• 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. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      You want a good reason for the inflated era? He pitched deep into games. He wouldnt give up the ball. If he had an 8-2 lead after six innings, he didnt come out. He'd finish the game even if he gave up some meaningless runs. Also, to save the bullpen, he stayed in games he was losing. He ate up innings at the expense of his era. Its almost bothersome to me this is a thing of the past. A game with Correia comes to mind. He got roughed up early in a game at KC and Gardy yanks him after two innings. Leave him in for 6 innings. Who cares if he gives up 8 runs. Save the bullpen.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      You want a good reason for the inflated era? He pitched deep into games. He wouldnt give up the ball. If he had an 8-2 lead after six innings, he didnt come out. He'd finish the game even if he gave up some meaningless runs. Also, to save the bullpen, he stayed in games he was losing. He ate up innings at the expense of his era.
      Untrue. Read this article.

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...articleid=1815

      There is no such thing as "pitching to the scoreboard". Morris simply wasn't very good at preventing runs. Full stop.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      You want a good reason for the inflated era? He pitched deep into games. He wouldnt give up the ball. If he had an 8-2 lead after six innings, he didnt come out. He'd finish the game even if he gave up some meaningless runs. Also, to save the bullpen, he stayed in games he was losing. He ate up innings at the expense of his era. Its almost bothersome to me this is a thing of the past. A game with Correia comes to mind. He got roughed up early in a game at KC and Gardy yanks him after two innings. Leave him in for 6 innings. Who cares if he gives up 8 runs. Save the bullpen.
      I posted these links in the general HOF thread, but it fits here too. This is a common narrative and it was important that he threw those extra innings to save the bullpen. But, he didn't do so at the expense of his own stats. Here's a link to his inning by inning splits. In innings 7-9 he was better than 1-3 and 4-6. Being more durable actually inflated his stats.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...e.cgi?id=c9MAS

      If the extra innings affected his durability by season, his monthly splits would show it, but he actually got better as the year went on:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...e.cgi?id=Xf4Zf

      Jack Morris deserves a ton of credit and praise for his durability, I don't think anyone will argue with that point. To say that his durability hurt his overall stats is just not true.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by UCLA_YANKEE_COLA View Post
      Wait, what exactly did Jack Morris do that is not reflected in his statistics?
      Prime example of why I cant relate to today's fans. I'm from a very different era of baseball. An era when the game was, for lack of a better word, better.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      Prime example of why I cant relate to today's fans. I'm from a very different era of baseball. An era when the game was, for lack of a better word, better.
      I know that when I think of the glory days of baseball, the first thing that springs into my head is... The 1980s?
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Untrue. Read this article.

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...articleid=1815

      There is no such thing as "pitching to the scoreboard". Morris simply wasn't very good at preventing runs. Full stop.
      Alright. Im not even going to click on it, I'll take your word for it. I'll admit when I'm wrong. I'd still put him in the Hall though.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      Alright. Im not even going to click on it, I'll take your word for it. I'll admit when I'm wrong. I'd still put him in the Hall though.
      Which I think is a fine argument if you want to heavily weight his postseason heroics. The Hall of Fame means different things to different people. Some believe that crunchtime single game performances are enough to put "pretty good" guys into the Hall.

      But the argument that he was a HoF pitcher during the regular season just doesn't hold water by any standard past "he sure pitched a lot of pretty okay innings".
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thor View Post
      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.

      According to this logic, the Twins should be set in 2014, since they are loaded with 4 "Aces":

      Nolasco: Opening Day starts (3: 2008, 2009, 2013)
      Pelfrey: Opening Day starts (1: 2011)
      Worley: Opening Day starts (1: 2013)
      Correia: Opening Day starts (1: 2011)
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I know that when I think of the glory days of baseball, the first thing that springs into my head is... The 1980s?
      I think the 80's was a great era of baseball. For one thing, it was pre-steroids. Atleast the game was pure. I gotta get back to work. Signing off. Peace.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by UCLA_YANKEE_COLA View Post
      Wait, what exactly did Jack Morris do that is not reflected in his statistics?
      If anything, looking past the numbers reveals an ugly picture. Jack was widely known as a dick for most of his career. Even in '91, he had his clubhouse issues, which was one of the reasons MacPhail got him so cheap.

