In 2008, one in every three fly balls hit by a relatively unknown utility man by the name of Ben Zobrist went for a home run in September. In 2009, Zobrist hit 27 home runs in a breakout year that deserved serious MVP consideration.
But in September of 2009, a different unknown utility player had a higher home run per fly ball rate in September. In 2010, that player hit 54 home runs. Jose Bautista, seemingly overnight, became the best power hitter in baseball.
In September of 2010, Michael Morse found himself on that same home runfly ball leaderboard that springboarded Zobrist and Bautista. He hit 31 home runs in 2011.
And now the fun part: Brent Morel found himself on that September home runfly ball leaderboard last year. While the methodology is hardly scientific, it's enough to lead Lewis Pollis of Beyond the Box Score to tab Morel as a breakout player for 2012. Here's how he sums it up:
"There's a big sample size caveat here and I'm not suggesting that Morel's gaudy September numbers are completely indicative of a new true talent level. But a late-season swing (pun intended) as dramatic as his shouldn't necessarily be dismissed as a fluky hot streak, especially since some of his other numbers changed towards the end of the year too. It's important to remember the huge role of luck in baseball and the dangers of reading too much into small sample sizes, but surely that Zobrist, Bautista, and Morse all broke out after huge Septembers has to mean something. And besides, I hear the jury's still out on science."
Morel won't be the next Jose Bautista in terms of production (although, man, that'd be nice, right?), but if his September wasn't a fluke, maybe the Sox offense will get a much-needed jolt from a fairly unexpected source.