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Monday, May 28, 2007

Jack Morris

Eligible in 2000.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 28, 2007 at 12:18 PM | 114 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 28, 2007 at 12:21 PM (#2381149)
He was a very good pitcher, but I would take Stieb over him.
   2. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 28, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2381345)
If the hullaballoo over his reputation and his consistent, decent amount of HOF support are indicative, then he could be among the most overrated players of recent times.
   3. Dizzypaco Posted: May 29, 2007 at 03:52 AM (#2382200)
This is to get a conversation going as much as anything, because there are some interesting things about Morris. I'm sure most people will agree wholeheartedly with Doc, and I don't completely disagree, but a few points:
1) Despite the fact that he won over 250 games, with an excellent winning percentage, and some absolute classic postseason performances, he is not in the Hall of Fame, which suggests there are a lot of level headed HOF voters out there.
2) Morris pitched at a time when there were amazingly few pitchers who were good year after year. Other than Stieb, which other starters of his time were better? Maybe Eckersly, but was his career as a starter better than Morris'? Who else am I forgetting?
3) Morris was a great innings eater - which I suppose doesn't mean much to many HOM voters, but I think had a lot of value given the context. Putting up solid ERAs in a lot of innings led to a lot of wins.
4) I have no idea if this is true, but is it possible that Morris was particulary efficient - that is, his won loss record is not simply explained by his ERA+ and run support? Just asking.
5) I'd take his career over Sutter, not that this is a good reason to vote for him for anything other than for most overrated 1970's/1980's pitcher by HOF voters.

All of that said, I would not vote for Morris for either Hall, and I agree he was overrated by many writers. His case is just a little more complex than it appears at first glance, IMO.
   4. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 29, 2007 at 05:05 AM (#2382245)
2) Morris pitched at a time when there were amazingly few pitchers who were good year after year. Other than Stieb, which other starters of his time were better? Maybe Eckersly, but was his career as a starter better than Morris'? Who else am I forgetting?

Clemens?

Morris is what he is. An above average pitcher who pitched for a long time. Valuable for sure, but not really close to being HOF or HOM quality. He's in my top 75 or so, about equal to Bobo Newsom.
   5. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 29, 2007 at 05:09 AM (#2382248)
Or, now that I look, about equal to Charlie Hough, who's also eligible this year.
   6. Suff Posted: May 29, 2007 at 01:20 PM (#2382348)
When Posnanski did the AL HOF prediction blog, I went through (before Pos got to it) and looked at the NL. There's another Morris who pitches for San Francisco who could end up with similar qualifications as Jack. If he ages like Jack (not particularly gracefully, but with a couple of good seasons), he could end up with about 220 wins, an ERA+ around the 105-110 range, and a winning % in the .570s. Obviously no one thinks of Matt Morris as a potential Hall of Famer, but he doesn't have to be anywhere close to spectacular in the next 7-8 years to put up Jack Morris-type numbers for his career.
   7. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: May 29, 2007 at 01:26 PM (#2382356)
What if Matt pitches a 10 inning shutout in Game 7 of the World Series?
   8. Suff Posted: May 29, 2007 at 01:33 PM (#2382367)
Then they might ignore his otherwise mediocre postseason pitching career and call him the great big game pitcher of our time, I suppose.
   9. Suff Posted: May 29, 2007 at 01:45 PM (#2382372)
2) Morris pitched at a time when there were amazingly few pitchers who were good year after year. Other than Stieb, which other starters of his time were better? Maybe Eckersly, but was his career as a starter better than Morris'? Who else am I forgetting?

It seems like there were a lot of great pitchers finishing up their careers at that time (Seaver, Carlton, other 300-game winners) and a lot of them getting started (Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Glavine).

As for better during that time, Nolan Ryan's career covered all of Morris's, though I'm not sure who was better over that time. Maybe Fernando Valenzuela, if you like the few great years over the longer consistency.

Just throwing out names:
Orel Hershiser? Dwight Gooden? (Those guys got started late)
Bob Welch?
Bert Blyleven?
   10. TomH Posted: May 29, 2007 at 02:11 PM (#2382385)
What if Lonnie Smith knows how to run the bases and the Braves win Game 7 of the World Series? Jack Morris' post-season record falls from 'superhero' to a somewhat tarnished 6-5.
   11. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 29, 2007 at 02:40 PM (#2382426)
As for better during that time, Nolan Ryan's career covered all of Morris's, though I'm not sure who was better over that time.


Exclude Morris's first two years (when he only started 13 total games) and his last (when he wasn't particularly good, and Ryan was out of the league), and Ryan was significantly better by ERA+ in about 750 fewer innings.
   12. DL from MN Posted: May 29, 2007 at 02:47 PM (#2382441)
Jack Morris v. Dennis Martinez is a good compare and contrast. Jack Morris is the Catfish Hunter of the 1980s and neither of them should be in.
   13. Daryn Posted: May 29, 2007 at 03:32 PM (#2382487)
Then they might ignore his otherwise mediocre postseason pitching career and call him the great big game pitcher of our time, I suppose.

Through 1991, he was 7-1 in the postseason and was, IMO, the most valuable player in two successful World Series. Certainly the most valuable pitcher in both Series. What other pitcher has had that kind of postseason impact and also had a substantial career and is not in the HoM?

He probably won't make my ballot because I don't give a ton of weight to the postseason, but for any voter who does give significant wieght to the postseason, this guy is worth looking at very closely.

It is also worth noting that he was a 20 game winner on a third World Series winner.
   14. DanG Posted: May 29, 2007 at 03:33 PM (#2382490)
This is a good time to resurrect a "Baseball Digest" style article I wrote when he was first BBWAA eligible after the 1999 season.

