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Modern Era Ballot Full Of Flaws

Baseball’s election process for the Hall of Fame isn’t perfect. Strong candidates get skipped over. Top level players are left off ballots because of the 10 vote limit per ballot. Twins fans are well aware of the flawed process with players like Bert Blyleven, who eventually got in, and Tony Oliva, who is still waiting for the call.

In order to address some of these flaws, MLB has created what some call a “back door” into the Hall of Fame. The 16-member Eras Committee (formerly known as the Veterans Committee) considers players from baseball’s different eras. This year’s ballot includes 10 names from the Modern Era (1970-1987).
Image courtesy of Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Candidates must receive 12 of the 16 votes in order to get elected. Each member of the committee can vote for a maximum of five candidates. Since 2009, only two players have been elected through this process, Ron Santo and Deacon White.

Will Morris Get His Call?
Some fans who grew up watching the Modern Era are surprised that Jack Morris isn’t already in the Hall. Morris topped out at 67% of the vote on his 14th time on the BBWAA ballot. Morris left his mark on the Twins organization with his 10 inning shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Other than that, his resume is lacking. He has a career 3.90 ERA and his career WAR of 43.8 doesn’t exactly scream Hall of Fame. Morris was part of three World Series winners and he had the most wins in the 1980’s (for what that’s worth). There are worse players in the Hall and I think other players feel like he should be part of their elite group.

Are There Other Deserving Names?
Alan Trammell and Marvin Miller also have a chance at being elected. Trammell has similar stats to Barry Larkin who was elected on his third BBWAA ballot. He has the eight-best WAR among shortstops which is the highest WAR total for an eligible shortstop candidate who hasn’t been elected. Miller, the former head of the MLB Players Association, missed being elected by one vote in 2010. With Bud Selig’s election last year, it should pave the way for Miller to be enshrined. Unfortunately, he has passed on since his last time on the ballot.

Who Was Missed?
With nine players and Miller on the ballot, there wasn’t much room for other non-players. In previous years, George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin were on the ballot. Don Mattingly made the ballot while Keith Hernandez was left off. Even though Hernandez accumulated a WAR total that is 18 points higher than Mattingly. Other names that were missed were players like Dwight Evans, Bobby Grich, Willie Randolph, and Lou Whitaker. All of these players accumulated a WAR of over 65. Some of the other names on the ballot just don’t stack up when compared to those left off the ballot.

What are your thoughts? Will Morris finally get the call? Who was the biggest snub? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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40 Comments

Morris was the #1 for three different teams who won the WS. The Tigers have won 3 WS total, the Twins 2, and the Jays 2. Morris is a significant historical figure for each of these teams in a way that is unmatched by any other pitcher in history. He was dominant in two of those post-seasons, winning Babe Ruth Awards twice and WS MVP once. He was crucial for each team making the playoffs.

He had 13 healthy seasons, and his career rating stats are jacked due to his injury-plagued 1989, 1993 and 1994 seasons. In his 13 healthy seasons, he led his team in regular season innings and wins every year but 1991, when Erickson had more regular season wins. If you count the playoffs, he led his teams in innings and wins all 13 seasons. His teams had a .599 winning percentage when he was pitching, and a .540 percentage when he was not. And his teams were able to utilize the bullpens more on his off days because he pitched deeper into games than anyone of his era. In his 13 healthy seasons, he averaged 18-12, 3.65 ERA, 246.2 innings pitched, 7and 1/3 innings per game, 12 CG, 8 CGW and 2 Shutouts.

He had 111 Complete Game victories. In games he started where there was a save chance but he stayed in, he was 49 of 52 (94%) akin to Dennis Eckersley in his MVP and Cy Young season. He was better in innings 7-9 than in innings 4-6 or 1-3. He was also better in the 9th inning than any other inning. His rate stats in the 9th inning of games he pitched in are similar to those of Hall of Fame closers. He was a freak of nature how he could get stronger in the 9th inning, with a higher strikeout percentage than in any other inning. And these numbers support the idea that he saved something for the end of games to finish off his opponents.

