Christopher Morel Forcing Cubs to Keep Him by Playing Like His Hair’s on Fire

Christopher “Electric Factory” Morel was at it again Tuesday night, taking center stage in a rally that pushed the Cubs to a rare comeback victory. Maybe he read my piece from a few days ago about how he’d probably be the victim of an impending roster crunch, because he may have just solidified a spot in perpetuity. Even if we take away his record-setting start, Morel’s unadulterated joy radiates to all those who see him play and is almost enough to make you forget how bad the Cubs are right now.

His triple off the wall extended his hitting streak to 11 games and an earlier walk pushed his on-base streak to 14 games. That latter mark set a franchise record for most to start a career, and you get the sense that he’s been equally excited about each event.

Okay, maybe the home run in his first at-bat sits in its own category. Tuesday’s triple was right up there, though, to the point that Morel overslid third base by a few feet because he was flying at approximately Mach 3 when he arrived. Right fielder Tyrone Taylor had been making a habit of stealing hits, so it felt inevitable that he’d do it again as he tracked Morel’s sharp fly. But by the time Taylor’s glove came down with nothing but ivy, the rookie was already well on his way to second.

He scored on a very similar hit by Willson Contreras, though the catcher hit it to left to victimize Christian Yelich and then watched the ball for about 15 seconds before getting moving. Morel motored home, signaling a fair ball the whole way, and Contreras came in on a Frank Schwindel double after acknowledging his earlier mistake.

This all followed a P.J. Higgins two-run shot, giving the Cubs four tallies in the frame and setting the stage for a big Patrick Wisdom homer. So how is it that a triple could realistically be viewed as the play of the game?

“Morel brings the energy,” Contreras said. “He brings a lot of things to the table. What I like the most is that — like I’ve said before — he’s never mad. He’s never concerned about anything. I think that’s one thing that lets him play the way he’s playing right now. He deserves to stay here.”

With all due respect to Wisdom, whose rocket delivered the win and who displayed an impressive vertical when he got up to celebrate with third base coach Willie Harris, Morel gets the edge. The young man is a whole-ass mood unto himself, the personification of unadulterated ebullience in a Cubs uniform who has somehow managed to fill the team’s sails even as they navigate these doldrums. Sure beats waiting on the trade winds, though nothing can postpone the inevitable.

Whatever happens between now and early August, you can bet Morel will take center stage. His statistical production is obviously a big part of that, but more is how he plays the game. You can’t take your eyes off of him, and that’s not just fanboy talk.

That saying, ‘Playing with your hair on fire,'” said the manager. “But, he’s calm in the box, taking his walks. But when the ball touches his bat and he gets ready to throw the ball and goes after balls, there’s a lot of electricity in that.”

The Cubs need every last ounce they can get to jumpstart their rebuild, particularly if trades involving Contreras and pitchers mean they need a new battery. That’s why the rookie needs to stay up regardless of how many veterans come back from the IL. Call it a Morel obligation.

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