2022 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Charlie Morton

PENNSYLVANIA, PA - OCTOBER 14: Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves looks on during the National Anthem before game three of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 14, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)
PENNSYLVANIA, PA - OCTOBER 14: Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves looks on during the National Anthem before game three of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 14, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) /
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Charlie Morton was a rotation staple for the Atlanta Braves in 2022. He led the team in starts and tossed 172 innings and this was after fracturing his leg during the 2021 World Series. Unfortunately, it was a down year for the veteran starter considering how great he’d been in recent years.

Morton was third in innings pitched on the team and often struggled to go deep in games started. Runs were also easy to come by for opponents when he took the mound for the Braves. The final ERA for Charlie in 2022? It was 4.34 and for a pitcher of his stature, that is definitely not great. However, as mentioned above, Morton was coming back from an injury and it could have possibly factored into his performance.

How did Charlie Morton perform in 2022?

It wasn’t all bad as Morton is a veteran and still had a run of great pitching. From the beginning of July until the end of August, he had a 3.28 ERA (3.74 FIP) and opponents only slashed .193/.276/.343 against him.

Other than that, his performance was less than ideal for the Braves. His combined ERA outside of the dates mentioned was 5.07 and absolutely makes sense when thinking back on how many of his starts went down.

Charlie would look incredibly sharp early on but would run into a massive wall an inning or two later and before you knew it, Atlanta was down 2 or 3 runs. Definitely not a successful formula if a pitcher wants to have a successful season especially coming off winning a World Series title.

The numbers point to Morton not being as consistent as he’d been just a year prior. His hard-hit ball percentage and walk rate increased while his strikeout rate dipped. Those numbers respectively were 42.1%, 8.7%, and 28.2%.

In comparison to the rest of the league, his strikeout rate still put him in the top eighteen percent of Major League Baseball. However, his walk rate fell to the thirty-eighth percentile, which was a big drop from the fifty-eighth percentile where he ranked in 2021. The main factor as to why this rate dropped? His fastball has become less effective over the years.

That fastball effectiveness dropping allowed batters to make more solid contact and hit more home runs against Morton. Then we have to consider the fact that his curveball effectiveness drops drastically when hitters can eliminate the threat of the fastball being effective and in command. When Charlie was able to have control of his fastball, the curveball effectiveness went up as batters struggled to make solid contact.

What can Atlanta Braves fans expect from Morton in 2023? 

Atlanta Braves fans have a mixed bag with Morton at the moment. They’ve seen him at his best and worst. Morton will likely give the Braves 170+ innings in 2023 if he remains healthy and likely starts a lot of games for them.

How effective will he be? That remains to be seen but we know Charlie has the potential to be an ace when he is on his A-game. Baseball Reference has Morton going 10-7 with Atlanta in his age 39 season with a 4.04 ERA. This includes 58 walks and 178 expected strikeouts.

Those are reasonable numbers and likely close to what Morton actually attains in 2023. He will be a great middle-of-the-rotation piece for the Braves. The question is will he be worth the $20 million he signed for the 2023 season? That will likely be the focus of every fan next year when they see Uncle Charlie take the mound.

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Morton obviously has great stuff when he is confident in his pitches. That includes a spin rate in the top two percent of the league, and he is experienced enough to make adjustments in tough situations. The hope is that in 2023 we see more of the 2021 Charlie Morton than the 2022 version. If Charlie can regain that fastball effectiveness that allows the curveball to be so devastating, things should go perfectly fine for the veteran right-hander. However, if he is unable to do so, it may be a rather depressing end to an otherwise fantastic career.

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