He was voted for Cy Young in 7 different seasons. For all pitchers who touched on his era, only Clemens (12), Mussina (9), Palmer (8) and Ryan (8) had more seasons where someone gave them a Cy Young vote. Blyleven and Tommy John had 4. He also started 3 All-Star Games.

In 8th inning of the last game of 1981, he was one bad inning of his team not fielding bunts very well away from a Cy Young. He deserved to be the Cy Young in 1983, when he led the league in innings and strikeouts, had 293.2 innings (matched only once since by Blyleven in 1985), 20 CGs, 14 CGWs (striking out 17 in the 9th inning of those wins), and a 3.34 ERA. Match his numbers against the Cy Young winner, Lamar Hoyt, and Hoyt was only better in wins. He had 7 consecutive CGs from August 3-September 1 that season, almost keeping the Tigers in the pennant race. In 1986, he had 6 shutouts (including a 10-inning shutout of the Yankees), and a streak of 32 consecutive innings without giving up a run.

In 1984, he was 9-0, with a 1.97 ERA during the Tigers' 35-5 start. He had one no decision where he went 9 and the Tigers won in the 10th and one 1-0 CG loss. Then, after the Tigers lost 3 straight, he went out and won the next game in another CG. During the streak, he hardly needed any relief, which was saved for the next game's pitcher. In 1991, during the Twins' 24-3 streak, he went 6-0. Then after the Twins lost 4, he stopped the losing streak with a shutout against the White Sox and Jack McDowell. in 1992, he was 9-2 with a 2.97 during the last two months of the season, with the Jays holding a slim lead in the division, averaging 8 IP/game.

In his prime, he was dominant. He came up historically big in big games for his teams. I don't think any of his contemporaries who aren't in the Hall match up to him in accomplishments and contributions to his teams.

IMO, he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Wins, ERA,and “Starter Saves” are team metrics, not individual accomplishment metrics. He won other awards and was a good pitcher on a good team doesn’t clear that threshold for me.

 

Some of the big negatives for Morris are as old school as it gets.

 

He would have the worst ERA (3.90) of any SP in the HOF (currently the worst is 3.80). The average ERA for a HOF pitcher is under 3.00. For his career, his ERA is only 5% over league average.

 

Also, his K/9 is less than 6 and his BB/9 is over 3.

 

Not only that, the new way of thinking hasn't even really taken strong hold in the HOF voting (as there are tons of old school writers holding on) and even less so the first 10 years he was eligible.And one example of HOF voting not really up to newer thinking is Glavine getting in first ballot and Mussina still not in.

I am not a big Mussina fan.He pitched for really good teams and was never the real leader.I know he has many pushing for him, but I am fine if he is out.I am also fine if Morris is out, but the old ERA standard is about to go away if we are going to put any modern era pitchers in.In the era of the HR the ERA for the entire league is going up and the innings are going down.In a big game I would take Morris over Mussina any day.Since 1993 league ERA has gone from 3.94. to 4.77 and the complete games pitched has dropped from 371 to 59.How can you compare numbers?  https://www.baseball...MLB/pitch.shtml

 

 

 

I am not a big Mussina fan.He pitched for really good teams and was never the real leader.I know he has many pushing for him, but I am fine if he is out.I am also fine if Morris is out, but the old ERA standard is about to go away if we are going to put any modern era pitchers in.In the era of the HR the ERA for the entire league is going up and the innings are going down.In a big game I would take Morris over Mussina any day.Since 1993 league ERA has gone from 3.94. to 4.77 and the complete games pitched has dropped from 371 to 59.How can you compare numbers?  https://www.baseball...MLB/pitch.shtml

Yes, ERAs went up that high since 1993, yet Mussina (who started in '96) still bested Morris' ERA by half a run.

