• A Hall Without Jack Morris Is No Hall at All

    On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) elected Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the Class of 2014. While each of the candidates were worthy of election (as each were some of the most dominant players of their own or any other era in baseball), there remains a glaring omission from the class that should offend baseball historians and fans of all ages. That omission has nothing to do with the PED era. Instead, I refer to St. Paul, Minnesota native Jack Morris.

    Morris has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years regarding his candidacy for baseball’s Hall of Fame. Most recently, Morris’ attention has stemmed from his inability to get elected to the Hall in his final year on the ballot. The argument presents many conflicting points.

    On one hand, had Morris been elected, his ERA (3.90) would have been the highest ERA ever allowed in the Hall of Fame, ousting Red Ruffing’s career 3.80 ERA. According to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, Morris also gave up so many hits and runs that he never finished among the top four in his league in ERA or WAR and only once did so for WHIP.

    On the other hand, over his 18-year career, Morris compiled a 254-186 record over 549 games—527 of which were starts—which places him 43rd on the all-time wins list. For comparison, Ruffing (whose aforementioned 3.80 ERA is the highest among Hall of Fame pitchers) had a career 273-225 record over 624 games—536 of which were starts—and he was elected into the Hall of Fame. As it currently stands, one of the 50 winningest pitchers of all-time will not be in the Hall of Fame and if you consider the thousands of pitchers who have pitched throughout the game’s history (some good, some bad), leaving out one of the top 50 (based on wins alone) is questionable. Morris was only 19 wins behind Ruffing, started 9 fewer games, had a 0.10 higher ERA than he did, and pitched in an era with a designated hitter; yet, Ruffing is in the Hall and Morris is not. At the very least, Morris requires serious consideration.

    Within his era, he further shines. According to Verducci, from 1979-1992, Morris threw 18% more innings than any other starting pitcher and made it through the 8th inning in his starts 45% more often than any other pitcher. In an era where five men rotations were becoming more common and pitchers weren't being asked to pitch more than six innings very often, Morris’ accomplishments during his career represent a dying breed of pitchers who pitched deeper into games on a more regular basis and accumulated more innings over the duration of their careers.

    More impressive, he accomplished this all while pitching in the American League with a designated hitter in every lineup. Among all starting pitchers who debuted between 1970 and 1984, Morris won the most games (254), completed the most games by far (175, or 22 percent more than the next closest pitcher), posted the second best winning percentage (.577) and had the second most strikeouts (2,478) (Verducci). Those stats, however, do not give justice to the complete profile that Morris has assembled over his illustrious career.

    Morris made 14 Opening Day starts, six Game One playoff starts (of which he went 4-2), one unforgettable Game 7 start in 1991, was selected to five All-Star teams, and finished in the top five for Cy Young Award voting five times in his career. Although Morris only had three seasons of 20 or more wins, his perception as a staff ace and bulldog on the mound garnered him a reputation around the game as one of the most durable and productive pitchers of his era. In a culture in which a player is equally judged by the number of championships they won as they are by their individual achievements, Morris’ playoff resume is equally impressive. Morris won three World Series titles and sported a career 7-4 record with a 3.80 ERA in the playoffs and a 4-2 record with a 2.96 ERA in the World Series. These statistics reflect a pitcher who excelled on the biggest stage where players careers are often judged most critically.

    No pitcher has ever pitched their entire career in the American League during the designated hitter era and been elected into the Hall of Fame. Shouldn’t Morris be the first? Sure you can point to his high ERA and his lower win total compared to other Hall of Fame pitchers, but that shouldn’t deter voters from electing Morris into the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is made for players who left an impact on the game of baseball and were among the elite players of their era.

    Morris fits the bill for both of those characteristics. His 10 inning masterpiece in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series has gone down as one of the greatest outings in Major League history and his statistics rank among the best pitchers from the era that he came from.

    A lot of the skepticism surrounding Morris’ candidacy is related to the lack of quality pitchers coming out of the era in which he pitched in. Despite the lack of elite pitching talent during this era compared to other eras in history, Morris shouldn’t be punished for pitching at the time that he did. The fact of the matter is this: Morris was one of the elite pitchers of his time and thus, he should be recognized for it.

    When Kirby Puckett was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001, there was little arguing among baseball minds that Puckett deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. I would tend to argue that Puckett was one of the greatest players who ever lived. He dominated the era that he was in and gave several lasting memories that will stand in baseball history forever.