You Don't Know Jack: Morris for the Hall of Fame

This year, Jack Morris debuts on the hall of fame ballot. He will not be a first-year electee. People are so imbued with a "you need 300 wins" mentality that Jack may have a hard time getting mentioned on 5% of the ballots casts. That would be a crime because the doors of the Hall would be forever barred to Morris. (Candidates need a minimum of 5% to continue on the ballot.) In this article, you will get to know Jack and see that he is up to Hall standards.
Let's start with arguments against Morris. The first thing you hear is "he only won 254 games". Only 254 wins?! No active pitcher has had 250 wins since Jack retired over five years ago. And this is actually rather silly because 254 happens to be the median number of wins among starting pitchers in the Hall of fame. That's right. Of the 57 starting pitchers now enshrined, #29 is Red Faber with exactly 254 wins.
The fact is, over time a line has been drawn, but not at 300. Only the elite pitchers, the top third in the Hall, have 300 wins. The hall of fame line is at 250 wins. Every pitcher with 250 wins since the modern pitching distance was established in 1893 is in the hall of fame--except for Morris and three others on the ballot with him (Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat). Everyone else, even those with weak W-L pcts (Rixey .515, Lyons .531), has been put in eventually.
Then you hear, "Wait, those three other guys all have more wins than Morris, so they're better and they go in before Jack." Well, maybe, but that has nothing to do with the issue of whether Morris deserves the hall of fame or not. A player's worth should be judged on its own merits, not set against whoever happens to be on the ballot with him. Unfortunately, many voters fall into this trap. A good example is Luis Tiant's voting support.
Tiant, a 229-game winner, received 132 votes his first year on the ballot. The next year he got only 47. Wow, he must have had a bad year! Actually, it had nothing to do with whether he deserved the Hall or not, it was the competition. In 1988, the voters measured Luis against Jim Bunning and Mickey Lolich; in '89, his support waned as Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins entered the ballot.
So, yeah, John and Blyleven should be elected ahead of Morris, but so what? If they are all qualified for the Hall (which they are) then they should all get a vote. Few voters fill in all ten slots on their ballot anyway, so there is room for writing down three or more pitchers on most ballots.
Another knock against Jack is that he had only three 20-win years. Mainly, this is because it was a much more difficult feat to win 20 in Morris' era than in the previous one. In the fifteen years that Morris was a regular starter (25 GS or 150 IP), 1979 to 1993, there were 62 20-game winners (4 per year). This is less than half as many as the previous fifteen years: from 1964 to 1978, there were 139 20-game winners (9 per year).
Anyway, there are already 14 starters in the Hall with three or fewer 20-win years. Ten of these have fewer career wins than Jack (Bender, Bunning, Drysdale, Ford, Haines, Hoyt, Koufax, Marquard, Pennock and Vance).
Another strike against Morris is he never won a Cy Young award. Again, many hall of fame pitchers never did. Relying partly on retroactive surveys, there are at least 10 pitchers in the Hall who were never their league's top pitcher (Haines, Bender, Pennock, Marichal, Willis, Lyons, Niekro, Sutton, Ryan and Plank); five of these had fewer career wins than Jack.
Also, if you compare his 1986 season to many Cy Young winners of that era you can see that it was a Cy Young-type year.
W-L    ERA    IP    CG    SO
Morris    1986    21
-8    3.27    267    15    223
Perry    1978    21
-6    2.73    261    5    154
Flanagan    1979    23
-9    3.08    266    16    190
Vuckovich    1982    18
-6    3.34    224    9    105
Hoyt    1983    24
-10    3.66    261    11    148
Denny    1983    19
-6    2.37    243    7    139
Saberhagen    1985    20
-6    2.87    236    10    158
Clemens    1987    20
-9    2.97    282    18    256
Drabek    1990    22
-6    2.76    231    9    131
Glavine    1991    20
-11    2.55    247    9    192
Clemens    1991    18
-10    2.62    271    13    241
McDowell    1993    22
-10    3.37    257    10    158 