 

ERA+ compares how a pitcher's ERA compares to others in their time.Mussina's is 123, Morris is 105.That's a considerable difference.Means Morris' ERA was 5% better than league average while Mussina's was 23% better than league average.  

 

Mussina's K rate was 7.0/9, his walk rate was 2.0/9, his WHIP was 1.192.

Morris' K rate was 5.8/9, his walk rate was 3.3/9, his WHIP was 1.296.

 

Mussina's playoff ERA: 3.42, with a 9.3K, and 2.1 BB/9
Morris' playoff ERA: 3.80, with a 6.2K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

 

Mussina was way better than Morris even in the playoffs.

 

And as far as new stats go, Mussina has 82.2 fWAR.Morris 55.8.

 

 

 

 

I certainly think both Mussina and Morris could be in the HOF (I'm a big hall guy). Glavine in before Moose isn't a huge problem when you consider all the extra innings he threw. For his career, Moose threw about 3500 innings w/123 ERA+ over 18 seasons. From 91-06, Glavine threw 3500 innings w/127 ERA+.He then threw another 900 or so innings (not counting the 200+ postseason innings). Rate stats are good but they have limits. 

 

One thing that is very hard for pitchers to do is be top 10 in both ERA+ and IP in the same year. You throw that many innings, your rate stats drop. Glavine managed that 9 times. Moose 7x. Pedro 5x. Schilling 6x. Smoltz 4x. Morris 3x.

    • Don Walcott likes this
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Don Walcott
Nov 09 2017 01:05 PM

ERA+ relies on some very dubious assumptions regarding defensive statistics and ballpark factors. The Morris debate actually highlights the deficiencies in ERA+ and bWAR (which uses ERA+),

 

Baseball Reference has Morris' best season as 1979, when he pitched 197.2 innings (he got called up at the end of May). He had a 3.27 ERA. However, Tiger Stadium was considered a hitters park that year, and his defense wasn't considered to be very good. In 1983, he pitched 293.2 innings with a 3.34 ERA. However, Tiger Stadium had magically transformed into a pitcher's park (partly due to the Tigers staff being the best in the league in 1984), and his defense was considered better. So his ERA+ was better in 1979, and hence his bWAR ended up better in 1979. To me, this is ridiculous.

 

There's no question Morris was better in 1983. He threw nearly 96 more innings at basically the same ERA. He had a 19.3% strikeout rate and 6.9% walk rate, compared to 14% and 7.3% in 1979.He had a 1.158 WHIP compared to 1.204 in 1979. How on earth could bWAR be 5.8 in 1979 and only 4.0 in 1983? Well, because ERA+ and bWAR are terrible rating systems for starting pitchers.

 

Morris' fWAR for 1983 was 6.2 and for 1979 it was 3.6.

 

So fWAR has Morris 2.6 games better in 1983, and bWAR has Morris 1.8 games better in 1979. These rating systems not only don't align, they actually completely disagree about value.

 

The reason this doesn't make sense is that these rating systems are not perfect, nor should they be relied upon in assessing historical facts. The rating systems are better at prediction, as they are based on hypothetical value, not actual historical value.

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OldManWinter
Nov 09 2017 02:23 PM
If I had a vote, Jack Morris would be enshrined!

It is not possible to fairly rate players against each other, even as a HOF candidate or a minimum accomplishment for HOF enshrinement. HOF credentials are very individual.

Morris was a star among stars as an active player, better than his peers and better than many members already enshrined.

Oliva and Kaat would be members by now if I voted too.

Both players careers were cut short by significant injuries. But, IMO still had sufficient credentials even if post injury performances were less than before!

No doubt players from other teams have been equally snubbed.

I say the standard should credit players for their accomplishments, not hold them out because of an obscure miss of a hurdle.

 

Yes, ERAs went up that high since 1993, yet Mussina (who started in '96) still bested Morris' ERA by half a run.

