Morton improved in second start

Charlie Morton allowed eight runs in his first start of the season. He allowed six more runs in his second start. On the surface, it may have looked like more of the same, but Morton showed some quantifiable improvement in his second appearance. Let’s start with the balls in play for each start.


  Ground Balls Fly Balls Line Drives Total Balls in Play
4/9/2010 2 4 8 14
4/14/2010 10 7 4 21
Total 12 11 12 35


MLB: Pirates vs Giants APR 14

Charlie Morton delivers in San Francisco on Wednesday - ZumaPress

The first game was simply a disaster. Over half of the balls put in play by the Diamondbacks were line drives. Morton, who has historically kept the ball on the ground at an above average rate, only induced two ground balls. On Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, Morton was much better. Unfortunately, he was the victim of some bad luck. A pitcher is generally able to control only the number of fly balls he allows. The distance those fly balls travel is usually dependent on the hitter. Morton only allowed seven fly balls on Wednesday. Unfortunately, two went over the fence, one went off the wall for a home run and one went off the wall for a double. On average, about 10%-12% of fly balls go for home runs, so the 29% (or 43%, if you include the inside-the-park home run) off Morton on Wednesday was disproportionate.

There are other numbers that indicate Morton is on the right track. He is striking out nearly a batter an inning to go with only one walk on the season. His fastball, on average, has been about 2 MPH faster than it was in 2009. He is generating swings-and-misses at an above average rate. He is stranding only 37% of base runners, which is well below both the league average (71%) and his career rate (65%). Opponents are bunching hits against him, another trend that suggests bad luck.

There are plenty of reasons to expect Morton to improve as we get deeper into the season, simply based on the law of averages. Of course, it would also help if he stopped leaving balls up in the zone to guys like Eli Whiteside.

Share This Article

Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.

Hague and Durham Power Curve; Power and Marauders Fall Short

Next Story »

Sanchez and Holt Lead Marauders in Rout; Power Win Home Opener

Latest Analysis

  • Jose Tabata

    The Details of Jose Tabata’s New Swing

    1 day ago

    On Friday I wrote about how Jose Tabata talked to Marlon Byrd over the off-season, aimed at changing his swing to add some leverage, lift the ball, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What Led to Keon Broxton’s Breakout Year in Altoona?

    2 days ago

    Keon Broxton used to be one of the top prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Baseball America ranked him as high as tenth in the system ...

    Read More
  • Adrian Sampson

    Don’t Forget About This Pitcher When Creating Your Pirates Dream Rotation

    3 days ago

    If you’re setting up a dream rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the not-too-distant future, then you’re going to be throwing out names like Tyler Glasnow, Gerrit ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Jose Tabata Changed His Swing After Talking With Marlon Byrd

    4 days ago

    Yesterday, Jose Tabata put one on the roof of the batting cages over the left-field fence at Pirate City. Today, he added two more. By that pattern, ...

    Read More
  • Antonio Bastardo

    How Ray Searage is Trying to Fix Antonio Bastardo’s Control Issues

    4 days ago

    Tony Watson has established himself as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Out of 142 qualified relievers last year, he ranked 21st in WAR, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Q&A: Will PNC Park Burn Down When Neil Walker Eventually Leaves?

    4 days ago

    Last week we started a Q&A article that will run every Friday. Right after the first article went up, we got a lot more questions. Normally I’ll ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles