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  • Jack Morris' HOF Candidacy Seems All But Dead

    For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers' Association of America did not select anyone to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This was the eighth time that no one was selected by the writers but most onlookers could see this coming. The influx of suspected steroid users on the ballot makes it tough to judge players and there has been plenty of debate surrounding who should be elected in the coming years.

    Craig Biggio was the closest person to getting 75% of the vote needed to be enshrined but he only mustered 68.2% in his first year on the ballot. Twins World Series hero Jack Morris came in second with 67.7% of the vote in his 14th year on the ballot. Rounding out the rest of the top five were Jeff Bagwell (59.6%), Mike Piazza (57.8%), and Tim Raines (52.2%).
    In my ballot that I released last week, I hoped that Biggio and Bagwell would comprise the Class of 2013. I knew this was a long shot but it seemed fitting for two of the former "Killer B's" from the Astros. With so many other worthy candidates, I had a full ballot of 10 players but I divided them into different categories. Those categories included: "Future Inductions," "May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot)," and the "Under-Appreciated Duo." Check out the entire piece to see the reasons I gave for each selection.

    For Morris, it was discouraging to see that he only made a small jump in the voting. In the 2012 voting, he finished in second place with 66.7% of the vote and it was looking like he could make the jump needed to get to 75%. His 1% increase this year doesn't bode well for the 57-year old former pitcher that will be on the ballot for one last time in 2013. As more players from the steroids era enter the ballot, the numbers for Morris look more likely that they won't stack up to the competition.

    The clock is ticking for Jack Morris since there will be some very strong first time candidates on next year's ballot. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas will all have strong cases to be elected in their first time on the ballot. There will also be some strong returning candidates like Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza. Morris will get one more chance but the odds are not exactly looking like they will be in his favor when it comes to election time next January.

    When compared to Glavine and Maddux, Morris doesn't seem to stand a chance on the 2014 ballot. Maddux has a career WAR of 101.6 and this should make him almost a lock to be a first ballot selection. Glavine has a very good 76.8 WAR, which isn't as high as Maddux but it is still very good. Morris is much further down the list with a 39.3 WAR and that would rank sixth among pitchers on next year's ballot.

    There are plenty of people on both sides of the debate surrounding Morris. Some writers have loudly pushed for Morris to get in as he runs out of years on the ballot. Other's have compared Morris to other top pitchers and his numbers don't exactly stand out above the crowd. With one year left, the voices against Morris seem to be bringing down any momentum that he had building in the last couple of years.

    Twins fans saw Bert Blyleven get elected in his 14th year of eligibility so there were some that thought this might be the year for Morris. Blyleven had much better numbers for his career and his induction should have come much sooner than it did. The extra years on the ballot helped to build the narrative in favor of Blyleven. The problem for Morris has been the fact that the narrative has been building as much against him as it has been for him.

    Morris pitched one of the biggest games in World Series history and he happened to be wearing a Twins uniform when he did it. On my ballot, I voted for Morris because of the nostalgia involved with Game 7 from 1991. He was the last addition to my ballot so if I had to remove one player it would have probably been him.

    Does this mean that he probably doesn't deserve to be in the Hall? Most likely...
    This article was originally published in blog: Morris' candidacy seems all but dead started by Cody Christie
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. dwintheiser's Avatar
      dwintheiser -
      I'll agree that, with Glavine and Maddux entering the ballot next year, it doesn't look like Morris will get into the Hall via the BBWAA election.

      But guys like Morris are exactly why the Veterans' Committee exists. He'll be in eventually.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think Morris' candidacy has become pretty political and it doesn't look good for either side. I wish someone who is a stat head would come out in support of him. Going by fWAR, Morris avg more WAR per season than a guy like Tim Raines and had just as many 4WAR seasons. I've read a million times that Stieb was the better pitcher yet Morris had more career WAR and a higher WAR/season. And if you gave Stieb 100 more complete games, Morris still threw more innings. His career WAR is higher than HOFers like Jim Palmer, Carl Hubbell and Chief Bender.

      You also hear that Morris had one good post season game but you don't remember that in his first 5 WS games he was 4-0 with 1.97 ERA.
    1. benchwarmerjim's Avatar
      benchwarmerjim -
      according to baseball reference, Mike Mussina is on the ballot next year.
      stack Mussina next to Morris and the traditional stats say Mussina was a little bit better.
    1. mgraves's Avatar
      mgraves -
      Brad Radke accumulated 42.6 bWAR in 12 seasons, whereas Morris accumulated 39.3 bWAR in 18 seasons. Radke had a career ERA+ of 113, while Morris' is 105. Their career post-season ERAs are virtually equivalent despite Radke pitching in a more offense heavy era (Radke 3.60, Morris 3.80).