      I have a hard time understanding why people in this area are so fond of him for his intangibles. When he pitched for Detroit, he was known for plunking our best hitter routinely, just for the fun of it. Then, when he had a chance to do right by us, he opted out of his contract to get like $1 M more per year to pitch for Toronto. He showed zero loyalty to his hometown team.

      The only thing I can think of is selective memory. In the anals of the Twins, he is not even in the top 10 in any category but one--World Series wins. And don't get me started on "the greatest WS game of all time." He pitched great. But he also had a lot of luck, including two 3-2-3 double plays and the biggest base running blunder in WS history. Any of those remarkable plays don't happen, and he is the Game 7 loser.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      I think the 80's was a great era of baseball. For one thing, it was pre-steroids. Atleast the game was pure. I gotta get back to work. Signing off. Peace.
      Yep, the game was pure... As pure as the snow Daryl Strawberry was doing off the backs of strippers in the clubhouse.

      1980s baseball was a lot of fun to watch. More fun than the 90s slugfest, that's for sure... But it was a tainted game. Baseball has always been a tainted game.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      If anything, looking past the numbers reveals an ugly picture. Jack was widely known as a dick for most of his career. Even in '91, he had his clubhouse issues, which was one of the reasons MacPhail got him so cheap.

      I have a hard time understanding why people in this area are so fond of him for his intangibles. When he pitched for Detroit, he was known for plunking our best hitter routinely, just for the fun of it. Then, when he had a chance to do right by us, he opted out of his contract to get like $1 M more per year to pitch for Toronto. He showed zero loyalty to his hometown team.

      The only thing I can think of is selective memory. In the anals of the Twins, he is not even in the top 10 in any category but one--World Series wins. And don't get me started on "the greatest WS game of all time." He pitched great. But he also had a lot of luck, including two 3-2-3 double plays and the biggest base running blunder in WS history. Any of those remarkable plays don't happen, and he is the Game 7 loser.
      The HOF is 95% numbers, then intangibles like WS games, post-season record, innings pitched can play a role. Curt Schilling is not a first ballot HOF but any writer on the fence after the first year will put him in based on his WS and post-season numbers. Morris is not on the fence

      I even read an article that cited he wore an American flag on his shirt with a sign that said "try and burn this one". Having to invent reasons is a sign that the player is not HOF worthy.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      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
      All but Morris spent significant time in the NL. On the other hand, all but Morris faced the majority of the offensive explosion caused by the steroid era. Morris never got higher than 3rd in the Cy Young voting. At his peak he was very good (not great.) He spent a lot of time as a average-to-good innings eater. His peaks were probably higher than Moyer, but nowhere near the guys on this list, and sustained greatness is more important that the career-filler.

      I don't know where he will stand when he's done, I put Johan ahead of Morris, and I will be surprised if he gets serious consideration, barring a comeback (which I doubt will be successful.) Johan was a great pitcher for about 6 years and pretty good for 2-3 more. Morris was never great, except in 1991 game 7.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Untrue. Read this article.

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...articleid=1815

      There is no such thing as "pitching to the scoreboard". Morris simply wasn't very good at preventing runs. Full stop.
      Slightly unfair; Morris wasn't great/elite at preventing runs for his whole career. His first 10 years as a full-time starter Morris was a fine pitcher; unfortunately his last 7 seasons (excepting for 1991) his only real skill was durability. Those last 7 years really pulled his ERA+ down.

      While I think it's fair to look at peak value in assessing HoF as an important factor, it's A) not the only factor, and B) needs to be pretty high to overcome a decline period that's well below average. Especially when one of the bigger arguments for Morris is durability, innings, etc.

      Morris' durability is impressive. 10 seasons of 240+ innings pitched. 11 seasons with 10+ complete games. 11 seasons with more than 30 starts. Great durability. But there are too many seasons where he was an average pitcher (or worse) and too few seasons where he was a dominant starter.

      There's a reason he never won a Cy Young: he was never the best pitcher in the league. he was durable and he was pretty consistent but he wasn't elite. Post season? 1984 & 1991 he was pretty great, 1987 and 1992 he wasn't good at all. How many of those extra point for the 1991 WS get taken away for his awful 1992 post-season?

