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Thread: A Reason for Optimism: Charlie Morton

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    Default A Reason for Optimism: Charlie Morton

    A blog article at fangraphs explains why Charlie Morton would be a good "sleeper" fantasy pick and provides a glimmer of hope for Pirates fans....

    Here is an excerpt:

    "....The sinking fastball Morton utilized in 2009 has strikingly similar movement and velocity to the fastball that fellow sinkerballer Mike Pelfrey used in 2009. Pelfrey’s ground ball rate was 51% last year and is 50% over his big league career and the similiar movement and velocity on their pitches is no coincidence. Their sinkers stay on the ground.

    The Pirates had a solid defense in 2009 that helped their pitchers out. Their team UZR checked in at 30.1 but there was a lot of turnover on the field last year. Pitchers will miss the slick fielding Jack Wilson up the middle but Ronny Cedeno appears close to an average defender at shortstop (according to UZR but The Fans Scouting Report thinks he’s better) and Akinori Iwamura is slightly above average at second base. Pirates pitchers better be hoping last years nasty injury has no effect on his defense. Andy Laroche is a defensive asset at the hot corner and Andrew McCutchen will be a solid defender in center field this year with an improved Lastings Milledge in left. There are definitely some capable gloves that will be helping out Morton and Pirates pitchers in 2010.

    The downsides with Morton are his lackluster strikeout rate and the troubles he has had with left handed batters at the big league level. Morton will be no top of the rotation starter by any means but his true strikeout skill may lie between the 5.75 K/9 in the majors and 7.65 and 8.20 K/9 rates he had in Triple-A over the past two seasons. Morton has been dinged for not having a big out pitch. Baseball America did rate his curveball as the best in the Braves system in 2005 and last year in Pittsburgh it had a nifty pitch value at 4.1 runs above average. This is an encouraging sign.

    Morton’s platoon split thus far at the big league level is a concern. Last year lefties had a .923 OPS against him in the big leagues and a .939 OPS versus him in 2008 with Atlanta. Things check out nicely against right handers.

    After sifting through Morton’s splits in the minor leagues (dating back to 2005) there was nothing alarming about his performances against lefties. His absence of a third pitch may be a big factor with his struggles against lefties at the big league level but it’s possible the numbers may even out as the sample (321 MLB at-bats) increases over time.

    Morton’s sinking fastball, low home run rate, and improved control make for an intriguing package. He held his own in the big leagues last year and there’s reason for optimism in 2010 especially behind a solid defense..."

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    Default Re: A Reason for Optimism: Charlie Morton

    I'm with them. I think Morton can be very good. He definitely showed some nasty bite and movement on his pitches last year. His stuff is very good.

    I wouldn't look too much into his lefty/righty splits because of his limited MLB experience. That his minor league splits don't raise any flags is good enough right now.

    He definitely needs to get those K/9 numbers into the 7's. We've gotta have a starter that can at least hit league average in K/9's

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