Sarris: How Charlie Morton’s career represents the history of pitch design

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on October 7, 2019:

Charlie Morton starts a game for the Rays tonight, a team that’s thought of by many to be one of the smartest in the sport. Last year, he was starting for the Astros, a team that’s blowing other teams out the water in terms of player development in terms of budget and organizational energy. Before that, he made two large changes to his arsenal at the behest of highly-regarded coaches in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton is the history of pitch design.

“I like that kind of stuff,” Morton said last week before his wild card start. “I was into PITCHf/x — I don’t know when the first time I saw a PITCHf/x chart, but it was probably a decade ago — and to have people now that are well-versed in those things and actually able to implement things in your delivery, and know how that affects the physics of ball, and know what the hitter is perceiving, not just what he’s seeing but what he thinks he’s seeing, those things are all really interesting.”

Morton arrived in Pittsburgh a decade ago, at a time when Ray Searage and the Pirates were considered the pitcher whisperers. Morton struggled at first, and was even demoted in 2010, but Searage and then minor league pitching coordinator Jim Benedict studied tape of Morton over the years, and they had a mechanical fix for him.

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Originally published: October 9, 2019. Last Updated: October 9, 2019.