      In K/9 Morris holds a clear edge, as he pitched during an era of fewer strikeouts and still struck out more, but his K/BB ratio is not even in the same ballpark as Radke, which is why Morris had a higher WHIP.

      The fact that the two can be compared--oftentimes to Radke's favor--does not speak well for Morris. Radke got two votes in his only year of eligibility, and I would have rather had an in his prime Radke over an in his prime Morris.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by benchwarmerjim View Post
      according to baseball reference, Mike Mussina is on the ballot next year.
      stack Mussina next to Morris and the traditional stats say Mussina was a little bit better.
      Morris' postseason: ERA: 3.80
      Mussina's postseason: ERA 3.42

      Morris' career ERA is 3.90
      Mussina's career ERA is 3.68

      Morris' career ERA+: 105
      Mussina's career ERA+: 123

      Mussina had more Ks, better K/BB ratio, better K/9, better BB/9, a better WHIP, more Ks, less HR allowed...and for those who care about the win stat, and most Morris' HOF backers hang their hat on that stat, more wins as well. All that in a more hitter friendly time.

      They don't seem too close, IMO
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      I'm a Twins fan, so I vote for Jack.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by mgraves View Post
      Brad Radke accumulated 42.6 bWAR in 12 seasons, whereas Morris accumulated 39.3 bWAR in 18 seasons. Radke had a career ERA+ of 113, while Morris' is 105. Their career post-season ERAs are virtually equivalent despite Radke pitching in a more offense heavy era (Radke 3.60, Morris 3.80).

      In K/9 Morris holds a clear edge, as he pitched during an era of fewer strikeouts and still struck out more, but his K/BB ratio is not even in the same ballpark as Radke, which is why Morris had a higher WHIP.

      The fact that the two can be compared--oftentimes to Radke's favor--does not speak well for Morris. Radke got two votes in his only year of eligibility, and I would have rather had an in his prime Radke over an in his prime Morris.
      All that is true. Radke is one of the most under rated pitchers of his generation. He had as many 5 WAR seasons as Beckett and Lackey combined, for instance. His avg WAR/season (fWAR or bWAR) is higher than a lot of candidates - Raines, Trammel, Murphy etc. People looked at his lack of strikeouts and stopped looking. But over his 12 years in the league, he was 10th in WAR, behind 7 HOFers, and two roiders - Pettitte and Kevin Brown. He amassed more WAR than Glavine. Stunningly under rated pitcher.

      That said, Morris does have 1400 more innings on him. Basically, Radke could throw 150 more complete games and still be short. And fWAR rates Morris a lot better than bWAR. As mentioned, it rates him better than Jim Palmer.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Jack Morris does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Jack Morris does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
      Thank you.

      I know we all love Jack for what he did for the Twins in 91. We all love that he's from here. But no one can tell me that Morris is a slam-dunk hall of famer. He's borderline. And in my opinion, anybody who is a borderline hall of famer is not a hall of famer. That includes Blyleven as well.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Jack Morris does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
      Maybe, maybe not. I tend to be a big hall guy so I think there's room for him. I think his durability has been pretty under rated and we'll see his WAR numbers go up once the stat heads start investigating the impact of ip on the team.

      Raines and Morris are interesting. WAR makes a better case for Raines than his traditional numbers and vice versa but it should be pointed out that both have good numbers in either traditional or new stats. Both are very good players and among the best to have played. That said, I suspect people tend to think that WAR is accurate to the decimal point. But there really isn't much difference between a 4.3 WAR and a 4.2 WAR, for instance. Raines has more career WAR but he played 23 seasons. On a per year basis, Morris avg slightly more (3.16 to 3.06). But that isn't really fair since Raines had a couple call up seasons, so if we exclude pre-rookie seasons, Raines is slightly ahead (3.37 to 3.31). But that isn't really fair to Morris, since he was a relief pitcher his rookie year. So if we adjust again, Morris is slightly ahead again (3.49 to 3.34). Interestingly, neither is very close to Radke's per season WAR - 3.85.