      Not making the HoF shouldn't be a rap on Jack's career. He was a terrific pitcher for a long time and a real asset to his Detroit teams and that magical year in MN. But he's short of my HoF standards.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I know that when I think of the glory days of baseball, the first thing that springs into my head is... The 1980s?
      1987 and 1991, to be exact :-)
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Game 7 is my favorite Twins memory and I wouldn't be upset if he got in, but he's really not HOF caliber. Guys get in either because of their numbers (Ruth, Mays), or because some intagibles pump up their reputation (Ruffing, Boudreau).

      Morris didn't qualify for either of these clearly. His numbers never held up, they didn't when people were using basic stats for evaluation and they didn't when people started using advanced stats. Blyleven and Rice got second considerations because of advanced stats, but Morris' numbers just don't hold up.

      As far as the reputation, we may like to say stuff like "best pitcher of the 80's" (BS, Ryan, Clemens, Gooden, Carlton anyone?) but clearly he didn't have the rep we like to think he has now. If he had been considered elite at the time, he would have more awards and AS game appearances. More importantly, he would have been getting more than 25% of the votes his first few years on the ballot.

      In other words, people didn't consider him a HOFer during his career and shortly after it was over. It's only revisionist history that makes us think he belongs now.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmlease1 View Post
      Slightly unfair; Morris wasn't great/elite at preventing runs for his whole career. His first 10 years as a full-time starter Morris was a fine pitcher; unfortunately his last 7 seasons (excepting for 1991) his only real skill was durability. Those last 7 years really pulled his ERA+ down.

      While I think it's fair to look at peak value in assessing HoF as an important factor, it's A) not the only factor, and B) needs to be pretty high to overcome a decline period that's well below average. Especially when one of the bigger arguments for Morris is durability, innings, etc.
      To be fair, almost every HoF pitcher has a similar career arc. Except that Morris' peak wasn't great. It was very good. He never posted an ERA+ over 133. He had six seasons of 120 or better ERA+.

      Sure, that's a good pitcher. But if you look through the career of almost any HoF guy, his peak is going to be better than that. Blyleven, for example, had six seasons of 140 or better ERA+ and a whopping 13 seasons of 120 or better ERA+. Johan also had six seasons of 140 or better ERA+. That's a dominant peak of a career.

      Morris had a typical decline, sure... But almost all guys have a similar career arc if they pitch in the league for 15+ seasons. Morris' peak wasn't that good and his corresponding decline was similar. No matter where you look in his career, he was 10-20% less dominant than what we think of as a typical "Hall of Fame" pitcher.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by 108 Double Stitches View Post
      There are some numbers that Jack Morris excelled at, but they are stats that are never used in HOF comparisons. (I am citing his by memory, it was stated either on Pos blog or on ESPN on Wed): Morris was the number 1 inning eater of his era, and he was 18% ahead of the #2. Its not a stat that is often appreciated by HOF writers, but GMs writing checks value it highly. If it gets you a higher salary, why isn't it part of the equation?
      Back to that comparison with Charlie Hough: Their rate stats (and total IP are extremely similar; a refresher: )

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

      Hough was a reliever and a closer in the first part of his career with the Dodgers and starter with the Rangers. Here are their 10 highest single season IP totals:

      Morris: 293.7, 267, 266, 261.3, 257, 250, 249.7, 249.3, 246.7, 240.7
      Hough: 285.3, 266, 252, 252, 250.3, 230.3, 228, 218.7, 204.7, 199.3

      Still in the ballpark and Hough pitched in some crappy teams, which meant early exits.
    1. thetank's Avatar
      thetank -
      Morris received a higher % of HOF votes in 2000 than Blyleven. Blyleven was helped by advanced metrics and deservedly went in the HOF.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Untrue. Read this article.

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...articleid=1815

      There is no such thing as "pitching to the scoreboard". Morris simply wasn't very good at preventing runs. Full stop.
      That is really some outstanding analysis done in that link.

      I know there is a big push-back on the "stat-heads" for removing the romance of the game, but articles like this prove why it's such a valuable component to analyzing a career. There are so many assumptions driving the debate for Morris that stats can eliminate because they aren't biased.

      I wish some would understand that the romance doesn't die just because the analysis gets better.
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