• 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. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      Ken Boyer, in particular is quite comparable. He won 5 gold gloves and had a decent bat. Ron Santo's career overlaps with Brooks' as well. He of course is in the Hall. It could also be noted that Harmon Killebrew played about 1/3 of his career at 3rd and was a much greater offensive player than Brooks if only adequate at 3rd.
      Good players. Killer played third because the Twins of that era had guys like Vic Power and no DH. Killer is my favorite Twin ever. But to call his defense at third "adequate" is a stretch.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      Exactly. Morris is in the HOF for the one reason he actually should be in - 1991. His 1984 performance was good too, but his 1987 and 1992 postseason performances were equally horrid as his 1991 and 1984 performances were good. In fact, his postseason ERA is 3.80, basically equal to his 3.90 career ERA. So Morris was the same pitcher that he was during the regular season in the postseason. He just happened to be up in the rotation for a very memorable game 7 in 1991 and pitched well in half the postseasons that he appeared.
      I can live with the idea of Morris not being in the Hall, but whatever his stats I really want to stress one more time the point of view that, as most people define "ace" that yes, Morris was the ace of those Detroit teams (all those opening day starts?), and here specifically that Morris's turn in the rotation "happened" to come up for Game 7 in 1991. Two things:

      1. If I remember the feeling from moment, beside the natural anxiety of a game seven, there was no other pitcher you'd want to have pitching in a game seven than Morris. That feeling was vindicated for us in spades. (With a little help from the deke) This performance is why Morris, like Mazeroski, may actually be remembered longer than many Hall of Famers themselves.

      2. In his seven post-season series appearances, Morris pitched Game 1 in six of them.

      By the way Ben thanks for the reminder that there has been doping going on long before the mid 90s. It also strikes me, looking back, at how unimposing Morris physically was on the mound compared to guys these days.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      While Brooks and Ozzie are both the standards by which their respective defensive positions are measured, to me they are totally different players. Brooks was the epitome of the surehanded defender, he wasn't a fast runner, but he displayed unmatched instincts and a great first step. Ozzie had incredible range and made a scrapbook full of "impossible" plays. Neither player made the Hall for their offense, but they were more than respectable. Brooks had decent power and Ozzie hit more homers than Denny Hocking. BTW, Mike Schmidt was the best defender of his era at third, not on a par with Robinson, but extremely good.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Good players. Killer played third because the Twins of that era had guys like Vic Power and no DH. Killer is my favorite Twin ever. But to call his defense at third "adequate" is a stretch.
      If you get a chance, compare Ken Boyer's stats to Brooks Robinson's. They started about the same year, 1955 although Brooks was only 18 when he first appeared in the majors. Boyer was 24. The biggest difference is that Boyer was basically done when he was 33. Brooks played into his 40's and had some ok years after 34. If you compare their stats through their peak years, you might be surprised how good Boyer was. If you are into WAR(I am not) you will see that their total WAR through about their age 34 seasons, are very close.

      As far as defense goes, Boyer was considered very, very good. I expect some St Louis fans would tell you he was as good as Brooks. None of this means that Boyer belongs in the Hall. All I am saying is if St Louis would have been a bit better during his peak years it might have helped his chances to make the Hall.

      I like Killer a lot too. He was a real team player and actually played a lot of LF as well. It depended who was on the team. When Rich Rollins had his good years, Killebrew was in the OF a lot. When Don Mincher was with the Twins, Killebrew kind of switched positions a bit. What I remember about Killer's defense, particularly at 3rd, was that he had no range but caught what he got to, and had a strong arm. I was also a kid, so others would know better than me.
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      Jack Morris is the Troy Aikman of baseball.

      Aikman's stats are, for all practical purposes, pretty bad. But, Troy got in on the first ballot. I'm not saying that Morris should have been first ballot, but if Morris would have pitched in NY, Boston, St Louis, for the Cubs, or in LA, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have lasted more than a couple ballots before getting in.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      If you get a chance, compare Ken Boyer's stats to Brooks Robinson's. They started about the same year, 1955 although Brooks was only 18 when he first appeared in the majors. Boyer was 24. The biggest difference is that Boyer was basically done when he was 33. Brooks played into his 40's and had some ok years after 34. If you compare their stats through their peak years, you might be surprised how good Boyer was. If you are into WAR(I am not) you will see that their total WAR through about their age 34 seasons, are very close.