The average season among these eleven Cy Young pitchers is 21-8, 2.94 ERA, 253 IP, 11 CG, 170 SO. There are certainly some years where Morris' season could have won the award.
The most glaring weakness in Jack's credentials is his lifetime ERA. At 3.90 it his higher than any pitcher in the Hall. There are several points to note about this:
• Some of this was the manager. Sparky would leave Jack in to be pummeled even if he didn't have his good stuff that day, just because he was his workhorse and his ace.
• Morris and Blyleven are the first serious Hall candidates to pitch over 2750 innings in a DH league. Without the DH, Jack's ERA would be under 3.50.
• The league's ERA during Jack's career was 4.09. So, although 3.90 isn't great, it's easily better than average.
• When the veterans committee finally stops messing around and elects Wes Ferrell, Morris will not have the highest ERA in the Hall. Ferrell was a six-time 20-game winner who compiled a 4.04 ERA in the heavy-hitting AL of the 30's.
• Jack was hit hard at the end of his career. Before his last two years, his ERA was 3.73. One hall of famer (Red Ruffing 3.80) has a higher ERA than that.
Up to this point, we have seen that Morris' perceived weaknesses do not disqualify him from Hall consideration. What accomplishments does he have that support his election?
You often hear that Jack had the most wins in the 1980's, but it's more than that. Morris is baseball's winningest pitcher over the past quarter-century. From 1975 to 1999, the top winners were: Morris (254), Roger Clemens (247), Dennis Martinez (245), Nolan Ryan (233), Frank Tanana (224), Greg Maddux (221).
The significance of being the top winner of a generation is seen by the fact that the leading winner for every other 25-year period in baseball history is in the Hall. [I subsequently discovered that Jim Kaat led in wins 1953-77.] That's not really surprising and it demonstrates how Morris is truly qualified to join the ranks of the immortals.
There are other unique distinctions in Jack's resume. Morris was THE workhorse pitcher of his generation, completing the highest percentage of his career starts. From 1975 to 1999, the leaders in complete game percentage (minimum 300 GS) were: Morris (33.2%), Steve Rogers (32.8%), Blyleven (32.5%), Steve Carlton (29.5%), Ron Guidry (29.4%), Mike Torrez (28.2%).
Jack also has the highest career won-lost percentage among long-career pitchers not in the hall of fame. Among the 85 retired pitchers with 3250 IP or 375 decisions since the modern pitching distance was established in 1893, the leaders in WL Pct who are not in the Hall are: Morris (.577), Tiant (.571), Vida Blue (.565), Dennis Martinez (.559), Billy Pierce (.555), Tommy John (.555).
Seven hall of famers have shorter careers and lower percentages than Jack: Hunter, Haines, Hoyt, Drysdale, Bunning, Waddell and Marquard. Two others (Newhouser and Vance) have much shorter careers and only slightly higher percentages. Three others (Lyons, Faber, and Willis) have much lower percentages and only slightly longer careers.
Lastly, we cannot forget Morris' reputation as perhaps the leading big game pitcher of his generation. His two complete game victories in the 1984 World Series led the Tigers to the championship. A 2-0 mark in the 1991 Series, including a 10-inning shutout in game seven, earned him the Series MVP.
Hopefully, it has been demonstrated that Jack Morris' achievements outweigh his unimpressive ERA. Unfortunately, John and Blyleven are blocking the door to the Hall and as long as they are on the ballot Jack will get lagging support. While there is no chance that Morris will be a first-ballot electee to the Hall (and probably will not be elected by the writers at all), he deserves enough support to draw the attention of the veterans committee twenty or thirty years from now.
   15. DL from MN Posted: May 29, 2007 at 03:54 PM (#2382512)
"Anyway, there are already 14 starters in the Hall with three or fewer 20-win years. Ten of these have fewer career wins than Jack (Bender, Bunning, Drysdale, Ford, Haines, Hoyt, Koufax, Marquard, Pennock and Vance)."

Bender, Haines, Hoyt, Marquard, Pennock and Vance were mistakes. The others all pitched in the 1950s. If you can argue that the 1950s parallel the 1980s be my guest.

"The league's ERA during Jack's career was 4.09. So, although 3.90 isn't great, it's easily better than average."

There's a whole lot of 'better than average' pitchers I have in line ahead of Black Jack, though Morris does make the consideration set. I'll have to make sure I add some postseason credit but right now he and Charlie Hough are comparable.
   16. OCF Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2382524)
RA+ equivalent records:

Jack Morris: 226-199 with a big years score of 9. Best 6 years (non-consecutive): 18-11, 18-11, 18-12, 19-13, 14-8, 14-8.

Charlie Hough: 219-203 with a big years score of 7. Best 6 years (non-consecutive): 18-10, 17-11, 10-6, 15-13, 15-14, 16-16.

Frank Viola: 177-138 with a big years score of 26. Best 6 years (non-consecutive): 20-8, 19-9, 18-11, 18-10, 16-11, 13-7.

John Candelaria: 160-121 with a big years score of 11. Best 6 years (non-consecutive): 19-7, 12-7, 13-9, 13-10, 13-11, 12-9.

Morris, Hough, and Viola had IP/decision in the 8.7-8.8 range which is completely normal - this even with Hough's extensive relief history. Candelaria was at 8.45.

At his peak, Viola was better than Morris, but his career didn't last as long.

I should include analyses of Hershiser, Saberhagen, Stewart, and Gooden, but I haven't done those yet.
   17. Paul Wendt Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:22 PM (#2382546)
The Hall of Merit threshold is generally higher because it honors more players for 19th century or extra-mlb achievements. 19c pitchers fare better than fielders at the The Hall of Fame, so what comes out in the wash?

Regarding the HOF, what about the other pitchers who are not in? Older than Blyleven, I mean. When the veterans honored Joss and Willis, within my memory, were there others more deserving? Are there two Pennock and Hoyt in the Hall for every Shocker outside it (whom this group prefers)? Or vice versa?
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:24 PM (#2382550)
When Posnanski did the AL HOF prediction blog, I went through (before Pos got to it) and looked at the NL. There's another Morris who pitches for San Francisco who could end up with similar qualifications as Jack. If he ages like Jack (not particularly gracefully, but with a couple of good seasons), he could end up with about 220 wins, an ERA+ around the 105-110 range, and a winning % in the .570s. Obviously no one thinks of Matt Morris as a potential Hall of Famer, but he doesn't have to be anywhere close to spectacular in the next 7-8 years to put up Jack Morris-type numbers for his career.

This is ludicrous. Matt Morris has never been the league's win leader over the course of an arbitrary amount of time like Jack has.
   19. Paul Wendt Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:26 PM (#2382551)
I should include analyses of Hershiser, Saberhagen, Stewart, and Gooden, but I haven't done those yet.

And Martinez. Isn't he a better comp for Morris?
I think of them as good contemporary comps, although the trough in El Presidente's career is worthy of Lave Cross or Jake Beckley (I need a pitcher) and the trough in Black Jack's career is at the end.
   20. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:39 PM (#2382565)
Jack Morris pitched for the Cleveland Indians?
Colour me forgetful!
   21. DanG Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:40 PM (#2382568)
DL from MN:

I know, to paraphrase Bill James, that the evidence that Jack Morris is a hall of famer cannot be found in the statistics. Unless you're a beat writer or the average sportstalk host, of course. The article is making a Hall of Fame case for Jack to a sabermetrically-challenged audience, ie, Joe Fan.

