• A Hall Without Jack Morris Is No Hall at All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





    Photo Courtesy of Rick Stewart-Getty Images

    This article was originally published in blog: A Hall Without Jack Morris is No Hall at All started by bwille
    Comments 127 Comments
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Koufax is a really high standard to surpass.

      Would Don Drysdale or Robin Roberts and many others be in the HOF if they needed to meet that standard?
      I didn't say they had to pass the Koufax standard. I listed four great players with incredibly diverse skill sets to counter your argument that different players deserve to be in the hall. The common trait between those four is greatness... A trait that Jack Morris did not consistently show during his career.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      There are many reasons to be upset with the BBWAA and their voting process.

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

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

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

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

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

      And then there's Mike Piazza. The best offensive catcher in history and it's not even really close. Never linked to PED use, played in monster stadiums his entire career, and a hell of a guy to boot. But nah, don't vote for him. This is the Hall of Fame. Not the Hall of... uh... Great?
      Thats your opinion and I respect it, but there is so much more than numbers involved here. Anyone from his era who watched him pitch knows he's a hall of famer. So many people today whose only connection to Morris is video of him striking out Ron Gant and crunching numbers on their laptop. Numbers dont do him justice, and when you add in his postseason resume, it just floors me he cant get in.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      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.
      "Opening Day starter" and "best pitcher" are not synonymous. There are a host of reasons not to start your "best pitcher" on Opening Day:

      1. He might be injured.

      2. He might be in the minors.

      3. He might be young and you want to defer the pressure of Opening Day to a veteran.

      4. You might trust a particular veteran more than another.

      Continue ad nauseum.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      Thats your opinion and I respect it, but there is so much more than numbers involved here. Anyone from his era who watched him pitch knows he's a hall of famer. So many people today whose only connection to Morris is video of him striking out Ron Gant and crunching numbers on their laptop. Numbers dont do him justice, and when you add in his postseason resume, it just floors me he cant get in.
      If he's so great, why don't the numbers do him justice? I'm sorry, but that makes no sense to me.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      Thats your opinion and I respect it, but there is so much more than numbers involved here. Anyone from his era who watched him pitch knows he's a hall of famer. So many people today whose only connection to Morris is video of him striking out Ron Gant and crunching numbers on their laptop. Numbers dont do him justice, and when you add in his postseason resume, it just floors me he cant get in.
      The numbers do tell the entire story. Jack Morris was a pitcher whose career is comparable to Charlie Hough, Jamie Moyer, and players of that ilk. Very good pitchers who pitched for a very long time but were not consistently dominant. And that's fine. I'm not taking anything away from Morris, particularly his postseason accomplishments. He was a very good pitcher. Not a great one, unless you want to really weight his postseason accomplishments. During the regular season, he was merely a good pitcher.

      And for the record, I watched many games pitched by Jack Morris. The difference is that I'm not letting a handful of games distort my view of who he was as a pitcher.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      I also reject the notion that a player is either a Hall of Famer or just a commoner. Can't Jack Morris be a great player, but not worthy of the Hall of Fame? That doesn't mean he's some Joe Mays-level player, but it also doesn't mean he belongs with Bert Blyleven and the other pitchers who were just better than Morris.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Quote Originally Posted by markos View Post
      This.

      Jack Morris is already memorialized in the Hall of Fame for having one of the greatest World Series pitching performances in one of the greatest World Series games in one of the greatest World Series in baseball history. He was not one of the greatest pitchers of all time. So he is already in the Hall for exactly the reason that he should be.


      Nice. Thanks for the other comments after my previous post. Heaven forbid I look that stuff up on my own.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Kenny Rogers (who was a Minnesota Twin for exactly as long as Morris was) and got a single vote had higher career WAR than Morris. Did not see many cries from the Twin Cities crowd there. Brad Radke had a higher career WAR than Morris. And he was a Twin for life. Did not see many cries there either.