 

ERA+ compares how a pitcher's ERA compares to others in their time.Mussina's is 123, Morris is 105.That's a considerable difference.Means Morris' ERA was 5% better than league average while Mussina's was 23% better than league average.  

 

Mussina's K rate was 7.0/9, his walk rate was 2.0/9, his WHIP was 1.192.

Morris' K rate was 5.8/9, his walk rate was 3.3/9, his WHIP was 1.296.

 

Mussina's playoff ERA: 3.42, with a 9.3K, and 2.1 BB/9
Morris' playoff ERA: 3.80, with a 6.2K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

 

Mussina was way better than Morris even in the playoffs.

 

And as far as new stats go, Mussina has 82.2 fWAR.Morris 55.8.

You write a good post and have great stats.Its hard to explain why I would still take Morris, but that is the truth. 

    • jimmer likes this

Marvin Miller not being in the hall is the biggest travesty. If you made a list of the five people who changed baseball the most, Marvin Miller would be on that list and could rightfully be at the top. It is a travesty that baseball's owners have blackballed him from the Hall - especially because he undoubtedly made them money. Miller paved the path for baseball to go big business, forcing the owners to get the players on board to expand the game the way it currently is.

 

It's so sad he never got to go in during his lifetime. No one loved baseball more and no one did more to make baseball the game it is today. It's only America's irrational hatred of union leaders that keeps his absence from being a front page story every election year.

 

Ugh.

 

In games he started where there was a save chance but he stayed in, he was 49 of 52 (94%) akin to Dennis Eckersley in his MVP and Cy Young season.

 

 

This is a fascinating stat. Someone should do an article about this (probably can't do much in modern baseball because it happens so infrequently) but it would be a fascinating view of baseball history to see who could have used a closer and who didn't really miss one.

    • wsnydes likes this

This question or point certainly doesn't hold water but I think it would be interesting to ask those who are in the Hall who faced Morris if they feel he is HOF worthy or not?   

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biggentleben
Nov 10 2017 07:33 PM

 

Marvin Miller not being in the hall is the biggest travesty. If you made a list of the five people who changed baseball the most, Marvin Miller would be on that list and could rightfully be at the top. It is a travesty that baseball's owners have blackballed him from the Hall - especially because he undoubtedly made them money. Miller paved the path for baseball to go big business, forcing the owners to get the players on board to expand the game the way it currently is.

 

It's so sad he never got to go in during his lifetime. No one loved baseball more and no one did more to make baseball the game it is today. It's only America's irrational hatred of union leaders that keeps his absence from being a front page story every election year.

 

Ugh.

 

Thing is that he asked not to be inducted if he wasn't by the time he passed. Many feel his nomination now is disrespectful to his wishes.

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The Wise One
Nov 10 2017 10:44 PM

 

You write a good post and have great stats.Its hard to explain why I would still take Morris, but that is the truth. 

Morris was about the only significant change on a last place team that ended up winning a WS. That is not something that Mussina could ever claim. Morris was a leader, Mussina? IDK.Sometimes the beauty contest is about intangibles and humansrather than just cold statistics. 

    • mikelink45 and Don Walcott like this
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biggentleben
Nov 14 2017 12:08 AM

 

Morris was about the only significant change on a last place team that ended up winning a WS. That is not something that Mussina could ever claim. Morris was a leader, Mussina? IDK.Sometimes the beauty contest is about intangibles and humansrather than just cold statistics. 

 

Except that you had the rookie of the year, Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Pagliarulo, Scott Leius, a guy who finished with votes for MVP, Chili Davis, and basically an entire new setup crew - Mark Guthrie, Carl Willis, and Steve Bedrosian. The 1991 team was a big makeover from that 1990 team. Don't kid yourself.

    • jimmer likes this

 

This question or point certainly doesn't hold water but I think it would be interesting to ask those who are in the Hall who faced Morris if they feel he is HOF worthy or not?   

 

It might be interesting, but I wouldn't expect it to be informative. Players are notorious for overrating the guys they played with/against.


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