Things You Might Not Have Known About Charlie Morton

This season hasn’t gone too well for the two main components of the Braves-Pirates trade from last season. Nate McLouth‘s production declined a bit last season after his move to Atlanta, and he has completely fallen off this year. Pittsburgh got three players in return, though the most major league ready was Charlie Morton. He broke camp in the Pirates’ rotation this year, and has been one of the more notable 2010 disasters. It’s hard to ignore some of Morton’s crazy stats.

He has the NL-worst ERA, though you might not know it

If you go to the NL pitchers leaderboard and sort by ERA, you’ll see Edwin Jackson‘s name atop the list. That’s strange, because Morton’s ERA is over three runs worse than Jackson’s. That’s because Morton doesn’t have enough innings to qualify. He has made 10 starts, which puts him in a massive tie for second in the NL, but has thrown only 43.1 innings. Four and a third innings per start will not get the job done.

xFIP might like him a bit much

Not only is Morton’s ERA 9.35, but his FIP sits at 6.46, which is one of the worse ones I can remember. Yet his xFIP sits at just 4.38. This might lead some to think that he’s getting unlucky on fly balls, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Morton has a 30 percent fly ball rate and a 25 percent HR/FB ratio. Yet he also has a 24.4 percent line drive rate. I wonder how many 12 home runs he has allowed have come on line drives. That number could certainly alter a perception of ill luck.

His strand rate is crazy low, but…

Morton currently has a 49.1 percent strand rate, which at some point should change. It has already, really, as it has been 60 percent in May after 38 percent in April. On the road, though, he has a 38.5 percent strand rate. That’s pretty insanely low.

It’s not just his strand rate

The road hasn’t been a kind place for Morton. He’s striking out more hitters there and walking fewer, but everything else is worse. And by everything I mean his home run rate is off the charts. Of the 12 he has surrendered 10 have come on the road. His WHIP sits at 2.05, his BABIP is 4.18, his LD% is 28.6, and his HR/FB is 33.3.

When the going gets tough, the tough get Morton

Morton has faced only 12 batters in high leverage situations — when you average 4.1 IP per start you tend to miss out on those dramatics. Of those 12 hitters, six have picked up hits, producing eight runs, seven earned. All 12 have put the ball in play, and five have hit the ball on a line. Another five have hit it on the ground, though, so he has that going for him. Which is nice.

GAB didn’t help

Morton faced the Reds last night at the Great American Ballpark, and it went about as poorly as possible. In two innings he allowed eight hits, including two homers, and walked three. Yet he did strike out two, keeping up his 8.88 K/9 rate on the road.

Randy at Pittsburgh Lumber Co. thinks they should send Morton to Indy. His next start comes against the Cubs at home, so maybe the Pirates will give him one more shot before going with Jeff Karstens or Daniel McCutchen. But man, his numbers are really something else this year.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

15 Responses to “Things You Might Not Have Known About Charlie Morton”

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  1. kris says:

    I love when columnists spare the snazzy transitional words in the english language and just write in simple BOLDED-POINT followed by PROOF form.

    It’s like a choose your own adventure when it comes to baseball. I can opt to read or skip to the next point without missing too much.

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  2. Adam R. says:

    Dave Cameron rightly predicted a year ago that Jeff Locke would be the main component of the trade on the Pirates side.

    Good point about the line drive home runs.

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    • Mr. Sanchez says:

      And what is Locke doing to earn that claim? He may have nice potential, but at this point he’s having a nice year, in his third full season of A ball following two in rookie ball. He’s not exactly a prize right now, although no one in that trade is.

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  3. Pat says:

    Poor Charlie, I feel so bad for him. He shown some promise last season, it makes no sense that he can regress so badly. I think it’s awful that he’s still in the rotation. He needs to go back to the minors to get his confidence back or just take a break from pitching because he’s clearly not pitching out of his struggles.

    I’ve watched pretty much all of his starts this year, and it’s tough to say what he’s doing wrong, other than pretty much everything. He does have good velocity at least and the stuff that makes you think he can dominate, but it seems like he can’t put away hitters with two strikes. Also, his biggest problem is when he’s in trouble he just launches fastballs right over the heart of the plate. I don’t care what xFIP says, it’s not bad luck when you set the ball on a tee for the hitters. The HR that Rolen got a hold of could have been belted out of the park by a little league hitter.

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  4. E Dub says:

    I was at the game last night. FWIW, neither of these homers was a line drive, that’s for sure. Rolen’s was a lofty parabola and Bruce’s was a majestic blast about nine or ten rows from the top of the RF stands. The last time I saw Morton pitch was against AZ at the beginning of the season and he showed the same promising stuff (94s on the FB and a good breaking ball) and poor results last night as he did that one. He was clearly rattled from the start and aiming the ball; bad posture was visible from the bleachers. I was relieved (no pun intended) when they pulled him after two. I feel awful for any player who struggles like this.

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  5. correcting person says:


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  6. MattBandi says:

    FWIW, StatCorner tracks home runs per ball in air. Morton is way above average in that category too.

    Just going from memory, I would say at least 9 of the 12 HR have been on fly balls.

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  7. Professional Editor says:

    Just got placed on 15-day DL for “shoulder fatigue.” Mmmm hmmm ….

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  8. Sean says:

    Nice Caddyshack reference.

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  9. Redsfan says:

    The Reds play at Great American Ballpark, not THE Great American Ballpark. Great American is an insurance company that sponsors the ballpark. You wouldn’t say the Pirates play at THE PNC Park or the Cubs play at THE Wrigley field. Other than that great article and GO REDS!

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  10. Circlechange11 says:

    At this point the only thing Morton can throw that hitters won’t tee off on is a tantrum. I’ve went through a spell like this before and not only is it frustrating but also confusing b/c he’s likely not doing anything drastically different than he was when he was successful (relative).

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