So, sure, the arguments presented use statistics as a drunk uses a lamp post: for support rather than illumination. However, it's tricky to construct a counter argument without resorting to "advanced" metrics. How can we bring Joe Fan a little bit of reality in regards to Morris' value?
   22. Suff Posted: May 29, 2007 at 04:46 PM (#2382575)
Through 1991, he was 7-1 in the postseason and was, IMO, the most valuable player in two successful World Series. Certainly the most valuable pitcher in both Series. What other pitcher has had that kind of postseason impact and also had a substantial career and is not in the HoM?

Orel Hershiser probably won't make it, but has a similar resume (although the Indians lost in '95).

Morris was great in '84, horrible in '87, great in '91 WS, good in '91 LCS, and horrible in both the LCS and WS in '92.

One thing that's strange is that Blyleven gets no credit that I ever hear for his postseason record, even though it was better than Morris', including beating Morris' Tigers in 1987.
   23. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 29, 2007 at 05:33 PM (#2382619)
Here are Gray Ink/Hall of Fame Montior comparisons with some of the pitchers mentioned:

Morris.....193/122.5
Martinez...138/67
Stieb......142/55.5
Hershiser..129/90.5
Stewart....86/76
Gooden....139/88.5
   24. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2007 at 05:56 PM (#2382646)
I personally thought Jack Morris shoulda been the MVP in 1984. He kinda gave the Tigers that swagger early on, and there was that no-hitter. To some degree that's because there's no great MVP candidate that year, so I figure like the actual voters did, settle for one Tiger or another, and I woulda settled on Jack. That wouldn't change his case here much, but it probably woulda changed his HoF case.
   25. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 29, 2007 at 06:13 PM (#2382658)
Since Morris has a marginal case to get in, it would be easier to figure out if he should be in by knowing who the worst starting pitchers that are/should be in the Hall of Merit, and comparing him to them.
   26. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 29, 2007 at 06:15 PM (#2382660)
I would disagree that Dazzy Vance was a HOF mistake. I supported his eventually successful HOM campaign a few decades back. Very nice peak.
   27. The District Attorney Posted: May 29, 2007 at 06:28 PM (#2382674)
Jack Morris pitched for the Cleveland Indians? Colour me forgetful!
I seem to remember that he jumped the Indians in order to tend his farm. Very old school. I don't remember the exact details of this.

Morris is basically a "wins" candidate, but he had a 16-win season with a 99 ERA+; 17 with a 101; 19 with a 109; 15 with a 97; 15 with an 88; and 21 with a 102. If you were to zero those seasons out, he would be a laughable candidate. You would have to come up with huge "pitch to the score" points to figure out a way that he should be in.
   28. DL from MN Posted: May 29, 2007 at 06:41 PM (#2382682)
You're right, forgot to delete Vance from the sentence.
   29. JPWF13 Posted: May 29, 2007 at 07:17 PM (#2382728)
So, sure, the arguments presented use statistics as a drunk uses a lamp post: for support rather than illumination. However, it's tricky to construct a counter argument without resorting to "advanced" metrics. How can we bring Joe Fan a little bit of reality in regards to Morris' value?


You're right- your post 14 does seem to be the way a pro Morris shill would pitch him to a non sabre voter type- and what amazes me is that Morris is not in the HOF

6 of his 10 BBREF comps are in the Hall and a 7th (Glavine) will be.
the 3 who are out- Dennis Martinez, Tiant and Finley all had less wins that Morris, and a lower winning pct.
Martinez and Morris had extremely similar careers- yet I don't think the casual fan/writer sees that- Morris won 20 three times, Martinez never won more than 16. Morris was sucessful in teh World Series- Dennis was not.

The fact that Morris' ERA is not impressive for a HOF prospect has seemingly made a greater impact than I thought it would. 3.90 is just not impressive- and the voters who were looking at Morris included a great many men who'd seen 1960s baseball first hand- an ERA over 3.00 made them uneasy, 3.90 was just too much to take.
The question I have is this- we've seen 12-13 years where an ERA of 3.90 means an ERA+ of 115-120 rather than Morris' 104- eventually voters may look at 3.90 and think of it the way a voter in the 1980s/90s looked at an ERA of 3.50- not necessarily a plus but no longer a huge negative.
   30. Daryn Posted: May 29, 2007 at 07:30 PM (#2382748)
Orel Hershiser probably won't make it, but has a similar resume (although the Indians lost in '95).


Yes, his postseason stats are very similar, but the heft of his career is not. I love that his 42.66 innings of 5 ER in the 1988 postseason was preceded by this:

Sep  5    9    4  0  0  1  8     
Sep 10    9    7  0  0  3  8     
Sep 14    9    6  0  0  2  8     
Sep 19    9    4  0  0  0  5     
Sep 23    9    5  0  0  2  2  
Sep 28    10   4  0  0  1  3 
   31. Suff Posted: May 29, 2007 at 08:00 PM (#2382775)
You wrote asking about someone who had similar postseason stats and a "substantial" career. I think Orel's career counts as "substantial," but not to the level of Morris's.
   32. Chris Fluit Posted: May 29, 2007 at 10:47 PM (#2382947)
Interesting article, DanG.

So much of the argument for Jack Morris as a Hall of Fame candidate is that he's the winning-est pitcher of the 1980s. It's almost as if it's a simple equation: winning-est pitcher of the '80s = Hall of Famer.

