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December 29, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Jack Morris

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

When someone brings up Jack Morris…people point to what some call (with all do respect to Don Larsen and Curt Schilling), one of the most memorable performances ever in the World Series.

It was his 1991 post season performance with the Twins (four victories scattered across five games), coupled with his 1984 and 1992 appearances, that make most people stand up and take notice of the mustachioed hurler.

But all those successes aside, it was in the 80s where Morris made a name for himself…not just in October. And it’s safe to say that if the Hall of Fame decides to start looking at pitchers who made their bread and butter throughout the 80s…Morris would be at the top of the list.

Let’s break down the facts.

While not the sole reason to induct someone, Morris had the consistency and durability needed to become the epitome of a pitching Iron Horse. Matter of fact, this innings hog (he had eleven seasons of more than 235 innings pitched) also holds the record for most consecutive opening day starts…14.

And if you thought Cal Ripken’s streak was impressive (it was), Morris went nearly 500 starts without missing his turn in the rotation. He only appeared on the disabled list twice.

Again, not a reason to bronze his head…but not too shabby either.

On to more conventional stats, Morris notched a career 254-186 record…good for a .577 winning percentage.

For the record, 254 wins is more than Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Whitey Ford among plenty of others. In the 80s alone…Morris won a decade best 162 games, compiled a .577 winning percentage and exhibited his amazing consistency by finishing in the top ten of the Cy Young Award voting in half of the decade’s contests.

He finished in the top five in 1991 and 1992 as well.

As alluded to earlier, Morris was the ace of three World Series teams (he was injured and couldn’t play in 1993 or else there’d be a fourth)…the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays. And he threw a no hitter.

Instead of repeating myself…let’s look at these numbers from 1979-1992.

Jack Morris...233
Bob Welch...192
Dave Stieb...174
Nolan Ryan...168

Jack Morris...169
Fernando Valenzuela...107
Charlie Hough...106
Dave Stieb...103

ERA (2,200 IP min.)
Nolan Ryan...3.21
Bob Welch...3.32
Fernando Valenzuela...3.34
Dave Stieb...3.39
Dennis Martinez..3.61
Jack Morris...3.71 (8th)

I think the main reason he gets overlooked is his career ERA of 3.90. He never led the league (much less came close to it) and make no bones about it...he gave up a ton of runs. However, his teams produced behind him and regardless of his ERA, he virtually always managed to stay below the league average.

Will Jack get into the Hall? Perhaps.

Does he DESERVE to? Absolutely…but it will take a while.

The Veterans Committee does like to look at players that got close (Morris appeared on a best 44% of the ballots last year) but not close enough. And some day, hopefully, the 80s won’t be as overlooked as they have been in the past.

BallHype: hype it up!


LargeBill said...

Let me get this straight, a couple days ago you said Bert Blyleven was not a Hall of Famer and now you are claiming a pitcher who gave up a lot more runs is a Hall of Famer??? I can assume you realize a pitcher's primary job is to keep the opponent from scoring, right? A pitcher faces batters and can either give up a hit, strike him out, walk the batter or have the batted ball fielded. There are other possibilities, but those are the most common ones. By those metrics (outs = good & guy reaching base/scoring = bad), Morris does not belong in the same conversation as Blyleven.

Don't get me wrong. Morris was a good pitcher for more than a decade. Blyleven was a very good to great pitcher for two decades. I can see someone who envisions a tiny HoF being against both men getting elected. I can see someone who has followed the game and has reviewed the record book voting for Bert and not Jack. I can see someone with a huge personal HoF voting for both. I can not for the life of me understand anyone voting for Jack and simultaneously saying a much better pitcher is unworthy. Ridiculous.

I watched both guys play. Both had some great moments. However, the overall careers are not comparable.

Jesus Melendez said...

With all due respect, Bill...I never once compared Morris to Blyleven.

But, since you brought it up, I am throwing some support behind Morris based on the quality of his peak...which was a lengthy one. Blyleven, while pretty good, had a pretty scattered career, if you ask me.

Blyleven never dominated or intimidated (as I feel Morris did), he wasn't an ace (as Morris was) and he just didn't have the consistency Morris did.

Now, that aside, Blyleven compiled a pretty good career. Unfortunately, and this is where I am basing my opinion on Morris...he was never among the top tier for an extended period of time a la Jack.

Follow me on this one, please.

The case for Ryne Sandberg was that he was the best second baseman during the time in which he played.


Can you tell me that during the span of Morris' career...he wasn't one of the elite?

Don't tell me who was better, worse or what have you...yes or no. Was Morris among the elite pitchers during the years in which he toed the rubber?

LargeBill said...

"Was Morris among the elite pitchers during the years in which he toed the rubber?"

He was good. He was probably the best the Tigers had for most of that period. I would have been glad to have him on my team since he was an innings eater which does help the bullpen. However, he was not considered one of the best pitchers in baseball at any time unless my memory is failing me. He is essentially indistinguishable from a host of pitchers from that period. Don't get me wrong. I like Jack Morris, I just don't understand why he is still on the ballot and people are getting on his bandwagon. I probably should not have compared him to Blyleven since it isn't fair. Dennis Martinez is the pitcher most comparable to Morris and he fell off the ballot after one election where he got all of 16 votes. He pitched more innings with a lower ERA and had a perfect game. El Presidente even had a cool nickname.

Johnstone said...

A few things:

1. You use Morris' wins to support his case for The Hall, yet claim that Bert Blyleven's 287 are not enough. Curious.

2. You also say that Jack Morris was one of the best pitchers of the 80s. Do yourself a favor and compare Morris and Blyleven's numbers. They are remarkably similar.

3. I know that you didn't compare the two pitchers, but you need to be consistent in your reasoning between both. You can't use 254 wins for one pitcher a reason for induction, and then use 287 wins as a reason to NOT get in.

4. Using consecutive opening day starts as a reason is just silly.

5. So is the "Ace of three World Series teams" argument. Morris wasn't the best pitcher on the 1992 Jays, and he wouldn't have been the "Ace" of the 1993 team, when he had an ERA that was north of 6.00.

6. Back to your argument against Blyleven - you asked how many Cy Youngs he won, and how many times he lead the league in ERA, wins, winning percentage.

Well, Morris led the league in wins twice, never led the league in winning percentage or ERA, and he's never won a Cy Young.

So again, although you didn't state any comparison between the two, your reasoning between those two (and others) is remarkably inconsistent.

Anonymous said...

While both have multiple WSrings, Blyleven is ahead of Morris because he shows-up on 2 all-time lists.However neither can equal the model HofF pitchers like TomSeaver,who is a 300GW & won 3 CyYoungAwards.