Jack Morris: Why He Isn’t a Hall of Famer

Morris1Entering his final year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, Jack Morris appears to be gaining more support for an induction into Cooperstown. Since he first became eligible, these are his ballot percentages:

2000: BBWAA (22.2%)
2001: BBWAA (19.6%)
2002: BBWAA (20.6%)
2003: BBWAA (22.8%)
2004: BBWAA (26.3%)
2005: BBWAA (33.3%)
2006: BBWAA (41.2%)
2007: BBWAA (37.1%)
2008: BBWAA (42.9%)
2009: BBWAA (44.0%)
2010: BBWAA (52.3%)
2011: BBWAA (53.5%)
2012: BBWAA (66.7%)
2013: BBWAA (67.7%)

Morris2It is quite interesting to see how a specific player can be considered a non-Hall of Famer for 14 years and then earn the vote due to their time of eligibility running out. When you consider that in his worst season for earning votes, two players were elected (2001, Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield), it is hard to understand why he isn’t in yet, as there hasn’t always been a backlog of talent waiting to get in. What makes him a Hall of Famer in 2014? Nothing, just like his previous seasons, and it seems even more asinine to give him a vote with the talent existing on the ballot, new and old, who are more worthy of consideration.

Jack Morris ranks 50th in innings pitched (3,824), 32nd in strikeouts (2,478), 19th in walks allowed (1,390), and 43rd in wins (254) in the history of baseball, but does ranking within the top 50 in a single statistic make someone worthy of legitimate Hall of Fame consideration? Adam Dunn currently ranks 39th in career home runs (440) and 51st in career walks (1,246), and he will likely continue to climb the ranks due to being just 34 years old in 2014. Longevity creates numbers, so how do can you separate longevity from greatness?

When comparing Jack Morris to other pitchers from his generation, it is fairly evident that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame:

Jack Morris

W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
254 186 .577 3.90 549 527 175 28 3824.0 3567 1815 1657 389 1390 2478 105 1.296 8.4 3.3 5.8 1.78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2014.

Bert Blyleven (Hall of Fame 2011)

W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
287 250 .534 3.31 692 685 242 60 4970.0 4632 2029 1830 430 1322 3701 118 1.198 8.4 2.4 6.7 2.80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2014.

Dennis Martinez (lasted one year on the ballot)

W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
245 193 .559 3.70 692 562 122 30 3999.2 3897 1835 1643 372 1165 2149 106 1.266 8.8 2.6 4.8 1.84
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2014.

Dave Stieb (Lasted one season on the ballot, production and longevity is questionable)

W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
176 137 .562 3.44 443 412 103 30 2895.1 2572 1225 1106 225 1034 1669 122 1.245 8.0 3.2 5.2 1.61
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2014.

Tommy John (Lasted 15 years on the ballot earning a high of 31.7 percent in his final year of eligibility)

W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
288 231 .555 3.34 760 700 162 46 4710.1 4783 2017 1749 302 1259 2245 111 1.283 9.1 2.4 4.3 1.78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2014.

So what is it that separates Jack Morris from other pitchers from his era?
He certainly doesn’t have the resume that Bert Blyleven brings to a Hall of Fame argument, and if anyone argues the 300-win plateau…the win is dead and the teams that Blyleven pitched for were atrocious (his teams made the postseason in just three of his 22 seasons, and he was 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 47.1 postseason innings). Speaking of postseason success…

Isn’t that one of the primary arguments in favor of Jack Morris?

Morris: 7-4, 3.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 92.1 innings (13 games), 64:32 K:BB

Blyleven: 5-1, 2.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 47.1 innings (8 games), 36:8 K:BB

Martinez: 2-2, 3.32 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 43.1 innings (12 games), 18:12 K:BB

Stieb: 1-3, 4.26 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 31.2 innings (5 games), 28:16 K:BB

John: 6-3, 2.65 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 88.1 innings (14 games), 48:24 K:BB

Considering how closely related Morris’ overall numbers are to Dennis Martinez, what separates him from being a non-Hall of Fame talent is the seven postseason wins, but why wasn’t Tommy John’s postseason success enough to warrant his Hall of Fame worthiness when his overall numbers trump Morris?

MadduxGlavineAdd in the fact that Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling are on the current ballot, and it doesn’t seem reasonable for anyone with a right mind to consider using one of their ten votes for Jack Morris, and that’s before you count Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, and so many other strong offensive performers who have a Hall of Fame argument.

Jack Morris was a very good pitcher, but pitching to the score, winning a lot of games, and winning seven postseason games doesn’t warrant Hall of Fame consideration. Dave Stewart won 10 postseason games and had a four year stretch of dominance that could rival that of any Hall of Fame pitcher (84-45, 3.20 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), and he was on the Hall of Fame ballot for all of two seasons. Being very good isn’t good enough for the Hall of Fame, and with greatness all around him on the current ballot, Morris doesn’t deserve the vote.

With so much subjectivity within the vote, the voting system for the Hall of Fame is broken. Personal vendettas have taken the place of valid arguments, and as players continue to gain votes from year to year without playing and improving their resumes, the voting process becomes more and more laughable. Jack Morris wasn’t a Hall of Famer 15 years ago and he isn’t today. Better players have been overlooked over the same time periods that Morris has been considered for enshrinement, and better players deserve the vote this year.

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4 Comments

I completely agree. Morris isn’t even remotely of HOF caliber.

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When you have to use excuses of high ERA’s that “he pitched to the score”, it screams of desperation. I always thought of Jack Morris as a poor man’s Don Sutton. Didn’t have that all out Cy Young caliber season to separate himself. Could count on him getting 220+ innings with about 15-17 wins a year. A great career, but not a Hall of Fame career.

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I’m glad you’ve thought of him as a poor man’s Don Sutton…is Madison Bumgarner a poor man’s Clayton Kershaw? Does that make him a Hall of Fame talent, as well? Wins don’t matter to me, although 300 is a special number, and Morris’ top 7 seasons ranked 23rd among all players on the ballot this season (based on WAR). His supposed “greatness” wasn’t really all that great, as you can see here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/hof_2014.shtml

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