    However, if you look at his stats and judge Puckett solely by those stats, one could argue that Puckett’s stats aren’t completely “Hall of Fame worthy” by comparison to other players already in the Hall. Puckett may have been a 10-time All-Star, 6-time Gold Glove Award winner, and 5-time Silver Slugger Award with career totals of a .318 batting average with 2,304 hits, 207 HR and 1,085 RBI over his 12-year career, but those statistics don’t rank among the game’s elite. At the time of his election in 2001, Puckett ranked 24th in career batting average, 47th in career on base percentage, 50th in runs, 25th in home runs, and 34th in RBIs out of the 59 total outfielders in the Hall of Fame. Since Puckett’s numbers ranked among the middle to lower end of the spectrum when compared to all of the outfielders in the Hall of Fame, does that mean he shouldn’t be in the Hall? No way.

    Puckett was judged by so much more than simply his statistics. His legacy had just as much to do with him getting in the Hall as his play on the field did. What created and solidified Puckett’s legacy among the game’s greats were his performances on the biggest stage, the World Series. His infamous catch and walk-off homerun in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series is firmly implanted in the minds of baseball historians and fans forever and it undoubtedly had an impact on how the voters perceived Puckett when his “Hall of Fame Judgment Day” came in 2001. With that in mind, why shouldn’t Morris’ strong performances in the World Series (i.e. Game 7 of 1991) hold the same kind of impact on his candidacy?

    If you rank Morris statistically among some of the pitchers already in the Hall of Fame, his rankings might be similar in comparison to that of Puckett’s and the rest of the Hall of Fame outfielders, but does that make him any more or less worthy of election? The answer to that question is no. While some of the statistical categories clearly show that Puckett is Hall of Fame worthy and ranks among the game’s best to ever play the position, others rank him among the bottom of the group when it comes to particular statistics; however, Puckett was still elected to the Hall and so should Morris.

    Morris' timing isn't doing him any favors. Puckett was elected in 2001 when there weren’t as many viable candidates jockeying for position as there are in 2014 when Morris is trying to get in. Morris had to compete for votes with PED era holdovers and stalwarts such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa whereas Puckett had to compete with Gary Carter, Morris, Goose Gossage, Jim Rice, and Bruce Sutter for votes. Although many of the players Puckett had to compete with for votes eventually were elected into the Hall, the situation and voting attitude is much different now than it was back then. Voter’s opinions are more diversified now than ever before and it has resulted in a declining number of players getting elected each year.

    If the Hall of Fame is truly the sacred place that the BBWAA is trying to uphold and build upon by adding the greatest players in baseball history—while keeping out the players who tarnish the game’s integrity—then Morris deserves to be a part of it. If you look at his complete body of work considering his statistics, reputation, and performance during his specific era, he will remain among the best pitchers who ever played the game.

    Sadly, it seems as if the BBWAA has their own hidden agendas behind their voting that may stem from personal experiences or perceptions of the players instead of their performance on the field. These hidden agendas are costing players like Morris—who deserve to be in the Hall—a chance to be recognized for the greatness of their careers. I shudder at the thought of who else may be left out because of such nonsensical reasoning.

    By not electing Morris in his last year of eligibility, the BBWAA hasn’t upheld their duty to elect the best players into baseball’s most sacred place. Should the system be changed? I’m not sure; but if you ask me, a Hall without Jack Morris is no Hall at all.





    Photo Courtesy of Rick Stewart-Getty Images

    This article was originally published in blog: A Hall Without Jack Morris is No Hall at All started by bwille
    Comments 127 Comments
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      There are many reasons to be upset with the BBWAA and their voting process.

      Jack Morris isn't one of them. Bartolo-freakin-Colon has a higher career WAR than ol' Grumpystache.

      Morris has no business being in a Hall that refuses to elect Alan Trammell, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines, among others (all are 69+ career WAR players, compared to Morris' 43 WAR... which is lower than Joe Mauer, BTW).

      And that's not even getting into the PED guys who deserve to be there: Clemens and Bonds, for starters.

      The problem with the HoF voting is that there are a slew of writers who just aren't very bright. They take moralistic stands on the most bizarre of topics but they can't even stay consistent within their own "rules".