So much of the counter-argument is centered on disproving that equation. A big part of that is the issue of selective end-points. Morris debuted in 1977 and retired in 1994; he was well-positioned to be the winning-est pitcher of the '80s in that his career centered on that decade. Also, a lot of the great pitchers of all time retired part-way through the decade (such as Carlton, Jenkins, Niekro, Palmer, Perry and Seaver who all retired between 1983 and '88) while other great pitchers debuted part-way into the decade (such as Clemens, Glavine, Johnson, Maddux, Schilling and Smoltz who all debuted between 1984 and '88) so most of Morris' top competition didn't have the full decade in which to accumulate wins. Even some of Morris' lesser competition had less than the full decade to work with. Steve Rogers and Ron Guidry retired in 1985 and '88. Orel Hershiser and Dwight Gooden debuted in 1983 and '84. Therefore, Morris' accomplishment doesn't mean as much as it might have otherwise.

That argument is valid... up to a point. Being the winning-est pitcher of the '80s doesn't automatically turn Morris into Carlton or Seaver (the winning-est pitchers of the '70s with 178 each). It doesn't automatically make him the equal of Greg Maddux (the winning-est pitcher of the '90s with 176). So, in a sense, we've disproved the equation winning-est pitcher of the '80s = Hall of Famer.

But what happens when we look at other pitchers who were as equally well-positioned to be the winning-est pitcher of the '80s- those who debuted in the late '70s, pitched into the '90s and whose careers centered on the '80s? And what happens when we change the selectivity of the end-points?

First, pitchers who debuted in the late '70s and pitched into the '90s. In that group, we have 10 pitchers:
1975-1993: John Candelaria
1975-1998: Dennis Eckersley
1975-1992: Mike Flanagan
1976-1998: Dennis Martinez
1976-1994: Rick Sutcliffe
1977-1994: Jack Morris
1978-1995: Dave Stewart
1978-1994: Bob Welch
1979-1991: Mike Scott
1979-1998: Dave Stieb

We also have 1 pitcher from the '60s who pitched into the '90s, 4 pitchers from the early '70s who pitched into the '90s, 2 from the '70s who retired before '80s were done and 2 others who debuted early enough in the '80s that they could have led the decade in wins.
1966-1993: Nolan Ryan
1970-1992: Bert Blyleven
1970-1994: Charlie Hough
1972-1991: Rick Reuschel
1973-1993: Frank Tanana
1973-1985: Steve Rogers
1975-1988: Ron Guidry
1980-1997: Fernando Valenzuela
1982-1996: Frank Viola

All 10 of the pitchers on the first list had as much of a chance to be "the winning-est pitcher of the '80s" as Jack Morris. The 9 pitchers on the second list didn't have an equal chance, but they had a chance nonetheless. Yet, out of all of those who had a chance, Jack Morris was the one who got it done. He was the one who won the most games in the '80s.

It's not just that Jack Morris won more games during the decade of 1980-'89 than any of the others. Looking at his direct contemporaries on the first list, Morris simply won more games than any of the others period. His 254 career wins are the most of any pitcher on that list. Only 2 of those pitchers come within 50 wins of Morris (Bob Welch at 211) and only 1 within 10 (Dennis Martinez at 245). However, Dennis Martinez needed 5 more seasons, 143 more games and 35 more starts just to come within 9 wins of Morris.

Opening up to the second list, we have a stronger sampling of career wins. Both Ryan and Blyleven beat Morris, though they are a full generation ahead of Morris in the case of Ryan and half a generation in the case of Blyleven. Yet Morris still finishes 3rd. He beats out Hough who had 216 wins (but also 216 losses) and 7 more seasons in which to accumulate wins (though Hough was a reliever for many of them). He beats out Reuschel by a full 40 (254-214), even though they had roughly the same amount of chances (Reuschel has 1 more season, 8 more games and 2 more starts). The only one who comes close is Frank Tanana with 240. However, like Dennis Martinez, Tanana had many more chances: 3 more seasons, 89 more games and 89 more starts.

Jack Morris isn't just the winning-est pitcher of the '80s. He has the most career wins of any pitcher to debut in the 13 years from 1971 to 1983. He has more wins than any other pitcher that debuted within 5 years of his debut. If we expand outward, Morris falls from his perch, but only a little. Of pitchers who debuted in the 16 years from 1968 to 1983, only Blyleven went on to have more career wins. Of the pitchers who debuted in the 16 years from 1971 to 1986, only Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux have more wins than Jack Morris. He is simply the winning-est pitcher between Bert Blyleven and Roger Clemens.

Jack Morris isn't "the winning-est pitcher of the '80s" solely because of a unique opportunity (not when 9 others had a similar chance) or because of selective endpoints (not when we can widen the end-points out to 13 years instead of 10). That undercuts the criticisms of the equation "winning-est pitcher of the '80s = Hall of Famer." However, that only eliminates some of the criticisms. It doesn't actually prove the equation.

As DanG notes, there are some other pitchers with superior qualifications who are standing in Jack's way. Namely, Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat, who all have more career wins than Jack Morris does. But are they really in Morris' way? Or should they be? Kaat and John debuted in 1959 and '63 and pitched through the '60s and '70s in an era when it was much easier to accumulate wins. Blyleven debuted 7 years before Morris and also had the full decade of the '70s in which to win games. Their direct contemporaries are Carlton, Jenkins, Niekro, Palmer, Perry, Ryan, Seaver and Sutton. Morris is sometimes compared to those pitchers, and he falls short. But Morris isn't the one who should be compared to that list. John, Kaat and Blyleven should. Compared to their contemporaries, John, Kaat and Blyleven rank 7th, 8th and 10th in wins. Compared to his contemporaries, Morris ranks 1st. Now, there's more to pitching than career wins. Blyleven may be 8th in wins, but he's more likely the 6th best pitcher (after Seaver, Carlton, Niekro, Perry and Palmer) and better than 2 pitchers who have more wins than he does (Ryan and Sutton). But you can't say the same thing about Tommy John or Jim Kaat. They're at best the 10th and 11th pitchers behind the 8 mentioned as well as Fergie Jenkins. They're possibly even lower depending on where you place Luis Tiant and Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter (personally, I'd have both behind Tiant and ahead of Hunter). Morris may not be the best pitcher of the '80s- even though he's the winning-est- but he certainly ranks better than Kaat and John at 11th and 12th.

