Jack Morris, Hall of Famer

I really may be done with the Hall of Fame.

It used to be one of my favorite aspects of baseball:  Comparing generations, was my guy better than your guy, etc. are all great baseball discussions that we’ve all enjoyed.  It’s one of the parts of baseball that helps bridge generations, not just about individual players, but the game itself and us personally.

I also find this is another aspect of baseball that makes it different (better?) than other sports:

Nobody of sound mind would say that Sammy Baugh was a better QB than Aaron Rodgers.  Go on, tell me how Bob Cousy is better than Stephen Curry.

Ridiculous, right?

Well in baseball, no one has a problem saying that Ted Williams was better than Barry Bonds or that Willie Mays was better than Ken Griffey Jr.  And they might be right.

That’s what makes Hall of Fame discussions so cool in baseball.

But I might be done.  I was done with the Grammy’s when Milli Vanilli won best new artist.  I was done with the Oscars when Forrest Gump won best picture over Pulp Fiction AND Shawshank Redemption, and that was after giving them a 2nd chance after the Dances with Wolves over Goodfellas debacle.

I thought I might be done when Bud Selig got in.  The guy canceled the World Series because the Yankees wouldn’t share their money with him.  I’ll pause while you re-read that last sentence.

But Jack Morris’ going into the Hall may be my tipping point.  There is just no way that a reasonable person with just a little information can conclude that Jack Morris is a Hall of Fame pitcher.

I don’t really like to have to say this, but I’ve come to learn that when you take a dissenting opinion, people feel slighted.  It isn’t a criticism to say that Jack Morris had a very good career, was the best player in the best single game I ever saw, and seems like a straight forward, unpretentious guy in interviews.

But he is not a Hall of Famer.  Not.  Close.  I don’t know why people feel that’s an insult – it isn’t.

I looked at enough numbers in 5 minutes on Baseball Reference that gave me enough information to write a term paper about the topic.  But for brevity’s sake, let’s go with bullet points.  Consider:

  • There are 46 pitchers who are not in the Hall of Fame with more career WAR.
  • There are 125 pitchers who are not in the Hall of Fame with a better career ERA+.
  • What about his clutch, or post season performances, you say?  “Clutch” is a myth, and the post season is a small sample size.  But if you don’t agree with me on that, Morris’ post season numbers were very close to his regular season numbers.  And David Cone, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina and Orel Hershiser were all better pitchers than Morris in the regular season AND the post season.  (Full disclosure: Those were the first four pitchers of whom I thought.  I could’ve kept going and given more examples of better pitchers who were also more “clutch” who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.)
  • “But he won a lot of games because he pitched “to the score” – his other stats would be better otherwise.”  This is a myth.  In over half his career starts he either gave up the lead or surrendered one.  (Thanks to Joe Sheehan for the background and leg work there.)
  • You’re old school and like “wins” and durability?  Cool.  Innings pitched is factored into the WAR score, but Jim Kaat and Tommy John both threw more innings and have more wins and neither are in the Hall.  The number of contemporaries with similar innings counts who were better pitchers than Morris who are outside the Hall is too long to list here.  But I’ll mention Dennis Martinez, Frank Tanana, Rick Reuschel, and Jerry Koosman for starters.
  • Morris career WAR and ERA+: 43.8, 105.  Javier Vazquez career WAR and ERA+: 43.3, 105.
  • And my very unscientific “eye test” says without checking online for memory’s sake, I can think of a dozen pitchers between ’83-’85 (when I played about 7 million games of Strat-O-Matic) who I’d rather start a game for me.

Again, not a knock to say “good pitcher, very good career” and leave it at that.

But leave it at that, because a Hall of Famer he ain’t.

Again, if you aren’t done with the Hall, check out Jay Jaffe’s book, ““The Cooperstown Casebook”” – it’s the best I’ve ever read on the subject.


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