Making the Grade: Ranking Designated Hitters in the AL Central

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No. 3: Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals

Apr 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales (25) hits a three-run home run during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have been red hot to start the season thanks in large part to the bat of Kendrys Morales.

After letting longtime designated hitter Billy Butler walk in free agency this offseason, the Royals went out and signed Morales, who was coming off a poor season split between Minnesota and Seattle.

Morales has responded by hitting .314/.364/.480 through the first month of the season, clubbing three home runs and driving in seven RBIs. While he is unlikely to continue that type of production throughout the duration of a 162-game season, Morales should significantly improve upon the ugly season that was 2014.

As Jason Ferrie of writes:

"This year, Morales is hitting line drives on 22.4 percent of his batted balls. If the season ended today, this would be the highest line-drive percentage of his career. The groundball rate for Morales is 47.1 percent this season—which is right in line with the 47.6 percent rate for his career. It appears that Morales has traded fly balls for line-drives. This year, Morales is hitting fly balls on 30.6 percent of his batted balls. During his career, Morales has hit a fly ball on 34.3 percent of his batted balls. This is a trade-off that is good for both the Morales and the Royals."

Only time will tell if Morales can continue that type of production for the Royals. If he can, Morales belongs in the same conversation with the top producers in this group. If he regresses, though, he could very well wind up toward the bottom of this list.

There’s room on either side.

Next: No. 2