The only one of those pitchers who should be in Morris' way is Blyleven. But saying that Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than Morris does is not the same thing as saying Morris doesn't deserve to be there at all. That eliminates another obstacle to Morris' candidacy. There aren't 3 or 4 pitchers from the previous generation who deserve to be in more than Morris. There's just the one.

But does that mean Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame?

I'll try to tackle that question, and compare him to his contemporaries, in another post.
   33. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2007 at 11:28 PM (#2383053)
But does that mean Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame?


I'll get back to you about that when the guy who pitched for Toronto gets in.
   34. Michael Bass Posted: May 30, 2007 at 01:06 AM (#2383439)
I'm not voting for him either way, but the winningest pitcher of the 80s thing always made me wonder...

Winningest pitcher of the 80s is obviously a rigged endpoint, with pitchers who had their prime in the wrong set of years basically screwed. But winningest pitcher over a 10-year stretch at least seems like a strong qualification on the surface.

What other pitchers have the most wins over a 10-year consecutive period and are not HOM and/or HOF? If Morris is all alone in that list, maybe he's worth a second look. But I'm guessing there are more pitchers with consistent 10-year primes to top wins for that period that didn't have enough peak or career outside that prime to get in.
   35. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 30, 2007 at 01:35 AM (#2383548)
"2) Morris pitched at a time when there were amazingly few pitchers who were good year after year. Other than Stieb, which other starters of his time were better? Maybe Eckersly, but was his career as a starter better than Morris'? Who else am I forgetting?"


Rick Reuschel

:-)

Seriously - I've got Morris down in the low 90s among eligibles, in the same class with Jim Kaat, Ron Guidry, Hippo Vaughn, Lefty Gomez, Tom Zachary, Camilo Pasqual and Mickey Lolich.

All good pitchers. None HoMers. None close. For me, the most comparable pitcher is Kaat. Morris was slightly better, Kaat has about 2 extra seasons worth of filler (4518.3 tIP to 4118.0), but they are basically the same guy, when adjusted for era. Similar peaks too.
   36. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 01:37 AM (#2383559)
But I'm guessing there are more pitchers with consistent 10-year primes to top wins for that period that didn't have enough peak or career outside that prime to get in.


I think Burleigh Grimes had the most wins of the Twenties. Of course, I have him on my ballot (not for that fact).
   37. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 01:53 AM (#2383670)
21 significant pitchers who debuted within 7 years of Morris (1970-1984)
The list includes Morris himself, but not Bert Blyleven (debut 1970) who we've already determined is better than Morris or Roger Clemens (debut 1984) who is indisputably better than Morris. The question isn't whether or not Morris is better than those two pitchers, but whether he is the best pitcher between Blyleven and Clemens. He is certainly the winning-est.

1970-1994: Charlie Hough
1972-1991: Rick Reuschel
1973-1993: Frank Tanana
1973-1985: Steve Rogers
1975-1988: Ron Guidry
1975-1993: John Candelaria
1975-1998: Dennis Eckersley
1975-1992: Mike Flanagan
1976-1998: Dennis Martinez
1976-1994: Rick Sutcliffe
1977-1994: Jack Morris
1978-1995: Dave Stewart
1978-1994: Bob Welch
1979-1991: Mike Scott
1979-1998: Dave Stieb
1980-1997: Fernando Valenzuela
1982-1996: Frank Viola
1983-2000: Orel Hershiser
1984-1998: Jimmy Key
1984-1999: Mark Langston
1984-2000: Dwight Gooden
1984-2001: Bret Saberhagen

All 21 of these pitchers have fewer wins than Morris. But we all know that wins are an overrated statistic. Which of these pitchers were actually better than Morris? And which were worse?

This first grouping features pitchers who have a lower ERA+ or a higher ERA than Morris. By way of comparison, Morris is at 105 and 3.90 (compared to league ERA of 4.08).
Mike Flanagan, 100 and 3.90 (to 3.90)
Rick Sutcliffe, 97 and 4.08 (to 3.97)
Dave Stewart, 100 and 3.95 (to 3.94)
Mike Scott, 100 and 3.54 (to 3.55)
Fernando Valenzuela, 103 and 3.54 (to. 3.66)
All of the pitchers in this group also have fewer Ks, fewer IP, and- with the exception of Scott who only pitched 13 seasons- a higher WHIP than Morris. I think Morris is clearly better than all of the pitchers in this grouping.

The next group includes pitchers with a similar ERA+ or ERA or Morris.
Charlie Hough, 106 and 3.75 (to 3.98)
Frank Tanana, 106 and 3.66 (to 3.87)
Dennis Martinez, 106 and 3.70 (to 3.92)
Bob Welch, 106 and 3.47 (to 3.68)
Mark Langston, 108 and 3.97 (to 4.28)
This group superficially resembles Jack Morris. But are they really Morris' equals? Langston is a great strikeout pitcher, nearly equaling Morris' career total. However, Langston has 100 less games started, 900 fewer IP and a higher WHIP as well as a higher ERA. He doesn't exactly withstand close scrutiny. Welch is also well behind Morris in career bulk, with 43 fewer games, 65 fewer starts, 732 fewer IP and 500 fewer K. The small advantage of 1 point in OPS+ and .02 in WHIP aren't enough to make up that difference.

