Braves 2021 Team Awards: Cy Young

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Here at SportsTalkATL we’re starting a series to hand out several end-of-season awards for the Braves 2021 season. Awards like Cy Young, MVP, Most Underrated Player of the Year and Most Improved Player of the Year are just a few of the different accolades we’ll address in these installments. Now, obviously the regular season is still underway, but some of these awards have already been settled. And I’m going to start with an award that’s been resolved for several months now — the Cy Young award.


Braves 2021 Team Awards: Cy Young

Charlie Morton


At 37-years-old, Charlie Morton is in the process of putting together one of the best campaigns of his 14-year MLB career. It’s been an absolute joy to watch him remain a consistent leader for this Braves starting staff. You name it, in terms of statistics, and Morton leads the Atlanta rotation in it — including innings, in which the veteran is outpacing Max Fried by over 20 at this point (with another start scheduled for Saturday versus the Giants). Any way you look at it, the Braves 2021 Cy Young must go to the guy that has led the way the whole year, and has remained as durable as ever. This award is all Morton’s.

The fact that the Braves extended Morton early last week should indicate how impressive the righty has been. Pitchers at his age aren’t getting in-season deals like that, especially from mid-market clubs like Atlanta.

So how has he done it this season? What’s made him so dominate and clearly the team’s Cy Young in 2021?

Well… it’s a combination of several things: nearly a career-best in both barrel rate (5.1%) and launch angle (7.1 degrees), as well as one of Morton’s highest seasonal strikeout-rates (28.5%) of his career. But, more than anything, it’s been his stuff. His pitches themselves. Morton has evolved into a Pitching Ninja, who’s offerings repeatedly make opposing batters look foolish.

The curveball, which has always been a strong go-to for Morton, has been nearly unhittable in 2021. To compliment his high-90s MPH fastball, the Braves veteran will mix in a breaker that’s currently inducing an over 40% whiff-rate and allowing a .122 AVG. Because his curve has been so effective, Morton leans on it more than any other pitch in his repertoire. And given he’s throwing his four-seamer harder than he ever has, that 80-MPH breaking ball can be absolute hell on the opposition.

Perhaps more than any kind of velo jump of wickedly-thrown curveball, Morton deserves the Braves Cy Young award because of simply how crucial he’s been to this team’s success. Without him keeping the staff stable through various injuries throughout the year… I’m not so sure Atlanta is able to make its second-half push quite like it did. Sure, the Braves offense has really stepped up since GM Alex Anthopoulos shook up the club with several trade deadline acquisitions. But just consider how sharp Morton has been since then…

Morton since Aug. 1: 8 starts, 2.94 ERA, 2.84 FIP, .186 AVG

Those are the numbers of a pitcher still on the upward trend, which is pretty amazing considering just how consistent he’s already been in 2021.

Morton may not be a contender in the NL Cy Young race. And many outside of Braves Country probably aren’t even aware of his dominance this season. But in terms of his impact, and his direct contributions to this Atlanta starting rotation in 2021, there’s no doubt… Morton has been the Braves Cy Young pitcher.


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