      The other argument would be that Raines had a better peak, which is a good argument. From 83-87 he might have been the best player in the NL. But Morris had some strong seasons as well. If you accept that 3.9 is the same as 4.0, both had 8 4 WAR seasons, which means Morris was a 4 WAR player in 45% of his seasons compared to Raines 35%. If you don't accept 3.9WAR is no different than a 4.0 WAR, than Morris drops to 33%). Obviously, Raines peak seasons were higher - he had 6 6 WAR seasons and Morris only had 1. On the other hand, Raines also had 9 seasons of less than 2 WAR, to Morris' 4. In fact, for his career outside of that 5 year peak, Raines avg 2 WAR year.

      Obviously there are issues comparing pitchers and outfielders but there's also a ton of problems relying on WAR anyway. Both players have narratives put forward by their supporters. Raines supporters claim his baserunning and defense were major under appreciated assets while ignoring that he was a very bad defensive player by dWAR and TZ. He had a weak arm and didn't run good routes.

      I'm honestly not sure if either is a HOFer although I think the hall under represents the 80s by a ton so I'd be happy to have both in. I think Morris has become a lightning rod for stat heads to oppose. I wish more analysis was put into the value of durability. Now that Verlander is doing his thing, we're starting to hear about how CGs help rest the bullpen and gives the team a value that isn't currently being calculated. We have seen views changed on players after the stats were recalculated. Stat heads started to come around on Dawson when wOBA had him on par with HOFers such as Yount and his career win share (the 'in' stat at the time) was recalculated to be higher than Blyleven's. Recently, B-R readjusted WAR and added 11 WAR to Torii Hunter over a 9 year period. All of sudden, Hunter was no longer viewed as overrated.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      There is no "maybe." Jack Morris is not a HOF pitcher! Get off it. He was great for the Twins and had a nice career, but he is not a HOF pitcher. He just wasn't good enough. I just don't get the infatuation with an above average pitcher.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      There is no "maybe." Jack Morris is not a HOF pitcher! Get off it. He was great for the Twins and had a nice career, but he is not a HOF pitcher. He just wasn't good enough. I just don't get the infatuation with an above average pitcher.
      Attachment 3042
    1. Pius Jefferson's Avatar
      Pius Jefferson -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Morris' postseason: ERA: 3.80
      Mussina's postseason: ERA 3.42

      Morris' career ERA is 3.90
      Mussina's career ERA is 3.68

      Morris' career ERA+: 105
      Mussina's career ERA+: 123

      Mussina had more Ks, better K/BB ratio, better K/9, better BB/9, a better WHIP, more Ks, less HR allowed...and for those who care about the win stat, and most Morris' HOF backers hang their hat on that stat, more wins as well. All that in a more hitter friendly time.

      They don't seem too close, IMO
      That's because they aren't close. Mussina is however arguably the better pitcher than Tom Glavine.

      Glavine: ERA+ 118
      Mussina: ERA+ 123

      Glavine: WAR 69.3
      Mussina: WAR 78.1
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pius Jefferson View Post
      That's because they aren't close. Mussina is however arguably the better pitcher than Tom Glavine.

      Glavine: ERA+ 118
      Mussina: ERA+ 123

      Glavine: WAR 69.3
      Mussina: WAR 78.1
      It's definitely arguable, Glavine has the two Cy Youngs (with two 2nd place finishes and two 3rd place finishes). Mussina never got one, and only finished in the top 3 once (he finished 2nd, and I don't know how that happened that year)

      Additionally, although I'm not much of a wins equals greatness kind of guy, the voters will point to Glavine leading the league in wins 5 times. He also led the league in ERA+ once.

      I'm a fan of Mussina...I hope he gets in..and I think he will. I'm pretty darn positive Glavine will.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      All joking aside, I wonder if we appreciate just how great this retiring pitching group was. The top five guys - Clemens, Unit, Pedro, Maddux and Glavine averaged 300 wins and everyone won at least two Cy Youngs. After those five, Moose, Schilling and Smoltz should make the HOF and Brown, Moyer, Wells and Cone were all great pitchers. It was an amazing run.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I feel for Jack Morris and the supporters on his candidacy. He was a terrific player in his day and a crucial part of 2 World Series winners (not so much for his time in Toronto, where he was decent in the regular season in 1992, brutal in the playoffs which carried over for the remainder of his time in baseball). He pitched a TON of innings, started a TON of games and pitched well. He pitched in big games and was seen as an "ace". He had 2 fantastic World Series, not just the 1991 game 7. (Morris was great the entire 1984 & 1991 WS; people forget about the 2 complete games in '84)

      So it's easy to see how he's got some passionate defenders. And Jack would hardly be the worst HoF pick, especially if you emphasize the "fame" aspect over sheer ability and achievement. And some of the "stat-head" crowd have been a little too sneeringly dismissive of Morris as a HoFer, which just gets his supporters to dig in harder against advanced stats and so forth.