      The two former Twins who should be in this large inclusive hall are Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, not the Tiger Jack Morris
      I cant believe how often this off season I am agreeing with Thrylos...but he is right. Jack Morris is borderline HOF. Jim Kaat belongs there. Kaat has the most wins of any pitcher not in the HOF. IMHO he was the best fielding pitcher of my lifetime. I am not a big believer in WAR so I cant tell you how he stands there.

      Morris is among a group of pitchers who are borderline including Mussina, Schilling, etc. Now I will be more upset if those two get in than I am now. I would have voted for Morris but his omission is not a big deal.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      Why are we wasting time on this board discussing Jack Morris? He was the past, let's talk about the future of the Twins, to me that is much more productive and interesting.
      Feel free to not discuss a topic you don't find interesting. There are going to be things some people want to talk about that don't interest you.
    1. Celebrity Weddings!'s Avatar
      Celebrity Weddings! -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      Anyone from his era who watched him pitch knows he's a hall of famer.
      Since he didn't get elected in fifteen tries, that's clearly not the case.
    1. 108 Double Stitches's Avatar
      108 Double Stitches -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      If he's so great, why don't the numbers do him justice? I'm sorry, but that makes no sense to me.
      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?

      Even though I think Morris should be in the HOF, I have to admidt that I am partly pissed it took them soooooo long to let Blyleven in, and some of the arguments are the same arguments (i.e., but look at pitcher xxx). Blyleven is obviously more deserving than Morris, but they are both being disprected in the discussion as a whole.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Kenny Rogers (who was a Minnesota Twin for exactly as long as Morris was) and got a single vote had higher career WAR than Morris. Brad Radke had a higher career WAR than Morris.
      If thats not an indictment on WAR, I dont know what is. And I say this respectfully, because I get vibes that saying anything bad about WAR is practically a ban-able offense.
    1. UCLA_YANKEE_COLA's Avatar
      UCLA_YANKEE_COLA -
      Not even particularly close. If you take game 7 away he's remembered somewhere in the Chuck Finley/Mark Langston/Jamie Moyer/Rick Sutcliffe group of pretty good pitchers. No one saved their rookie cards though.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      If thats not an indictment on WAR, I dont know what is. And I say this respectfully, because I get vibes that saying anything bad about WAR is practically a ban-able offense.
      If you don't like WAR, then take a gander at Morris' ERA+ of 105.

      Yep, over the course of his career, Jack Morris was barely above league average at preventing runs from scoring.

      Some luminaries that have a higher career ERA+ than Jack Morris:

      (you know what, the list is so comically long that I'm just going to post the link)

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/le...s_career.shtml
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      Why are we wasting time on this board discussing Jack Morris? He was the past, let's talk about the future of the Twins, to me that is much more productive and interesting.
      What on earth is wrong with discussing the past?
    1. UCLA_YANKEE_COLA's Avatar
      UCLA_YANKEE_COLA -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      Thats your opinion and I respect it, but there is so much more than numbers involved here.
      Wait, what exactly did Jack Morris do that is not reflected in his statistics?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by UCLA_YANKEE_COLA View Post
      Wait, what exactly did Jack Morris do that is not reflected in his statistics?
      Well, he grew a pretty sweet 'stache.
    1. 108 Double Stitches's Avatar
      108 Double Stitches -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      If he's so great, why don't the numbers do him justice? I'm sorry, but that makes no sense to me.
      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?

      Even though I think Morris should be in the HOF, I have to admidt that I am partly pissed it took them soooooo long to let Blyleven in, and some of the arguments are the same arguments (i.e., but look at pitcher xxx). Blyleven is obviously more deserving than Morris, but they are both being disprected in the discussion as a whole.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      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?
      I don't think anyone can question his durability. I think that the anti-Morris HOF crowd just thinks he wasn't good enough during those innings to be worth of the Hall of Fame.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      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?
      Jack Morris led the league in IP once in his career. Let's not confuse durability with greatness.
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