Then there's Charlie Hough. Hough is close in IP (only 23 less) and in Ks (116). However, Hough also has a slightly higher WHIP (by .01). More importantly, Hough had 7 more seasons than Morris in which to pile up career numbers but was unable to do so because he spent 8 and a half seasons as a reliever. Those 7 extra seasons only give Hough 8 more WS and 5.1 more WARP than Morris. Comparing their seasons as starters, Morris beats Hough in ERA+ in their best season, they tie in the second-best season and then Morris beats Hough out every season from 3 to 12, before Hough picks up his lone victory in season 13. Morris then wins season 14 as well. When it comes to IP, K, ERA+ and WHIP, Hough looks like a good comparison for Morris. But a closer look at the numbers shows that Hough is nowhere close.

Dennis Martinez has similar problems. He started a greater percentage of his games than Hough, but he still came out of the bullpen 130 times (82 not including his final season as a reliever). Plus, he played for five more seasons than Morris did but he could still only squeeze out 175 more IP with 9 fewer Wins and 329 fewer strikeouts. I don't think that those extra seasons or that 1 point of OPS+ really make either Hough or Martinez the equals of Morris. To me, that's like claiming Tommy John and Jimmy Kaat are the equals of Blyleven because they have similar amounts of wins (John-288, Blyleven-287, Kaat-284) despite having 3 and 4 more years in which to accumulate stats. Just as Blyleven is clearly superior to Kaat and John, Morris is clearly superior to Hough and Martinez.

That leaves Frank Tanana from this group.

Next, there's a group of light career pitchers. They have a better ERA+ than Morris, but they each pitched in less than 400 games.
Ron Guidry, 368 games, 323 starts
Bret Saberhagen, 399 games, 371 starts
Steve Rogers, 399 games, 393 starts
With 549 career games and 527 starts, Morris has a huge lead on these pitchers in those categories. It should be enough to negate their leads in career ERA+ (126 for Saberhagen, 120 for Guidry, 116 for Rogers). This is especially true for Rogers who can't withstand a season-by-season comparison. Rogers has the better ERA+ in the first two seasons compared to Morris, but Morris beats him in season 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, ties him in 9 and beats him again in 10.

There's no question that both Guidry and Saberhagen have a better peak than Morris. Guidry beats Morris in seasons 1-4, Morris takes over in seasons 5-7, then Guidry again in 8-10 before Morris takes season 11 and then six more seasons that Guidry doesn't have. But is Guidry's peak advantage worth 200 starts and nearly 1,500 IP? I don't think so. Not when the season-to-season comparison shows Morris beating Guidry in IP in every single year by 20, 8, 16, 30, 35, 31, 39, 55, 48, 113 and 118 before Guidry runs out of full seasons. That's 21.8 IP for the top five seasons and 39.5 for the top ten.

The story with Saberhagen is even more lop-sided, in opposite directions for each category. Saberhagen has the full lead in ERA+ beating Morris every single year. Morris again has the full lead in IP, beating Saberhagen every single year this time by differences of 31, 7, 9, 31, 61, 73, 74, 89, 84, 87, 96, 63 and 78. That's 27.8 in each of the top five seasons, 54.6 for the top ten. It's not conclusive that Morris' career IP advantage of nearly 1300 and his season-by-season advantage of nearly 55 actually beats Saberhagen's big ERA+ advantage. But I think it's pretty conclusive that Rogers and Guidry have been knocked out.

The next group is the middle-weight pitchers. Each of these pitchers has less than 425 career starts (or more than 100 less than Morris) and between 2,500 and 2,900 IP (in the same neighborhood as Saberhagen and Rogers, and roughly 1000 IP less than Morris).
Jimmy Key, 470 games, 389 starts, 2591.7 IP
Dwight Gooden, 420 games, 410 starts, 2800.7 IP
Frank Viola, 421 games, 420 starts, 2836.3 IP
Dave Stieb, 443 games, 412 starts, 2895.3 IP
John Candeleria, 600 games, 356 starts, 2525.7 IP
Candeleria is obviously the lemon of the lot, with a lot of time spent as a reliever. He only has 12 seasons as a starter. He compares to Morris pretty well in ERA+ but the IP comparison is atrocious. Morris beats Candeleria in IP by 60, 37, 46, 59, 60, 61, 60, 72, 83, 111, 110 and 78. That's an average of 69.75 IP per season. That's a huge difference to make up considering that outside of his one big season, Candeleria beats Morris in ERA+ by an average of only 2.

That knocks out 12 of the other pitchers, leaving Morris in the top ten along with Eckersley, Gooden, Hershiser, Key, Reuschel, Saberhagen, Stieb, Tanana and Viola.
   38. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 30, 2007 at 02:15 AM (#2383802)
My relative ranking of pitchers I have rated on that list (basically eligible starting pitchers through 1999, not counting pre-1893 pitchers):

1972-1991: Rick Reuschel (#32)
1973-1993: Frank Tanana (#51)
1973-1985: Steve Rogers (#71)
1975-1988: Ron Guidry (#88)
1975-1998: Dennis Eckersley (#22.5 - I have him on a different list)
1977-1994: Jack Morris (#90)
1979-1991: Mike Scott (#156)
1979-1998: Dave Stieb (#44)

I'll try to get the others done this weekend, when I should finally have a decent amount of free time . . .
   39. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 30, 2007 at 02:20 AM (#2383830)
This is especially true for Rogers who can't withstand a season-by-season comparison. Rogers has the better ERA+ in the first two seasons compared to Morris, but Morris beats him in season 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, ties him in 9 and beats him again in 10.


I couldn't disagree with this more . . . WAR, from best to worst 7 seasons:

Rogers: 7.7, 6.9, 5.6, 5.1, 5.0, 4.9, 4.8
Morris: 5.9, 5.7, 5.5, 5.2, 4.5, 4.3, 4.3

They aren't close on peak, IMO.

