Looking at the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot: Jack Morris

12/17/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - Looking at the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot: Jack MorrisThe Hall of Fame ballot is almost nothing but controversy these days. One of those lightning rods is Jack Morris, now on the BBWAA ballot for the final time. His case has been argued ad nauseam for 15 years now, but let's go around the block one more time. We'll start with Pat for those who want brevity.

Pat: The case for Jack Morris is a lot more cut-and-dry than most people would like to think. It really boils down to this: Was he ever the best pitcher of his era?

The easy answer is no. He wasn't even close, really. He never won a Cy Young, and never finished higher than 3rd. Also, his career ERA was 3.90, which is alarmingly pedestrian. He never once had a sub-3.00 ERA in a season, and his career ERA+ is 105 (100 is average).
 
Morris was a horse, and he was a good pitcher for a while. But the Hall of Fame isn't for good pitchers. It's for the all-time greats. Sorry, but Jack Morris simply isn't one of them.
 
WILL HE GET IN: Nope. The last two years were definitely his best chance. But now, as the ballot gets more and more congested, guys like Morris drop lower on the list. Especially since there are several pitchers on the ballot for the first time (Maddux, Glavine) who are undeniably better. Morris will once again be on the outside looking in, and his vote total might actually drop for the first time since 2007.
 
Eric: First, let’s all be happy this is the last time we have to debate Jack Morris (well, unless he ends up on a Veterans’ Committee ballot). The lines in the sand on this one and pretty much drawn, and I’m not going to bury the lede here, I’m a NO.
 
There is an argument for Morris that can be made honestly. I don’t quite buy it, but at least it’s based on concrete facts, such as:
  • His durability. Very few of Morris’s contemporaries lasted nearly as long and his 175 complete games is high, especially compared to now.
  • Game 7, 1991. I think too much emphasis is placed on this (if we based HoF on one game, Don Larsen would be in), but it’s a well deserved feather in Morris’s cap.
  • His 254 wins and “the most of the 1980s.” My thoughts on pitcher wins are well known by now, and using arbitrary endpoints is not usually how I like to go, but for some, this is a legitimate argument.
The problem is the pro-Morris people don’t base their advocacy on that stuff, at least in total. There’s a lot of mushy stuff about Morris being a “gamer” and a “winner,” and that biggest canard of all, “pitching to the score.” Pitching to the score is just not a thing. Studies have been done and they have not shown it to be a thing. Morris advocates need to hang on to that though to excuse his career 3.90 ERA, which would be the highest ever elected. Yes, even higher than the Veterans Committee oddball choices. They need it because how else to explain years like 1992, when Morris won 21 games with a 4.04 ERA. Well, you know other than the fact he was pitching for the World Champion Blue Jays that year. They need Game 7 in 1991 to cover up that Morris’s postseason numbers in total aren’t that eye popping (7-4, 3.80 ERA).
 
The crusade against Morris, while admittedly not helping the rhetoric, isn’t personal. If Morris gets elected, good for him. Seriously. What drives the “stat people” crazy is the argument. If it was simply “Morris ate a lot of innings, won a lot of games, and had one of the best World Series starts ever,” it wouldn’t be like this, because that stuff is all true. It’s when things cross over to solely narrative that it gets frustrating, and that’s mostly what the pro-Morris camp is peddling. If there’s one thing those in the stat community would like most, it’s less use of narrative and more use of actual evidence in making these decisions.
 
WILL HE GET IN: He was 42 votes shy last year. I thought a combination of old-timey sportswriters, plus the anti-PED and the anti-stats voting bloc would’ve gotten him across the line, but his vote total was basically flat. As I said above, the lines in the sand might be too entrenched for it to happen for Morris. However, this is his last chance, so every voter is going to give him one last look. It’s going to be close. If we’re being honest though, if it doesn’t happen here, it’s probably happening via the Veterans Committee.

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12/17/13   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

Eric_ wrote:
I know Blyleven and Morris are compared because Blyleven's candidacy was pushed hard by stat people, and the Morris candidacy is in many ways a response to that, but Blyleven had a real case, even if you didn't agree with it. Morris mostly doesn't.

Whether or not a case could be made really depends on where one places their standards.  I have high standards.  Therefore, I do not feel a case could be made for Blyleven.

12/17/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

ML31 wrote:
This is an obvious NO.  Morris is right there with Blyleven in my opinion.  And Blyleven sure ans hell shouldn't be in either.  Sadly the argument exists that since Blyleven is in, then Morris should too.  I hate that argument because it suggests that because poor decisions were made in the past that we should continue making poor decisions.

I know Blyleven and Morris are compared because Blyleven's candidacy was pushed hard by stat people, and the Morris candidacy is in many ways a response to that, but Blyleven had a real case, even if you didn't agree with it. Morris mostly doesn't.

12/17/13   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

This is an obvious NO.  Morris is right there with Blyleven in my opinion.  And Blyleven sure ans hell shouldn't be in either.  Sadly the argument exists that since Blyleven is in, then Morris should too.  I hate that argument because it suggests that because poor decisions were made in the past that we should continue making poor decisions.