      How on earth can you vote for Larkin but not Trammell? How can you vote for Jim Rice but not Raines? How can you completely ignore the contributions of the Killer Bs? Hell, Trammell and Raines didn't even play during the PED era. That's no excuse (it shouldn't be an excuse either way but whatever) to leave them off the ballot.

      And then there's Mike Piazza. The best offensive catcher in history and it's not even really close. Never linked to PED use, played in monster stadiums his entire career, and a hell of a guy to boot. But nah, don't vote for him. This is the Hall of Fame. Not the Hall of... uh... Great?
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      I have gone back forth about Morris over the years. I am totally biased because of that world series clutch performance. While I think he deserves to get in I also understand there is a line that has to be drawn somewhere. Otherwise the hall gets diluted and means nothing. If you let someone in with a 3.90 ERA then there is an argument for lots of other pitchers.

      I do agree that stats do not tell the whole story especially given the era in which he pitched. Going deep in games can be more important to a team than an extra run in the pitchers ERA if it is saving the bullpen. Also a couple of bad years at the end of his career inflated that ERA even more.

      It is a tough call and Morris in on or slightly below line. I think it was a decision that could have gone either way but in the end I can live with the decision that was made. Jack will always be considered a great player whether he is in the hall or not. He will be forever remembered in Minnesota and in my mind for the rest of my life for that amazing game 7 that to me defined who Jack Morris is.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Not even close to a Hall of Famer.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      I am starting to lean towards Morris being in. It is a done deal now but the pros seem to outweigh the cons. Am I nuts? With the amount of innings he threw and the amount of times he went deep into the games it seems that the ERA stat gets diluted. What if he had pitched with a good set up man and a closer so he stopped at 6.1-7 innings/game? Also, he pitched in the American league with a DH for his whole career. So all the pros are stated above in Bwille's ariticle and the cons are WAR and ERA? If what I said about ERA counts and you set that aside, is he in? I must say, I do like that it seems that those who vote no are doing so because they are taking a hard look at stats and that is how it should be. That type of analysis would have Johan with another Cy Young award.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      There are many reasons to be upset with the BBWAA and their voting process.

      Jack Morris isn't one of them. Bartolo-freakin-Colon has a higher career WAR than ol' Grumpystache.
      Kenny Rogers (who was a Minnesota Twin for exactly as long as Morris was) and got a single vote had higher career WAR than Morris. Did not see many cries from the Twin Cities crowd there. Brad Radke had a higher career WAR than Morris. And he was a Twin for life. Did not see many cries there either.

      The two former Twins who should be in this large inclusive hall are Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, not the Tiger Jack Morris.

      And before I forget: The Hall is not "without Jack Morris". There are memorabilia of that game 7 in the Hall. Which is the way it should be because that was one of the best games ever played. This does not mean that Jack Morris is one of the best to ever play the game and should be inducted to the player section. There is a difference.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Penz View Post
      I am starting to lean towards Morris being in. It is a done deal now but the pros seem to outweigh the cons. Am I nuts? With the amount of innings he threw and the amount of times he went deep into the games it seems that the ERA stat gets diluted. What if he had pitched with a good set up man and a closer so he stopped at 6.1-7 innings/game? Also, he pitched in the American league with a DH for his whole career. So all the pros are stated above in Bwille's ariticle and the cons are WAR and ERA? If what I said about ERA counts and you set that aside, is he in? I must say, I do like that it seems that those who vote no are doing so because they are taking a hard look at stats and that is how it should be. That type of analysis would have Johan with another Cy Young award.
      Jamie Moyer pitched 250 more innings than Morris and had a higher career WAR. They had virtually the same ERA+. And Moyer did it in the middle of the PED era when pitchers were pulled after six innings.

      Jack Morris was a good pitcher. He was not a great one.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      How many present HOF'rs needed to pass the litmus test of WAR comparisons? That is a new standard.

      Of course Jack Morris belongs in the HOF!

      His numbers may not be as high as some, but he accomplished some pretty remarkable feats in his lengthy career.

      Somebody presently installed in The Hall now has the highest ERA, lowest win total, most errors, slowest fastball, poorest ball to strike ratio, lowest batting average, fewest HR's, et all!

      None of that matters.

      You cannot compare greatness by digesting a set of numbers. The numbers never do justice to Jack Morris' type of accomplishments.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Not even close to a Hall of Famer.
      I am a big fan of Jack Morris. He will always hold a special place in our hearts and he is a great guy, but his numbers are just not there.

