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« Too Fast for Wes | Main | Josh Johnson adds a sinker? »
Monday
Mar212011

When it Rains, it Pours

The 2010 season proved to be a triple whammy from Charlie Morton.  A low strikeout pitcher, Morton needs the help of his defense with all the balls he allows to be put in play.  Pittsburgh went from a good defensive team in 2009 to the worst in 2010, according to FanGraphs.  So Charlie saw his BABIP so from .315 in 2009 to a high .353 in 2010.

Of course, Morton doesn't pitch in a way that helps himself.  Batters hammered his fastball for a .378 BABIP, and slugged .571 on the pitch.  Why?

Charlie Morton fastballs, 2010.Charlie throws a 92-93 MPH fastball down the middle of the plate with little movement.  The major movement is slightly down, putting the ball at a good angle for an uppercut home run.  Serving up meatballs like that, batters smacked line drives on over 23% of the balls they put in play.  So a combination of balls that were easy to hit and poor defense behind him left Morton with a 7.57 ERA in 2010, three runs higher than the previous year.

When someone allows a BABIP that high, there's often bad luck involved.  While the bad defense was out of Charlie's control, putting fastballs over the heart of the plate wasn't.  Unless he can hit the corners more often, even an improved Pirates defense won't help him much.

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