      As far as defense goes, Boyer was considered very, very good. I expect some St Louis fans would tell you he was as good as Brooks. None of this means that Boyer belongs in the Hall. All I am saying is if St Louis would have been a bit better during his peak years it might have helped his chances to make the Hall.

      I like Killer a lot too. He was a real team player and actually played a lot of LF as well. It depended who was on the team. When Rich Rollins had his good years, Killebrew was in the OF a lot. When Don Mincher was with the Twins, Killebrew kind of switched positions a bit. What I remember about Killer's defense, particularly at 3rd, was that he had no range but caught what he got to, and had a strong arm. I was also a kid, so others would know better than me.
      HOF for position players is historically about two things: having a long career of greatness and being considered the best player at your position during much of that stretch. Boyer had a great prime, but his career was relatively short for his era. So he was almost by definition not a HOFer. I thought the Rat was the best player at his position in his prime. He didn't get past the first vote.

      Robinson is perhaps a bad example for your point. He's almost the quintessential HOFer by those two criteria. Morris was never the top of his profession during his era, nor did he have the longest career in his era. Now, perhaps pitchers should be given a little leeway. Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux are two of the best pitchers of all time. Both pitched during Morris' era. You shouldn't be the best of all time to make the Hall. But I can think of about five guys in any year in which Morris pitched who were better. And so it went for his whole career. As some have pointed out, he wasn't even the best pitcher on his team some of the time. Even in '91, he was the best pitcher on the staff for one month during the year and the postseason. Besides Morris, three other guys were AL pitchers of the month that year. You all know Erickson and Tapani. Trivia: who was the other one?

      And so Morris belongs in the second tier, with guys like Suttcliff and Langston.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Besides Morris, three other guys were AL pitchers of the month that year. You all know Erickson and Tapani. Trivia: who was the other one?
      Nope. 2 more: One should be in the HOF (he was twice POM in 1991 btw) but he is not and the other is Freddie's little brother.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Oh I don't really think Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame nor do I really think Boyer is any sure thing either. But since I doubt you actually looked at their career stats I will publish them here.

      Robinson played 22 years, had about 800 more games and over 3000 more AB's. Boyer's career was 15 years, he was an all star 11 times and MVP once.

      Robinson Boyer
      R1232 1104
      H2848 2143
      HR268 282
      RBI1357 1141
      obp322 349
      slg401 462
      ops723 811
      BA267 287
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
      I can live with the idea of Morris not being in the Hall, but whatever his stats I really want to stress one more time the point of view that, as most people define "ace" that yes, Morris was the ace of those Detroit teams (all those opening day starts?), and here specifically that Morris's turn in the rotation "happened" to come up for Game 7 in 1991. Two things:

      1. If I remember the feeling from moment, beside the natural anxiety of a game seven, there was no other pitcher you'd want to have pitching in a game seven than Morris. That feeling was vindicated for us in spades. (With a little help from the deke) This performance is why Morris, like Mazeroski, may actually be remembered longer than many Hall of Famers themselves.