      Here are his numbers against six pitchers that will get in, all up recently or in the next year:
      WP ERA WHIP K/9

      Jack Morris .577 3.90 1.29 5.8

      Randy Johnson .646 3.29 1.17 10.6

      Pedro Martinez .687 2.93 1.05 10.0

      Curt Schilling .597 3.46 1.13 8.6

      Tom Glavine .600 3.54 1.31 5.3

      Greg Maddux .610 3.16 1.14 6.1

      John Smoltz .594* 3.33 1.18 8.0

      *win percentage as a starter


      Morris is last in win percentage, ERA by far, and six of seven in WHIP and K/9
    1. thetank's Avatar
      thetank -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Penz View Post
      I am starting to lean towards Morris being in. It is a done deal now but the pros seem to outweigh the cons. Am I nuts? With the amount of innings he threw and the amount of times he went deep into the games it seems that the ERA stat gets diluted. What if he had pitched with a good set up man and a closer so he stopped at 6.1-7 innings/game? Also, he pitched in the American league with a DH for his whole career. So all the pros are stated above in Bwille's ariticle and the cons are WAR and ERA? If what I said about ERA counts and you set that aside, is he in? I must say, I do like that it seems that those who vote no are doing so because they are taking a hard look at stats and that is how it should be. That type of analysis would have Johan with another Cy Young award.
      Looking at his career splits he did better in the 2nd half of the season than the first. Excellent Sept/Oct numbers. Will have to be up to the Veterans Committee now. If he could have pitched more shutouts, won a Cy Young, and had a few more wins...
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      How many present HOF'rs needed to pass the litmus test of WAR comparisons? That is a new standard.
      Not many, because WAR didn't exist.

      But it says a lot that the overwhelming majority of them pass with flying colors.

      If some of you think Morris should be in the Hall due to his postseason performances, so be it. I don't agree but there is a case to be made for such players.

      But don't try to pass off his career numbers as Hall-worthy. They simply aren't.

      Again, Jamie Moyer compares favorably to Jack Morris. Jamie-freakin-Moyer. Think about that for a moment.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      The numbers exactly state how he actually pitched, not how we remember him pitching. That's the beauty of the numbers.....they tell an unbiased truth.

      He allowed more runs to score than other good or great pitchers. He did not "pitch to the score", that analysis has been done over and over. He "won" a lot of games (dumbest stat in sports, probably) because his offense scored a ton of runs.

      The numbers are exactly how you should MEASURE if someone was good at their job.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      And, I agree with Thrylos, I would have put both Tony O and Kaat in the HOF.

      No doubt there are other snubs, more or less apparent.

      My reasoning is that the HOF is not merely for carbon copies of the same great players. There is room for more than one type of greatness.
    1. markos's Avatar
      markos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      And before I forget: The Hall is not "without Jack Morris". There are memorabilia of that game 7 in the Hall. Which is the way it should be because that was one of the best games ever played. This does not mean that Jack Morris is one of the best to ever play the game and should be inducted to the player section. There is a difference.
      This.

      Jack Morris is already memorialized in the Hall of Fame for having one of the greatest World Series pitching performances in one of the greatest World Series games in one of the greatest World Series in baseball history. He was not one of the greatest pitchers of all time. So he is already in the Hall for exactly the reason that he should be.
    1. 108 Double Stitches's Avatar
      108 Double Stitches -
      I think starting pitching evaluation for the HOF is pretty harsh. There seems to more and more disparity between how careers are evaluated and how a GM is evaluated after a free agent signing or a trade is made. And the HOF analysis is looking, well, dated.

      This might be a controversial opinion, but I will throw it out there anyway. There are three LF from Fenway in HOF. A lot of statistics make them look really good. But if you had traded the #3 on the list (Jim Rice) for Jack Morris, how would view the General Manager in hindsight? How about for Yaz? I think I would take Jack Morris, not because he was better than other pitching HOF canidates, but because its a commodity that is harder to replace.

      It worked out well for two separate teams to pick up Morris as a free agent. I rather doubt Rice or even Yaz could have had the same impact. If you wanted to see the best HOF stats, you would be totally wrong to take on Morris. But if you wanted to win,...

