in the upper-third (and just above) the zone in his small sample of ’23 at-bats. That mark was .452 last year.

“He’s just going to get better and better,” Kelly said. “They just start to figure out, not necessarily what the top of the strike zone is, but the top of their zone and how they handle those pitches.”

It was clear that the 23-year-old Morel had nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues. He forced the Cubs’ hand with relentless production and has not let off the gas. Now, Ross is looking for ways to keep Morel involved, moving him all over the infield and outfield, or slotting him in as a designated hitter. 

“What I love about Mo,” Ross said, “is he just plays with a passion, and loves to go out there and play no matter where we put him in the lineup, no matter where I put him in the field. 

“He comes in with a real threat in the bat, real aggressiveness, real athleticism all over the field. And I’m excited to continue to see his career develop.”