      2. In his seven post-season series appearances, Morris pitched Game 1 in six of them.

      By the way Ben thanks for the reminder that there has been doping going on long before the mid 90s. It also strikes me, looking back, at how unimposing Morris physically was on the mound compared to guys these days.
      I didn't mean he wasn't the ace of those staffs in that comment at all, so I apologize if that's how it came off. With the way today's playoffs go, there's a good chance your "ace" doesn't get to pitch game one. There used to be more time off between series and before the playoffs, but that was also back when there were only two teams from each league who made the playoffs at all.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Nope. 2 more: One should be in the HOF (he was twice POM in 1991 btw) but he is not and the other is Freddie's little brother.
      And he won it the next year with the Twins.
    1. goulik's Avatar
      goulik -
      The Hall of Fame is not and never will be about numbers or saber metrics though those things can be used to analyze things. It's about being the best of the All Stars. I loved going to Twins games to see Brad Radke pitch. All Star, not HOF. Tony O. Was a great player but not HOF.
      I enjoyed watching Black Jack pitch for us after all those years against us. He was a great pitcher no matter what the stats say or he would not have been a number one starter on so many great teams. He gave us a home town discount, gave us a great year, is in the HOF for the best pitched game I have ever seen (both pitchers, not just him) and left since he'd lived the dream of winning for the hometown team.
      HOF? No. Great? Yes. Why? Because less than 75% of the people (even on here) think he was THAT great. Some of those that actually watched him the most, the BBWA, think HOF or he would not have received votes but not a consensus and we need a true 75% or more agree consensus. That is also why I think the BBWA have also gotten it right.
      When you walk into the HOF, you know you are looking at the greatest of the Great there. It needs to always be that way and there needs to be a cut off line in the sand. Some greats just are not great enough.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      A WS winner requires great plays from an entire team, all throughout the season.

      That Chuck Knoblach and Greg Gagne suckered Lonnie Smith bailed out the team does not in the least diminish Jack Morris' game 7 performance. It just means the entire team was hitting on all cylinders.

      My observation is people often make their mind up about something, then they look to find evidence to support their position.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by amjgt View Post
      If Morris would have pitched in NY, Boston, St Louis, for the Cubs, or in LA, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have lasted more than a couple ballots before getting in.
      Do you see Tommy John or Don Mattingly in? Both NY Yankees and both better players than Morris.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      And he won it the next year with the Twins.
      Indeed. I forgot about him playing for the Twins
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by goulik View Post
      The Hall of Fame is not and never will be about numbers or saber metrics though those things can be used to analyze things. It's about being the best of the All Stars. I loved going to Twins games to see Brad Radke pitch. All Star, not HOF. Tony O. Was a great player but not HOF.
      I enjoyed watching Black Jack pitch for us after all those years against us. He was a great pitcher no matter what the stats say or he would not have been a number one starter on so many great teams. He gave us a home town discount, gave us a great year, is in the HOF for the best pitched game I have ever seen (both pitchers, not just him) and left since he'd lived the dream of winning for the hometown team.
      HOF? No. Great? Yes. Why? Because less than 75% of the people (even on here) think he was THAT great. Some of those that actually watched him the most, the BBWA, think HOF or he would not have received votes but not a consensus and we need a true 75% or more agree consensus. That is also why I think the BBWA have also gotten it right.
      When you walk into the HOF, you know you are looking at the greatest of the Great there. It needs to always be that way and there needs to be a cut off line in the sand. Some greats just are not great enough.
      Some good points in there, but he took no home town discount whatsoever. He was the highest paid pitcher in the game in 1991 and the 5th highest paid player in the entire league. That mystique has been erroneously hung on Morris in Minnesota for quite a while now, and it's just not true.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Do you see Tommy John or Don Mattingly in? Both NY Yankees and both better players than Morris.
      Here's a funny one: ERA+ and CYA voting for each pitcher in 91

      Tapani 143 (7)
      Morris 123 (4)
      Erickson 135 (2)
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Indeed. I forgot about him playing for the Twins
      My bad, I thought Krueger was the April winner and fourth starter in '91, that was '92. Anderson was the fourth starter in '91.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Most of this is subjective. Like Hrbek did not ever receive a Gold Glove, (Mattingly received those votes I assume because of his hitting ... but why? it is the best fielders recognition).
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      My observation is people often make their mind up about something, then they look to find evidence to support their position.
      I'd argue we've seen far more of that from the pro-Morris side.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Levisthan: it could be some of us place more weight on what we saw and were aware of over Jack Morris' career rather than a comparison of stats.

      That is valid too. Consider since the beginning of MLB time the baseball people made their player decisions without any metrics. Can anyone imagine Ozzie Guillen or Jim Leyland pouring over metrics to make their player decisions?

      That is not to discount metrics, only to say there are different ways of coming to conclusions. After all, for most of us baseball is entertainment and these are only opinions.

      That JM had a high ERA is a fact and that it is higher than most in the HOF is also a fact. Whether they are serious enough to disqualify HOF membership is an opinion. I think he belongs.
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