      So you could really say that my opinion is that the HOF has too many corner OFers and not enough starting pitching. Kind of the like the Twins over the last 3 years. I am not saying that Morris is more deserving than some of the other canidates. I am saying more starting pitching canidates are deserving. Pretty much after what we have been seeing, for the 2014 Twins I would take any of the pitchers that have been mentioned over another corner OF.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      My reasoning is that the HOF is not merely for carbon copies of the same great players. There is room for more than one type of greatness.
      Sure there is. That's why Rickey Henderson, Sandy Koufax, Ozzie Smith, and Babe Ruth are in the same Hall of Fame.

      All vastly different players. All the best in the game at one particular skillset during their careers. Jack Morris lacks the most important quality shared between them, and that is "greatness".
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I am a big fan of Jack Morris. He will always hold a special place in our hearts and he is a great guy, but his numbers are just not there.

      Here are his numbers against six pitchers that will get in, all up recently or in the next year:
      WP ERA WHIP K/9

      Jack Morris .577 3.90 1.29 5.8

      Randy Johnson .646 3.29 1.17 10.6

      Pedro Martinez .687 2.93 1.05 10.0

      Curt Schilling .597 3.46 1.13 8.6

      Tom Glavine .600 3.54 1.31 5.3

      Greg Maddux .610 3.16 1.14 6.1

      John Smoltz .594* 3.33 1.18 8.0

      *win percentage as a starter


      Morris is last in win percentage, ERA by far, and six of seven in WHIP and K/9
      Interestingly enough, the closest comparable from his time in ERA, WHIP, K/9 and K/BB is this guy:

      Morris: 3.90 ERA, 1.296 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, 1.8 K/BB (3824 IP)
      Mystery Pitcher: 3.75 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 1.4 K/BB (3801 IP)

      Eerily similar numbers.
      Is Charlie Hough a Hall of Famer?
    1. Thor's Avatar
      Thor -
      Morris made 14 opening day starts. 3 of those teams won the World Series. It isn't rocket science, it's baseball where you send your best pitcher out on opening day. The best pitcher 14 years for good teams was Jack.
    1. thetank's Avatar
      thetank -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Kenny Rogers (who was a Minnesota Twin for exactly as long as Morris was) and got a single vote had higher career WAR than Morris. Did not see many cries from the Twin Cities crowd there. Brad Radke had a higher career WAR than Morris. And he was a Twin for life. Did not see many cries there either.

      The two former Twins who should be in this large inclusive hall are Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, not the Tiger Jack Morris.

      And before I forget: The Hall is not "without Jack Morris". There are memorabilia of that game 7 in the Hall. Which is the way it should be because that was one of the best games ever played. This does not mean that Jack Morris is one of the best to ever play the game and should be inducted to the player section. There is a difference.
      Tony Oliva only had 1900 or so hits. He was a DH for the last 4 years. He was injury-proned as well. Kaat could have had one more 25 win season somewhere. Looks like the voters were making a stand and Kaat's ERA+ is better than Morris though you think of Morris as your ace year after year.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Koufax is a really high standard to surpass.

      Would Don Drysdale or Robin Roberts and many others be in the HOF if they needed to meet that standard?
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Morris' "era" isn't 1979-1992. That's the exact prime of his career, and a textbook example of selective endpoints.

      Then you compare him to pitchers who debuted between 1970 and 1984 -- how did you come up with that? (Also, it appears to mean AFTER 1970 and BEFORE 1984, as Blyleven debuted in 1970 and Clemens debuted in 1984 and both of those guys beat Morris by a mile.)

      Look, I love me some Morris, I think Game 7 was great, and I wouldn't be upset to see him get in, but I don't think it's any kind of injustice. I mean, outside of his iconic moment, the best justification seems to be the HOF should have a starting pitcher debut in every X year period. (Anybody find a nice HOF list sorted by birth year?) There were a lot of great SP debuting in the 1960s and 1980s, they just seemed to skip debuts in the 1970s for the most part. Heck, even Morris didn't debut until 1977 or establish himself until 1979. The great lasting pitchers of the 1970s debuted in the 1960s, and the great lasting pitchers of the 1980s debuted in 1984 or later (or were holdovers from 1960s debuts).

      I don't know why that is, but if you look at yearly top 10 leaderboards at Baseball Reference, the late 70s / early 80s look a little thin. Heck, Morris doesn't even appear on many of those.
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