      But at the end of the day, Morris is a borderline candidate at best for me. He's the Top Dog in the Hall of Very Good. I simply don't buy into the argument that Morris "pitched to the score" to explain away the high ERA. And the ERA is just too high for me. The ERA+ of 105 just doesn't fly. I can't find a lot of secondary stats to support jack Morris that aren't tied to starts & innings pitched. Do you know what category Jack Morris led the league in the most times? Wild pitches. Did it 6 times, including his final, abbreviated season. Going beyond the stats, the best description of Jack Morris is "workhorse". From a subjective point of view, does that scream Hall of Fame? The peak just isn't high enough for me (top bWAR is 5.6, top ERA+ is 133 and after that age 24 season he never crossed a bWAR of 5 or ERA+ of 130 again), despite the longevity.

      Morris does get extra points for some of his workhorse stats, and should get notice & credit. 10 seasons over 240 innings pitched. 11 seasons with 30+ starts. 11 seasons with 10+ complete games. Those are really really impressive numbers and a lot of teams would simply kill for a guy that could go out and pitch that many innings and keep you in a game.

      Compared to a guy like Curt Schilling, it's hard to say Morris stacks up. The only category Morris wins is in durability. Schilling had a high peak, more great seasons, a far better ERA+, more K's, also had the great post-season heroics.

      Mussina is a better comp, especially in style, right? Still hard to pick Morris over Mussina. The toughest beat against Mussina is he never lead his league is basically anything. But Mussina was a more effective pitcher than Morris. Higher peak, higher sustained effectiveness. Similar longevity. Morris wins on innings pitched, but 250 innings spread over 18 seasons just doesn't make up for the huge differences in ERA+ (123 for Mussina, 105 for Morris). Morris wins on post-season success, but I look at it for bonus points more than anything.

      Schilling and Mussina are both Hall of Famers for me, I think, but both of them have some warts that keep them from being slam dunks like a Greg Maddox or Pedro Martinez. But both are easily above Jack Morris for me too.

      I don't think Morris is going to make it, and that ok by me. I'm not going to rage if he gets in, either.
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      Whats annoying is there will be a lot of years in which we won't have a hall of famer. There is no reasoning behind a lot reasons why somebody doesn't get in. My idea of hall of famer was purely emotional and now it requires to much evidence. First year hall bias, Character crap, and sabermetrics kill the excitement.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      There are a lot of factors that go into how a pitcher does. Does anyone here remember that Morris pitched his entire career in band boxes. The old Tiger statium was a left handed hitters dream, not also counting the Metrodome and the Blue Jays statium.
      2. How do you think Maddox and Glavine would have faired in todays modern era where umpires are graded on their ball and strike calls. Both of those pitchers, because of their control, got a number of pitchs 2+ inches off the plate called strikes. Only one early strike like that can adjust a hitter mentallity of what they have to swing at. When you as a pitcher do not have to throw a true strike, you can become that much more a better pitcher. These guys were great at what they did, but you cannot convince me they were really great pitchers.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      There are a lot of factors that go into how a pitcher does. Does anyone here remember that Morris pitched his entire career in band boxes. The old Tiger statium was a left handed hitters dream, not also counting the Metrodome and the Blue Jays statium.
      2. How do you think Maddox and Glavine would have faired in todays modern era where umpires are graded on their ball and strike calls. Both of those pitchers, because of their control, got a number of pitchs 2+ inches off the plate called strikes. Only one early strike like that can adjust a hitter mentallity of what they have to swing at. When you as a pitcher do not have to throw a true strike, you can become that much more a better pitcher. These guys were great at what they did, but you cannot convince me they were really great pitchers.
      Morris had the same career ERA at home and on the road. Oh, and ERA+ accounts for a few different factors including ballparks. Career ERA+ is 105.

      And if you don't think MaddUx was a great pitcher, I don't know what to tell you...
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