Mark Hornbaker: Can Morse stay in "Beast Mode" long enough to win batting title?

The Washington Nationals' first baseman Michael Morse, is putting up some offensive numbers Washington baseball fans haven't seen in nearly a half century. The 29-year-old Morse has a legitimate shot at winning the 2011 National League batting title.

Currently Morse is third in the NL with a batting average of .324 and trails only Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers who has an average of .326 and league leading Jose Reyes of the New York Mets who is batting .336 in 98 games.

If Morse does win the batting crown he will become the first Washington player to win a batting title since Mickey Vernon (.337) edged out, Al Rosen (.336) for the 1953 American League batting title.

What makes Morse's numbers so special is he is not only hitting singles he is crushing the ball all over the field and of course, out of the field. Of the 117 base hits Morse has hit this season 46 have been extra base hits.

When Morse who is 6' 5" in height and weighs in at a lean and mean 230 pounds, makes contact with the ball he usually knocks the cover off of it. Ever since Morse started at first base against the Baltimore Orioles on May 22, 2011, he has been making some really solid contact with the ball.

I think the reason for the improved hitting has to do with his starting at first base since May 22. Before his first start of the season at first base, Morse had a batting average of .257 with only two home runs and 11 RBIs in 36 games. Since May 22, Morse has a batting average of .352 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs in 68 games. I believe he found his groove at first base, I don't think he looked nearly as comfortable in left field as he looks when he plays first base.

On May 23, in Milwaukee, Morse started to mimic the slogan on his t-shirt when he dialed into "Beast Mode" and went on to hit three home runs and knocked in eight runs during the three-game series with the Brewers. It didn't stop there in Milwaukee, for Morse he has been in "Beast Mode" ever since. It is hard to believe a player with so much power has not gone more than two consecutive games without a hit since May 22.

If Morse can maintain "Beast Mode" for the next month and a half, I don't see why he cannot become fourth player in Washington D.C. baseball history to win a batting title.

Washington Batting Champions:
1953 - Mickey Vernon .337
1946 - Mickey Vernon .353
1935 - Buddy Myer .349
1928 - Goose Goslin .379

Mark Hornbaker blogs about the Nats at Nationals Daily News and shares his views on baseball in D.C. as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of the Internet. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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