I'll take Rogers' 114 DRA+ in 2982 tIP over Morris' 100 DRA+ in 4118 tIP any time. Rogers had 53.8 career WAR compared to Morris at 49.7, despite the 1136 fewer tIP.

Rogers pitched behind weaker defenses in tougher leagues which ERA+ doesn't really take into account.
   40. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:38 AM (#2384124)
Continuing a look at pitchers who debuted over a 15 year period from 1970 to 1984- also known as the best pitchers between Blyleven and Clemens.

first, the middle-weight careers, 2500 to 2900 IP:
Bret Saberhagen, 126 ERA+ in 2562.7 IP
Jimmy Key, 122 in 2591.7
Dwight Gooden, 110 in 2800.7
Frank Viola, 113 in 2836.3
Dave Stieb, 122 in 2895.3

then, the heavy-weight careers, 3000 IP and up:
Orel Hershiser, 112 in 3130.3
Dennis Eckersley, 116 in 3285.7
Rick Reuschel, 114 in 3548.3
Jack Morris, 105 in 3824
Frank Tanana, 106 in 4188.3

In a previous post, I noted that Bret Saberhagen beats Jack Morris every year in ERA+ while Morris beats Saberhagen every year in IP. The same pattern holds true for other pitchers. For example, Jimmy Key was a starting pitcher for 12 seasons. Comparing season-to-season ERA+, Key beats Morris in their top ten seasons, while Morris doesn't take a victory until seasons 11 and 12. However, Morris again dominates the IP category. He beats Key by 32, 31, 34, 50, 41, 38, 37, 37, 71, 72, 81 and 67 IP a year. That's 37.6 for the top 5 and 48 for the top ten. Frank Viola was also a starting pitcher for 12 seasons. He also had a better peak than Morris. However, his peak doesn't dominate Morris as Saberhagen and Key do. Viola beats Morris in ERA+ for their first 6 seasons, but then Morris takes the next 6 (#7-12) and adds 5 seasons that Viola doesn't have which are better than Viola's worst two years. Just as Viola doesn't lead Morris by as much in ERA+, Morris doesn't lead Viola by as much in IP. But he does have the lead. Morris beats Viola in IP by 32, 10, 11, 15, 7, 1, 4, 8, 9, 30, 52 and 62. Viola does pretty well in seasons 2 through 9 but he doesn't compete with the top season or with anything in the 10th season or beyond.

When I posted earlier about Bret Saberhagen, I wasn't sure whether Morris' advantage in season-by-season and career IP made up for Saberhagen's advantage in season-by-season and career ERA+. The same question could be asked of the split advantage between Morris and both Key and Viola. Thankfully, the uber-stats help us out. Viola's strong ERA+ is good enough for 187 career Win Shares and 76.8 WARP. Key's strong ERA+ is good enough for 188 career Win Shares and 84.7 WARP. Morris' big IP is good enough for 225 Win Shares and 90.2 WARP. It looks like Morris' IP dominance is better than Key and Viola's ERA+ dominance. This didn't surprise me in the case of Viola. I figured that Morris could make up 8 ERA+ in nearly 1000 IP. I wasn't as sure he could make up the 17 point difference between his ERA+ and Jimmy Key's. However, Bret Saberhagen checks in with 193 WS and a 90.8 WARP. According to WS, Morris' IP is more valuable but that is due to his career advantage and not just the in-season advantage. Here's one place where Morris big IP hurts him. Even with 1300 more IP than Saberhagen, Morris only managed to accumulate an extra 32 WS. According to WARP, Saberhagen's ERA+ is more valuable even with nearly 1300 fewer IP. The three pitchers in question are ranked Saberhagen-Key-Viola. Morris pretty clearly beats Viola. Saberhagen pretty clearly beats Morris. It's not as clear that Morris beats Key or conversely that Key beats Morris. Depending on your preference for peak or career, and for raw value or replacement value, Morris and Key vie for 2nd and 3rd.

We haven't yet looked at Dave Stieb, the last of the middle-weight careers. Stieb has the same ERA+ as Key but he also has 300 more IP than his former teammate. Stieb has an even better peak and prime than Key. Comparing season-to-season ERA+, Stieb beats Key in seasons 1 through 3, trails Key in seasons 4 and 5, and then beats Key in seasons 6 and beyond. If Morris struggled to make up the 17 point difference in ERA+ on Key, then he's going to have an even harder time making up the difference on Stieb. The uber-stats bear that out. Stieb comes in with 210 WS and 88.0 WARP, bettering Key though still trailing Morris. However, as with Saberhagen, Morris' lead over Stieb is only 15 WS and 2.2 WARP. That's not a lot of value for 1000 IP. Just as Hough's extra seven seasons couldn't push him past Morris, Morris' extra IP shouldn't push him past Stieb.

There's one more middle-weight career to study: Dwight Gooden. Saberhagen and Stieb beat Morris because they have great primes as well as great peaks. Gooden only has the peak. His top three seasons beat Morris. His second-best season is better than Morris' best and his third-best season as good as Morris' second. But Gooden can't keep it going. They tie in the 4th season and then Morris takes every season after that except for another tie in the 10th. If we set a stronger cut-off for IP, like 150 for a season, Morris then catches Gooden in the 3rd season instead of the 2nd and really starts trouncing him by the 6th. And Morris kills Gooden in bulk, with 15 seasons over 150 IP to Gooden's 10 and 11 seasons over 200 IP to Gooden's 7. An extreme peak voter might prefer Gooden to Morris, but otherwise Gooden is down there between Key and Viola with 187 WS and 79.5 WARP. Again, I'm not surprised. Morris' 1000 IP should make up the 5 point differential in ERA+.

On to the pitchers with more than 3000 IP in their career. First up from this group is Orel Hershiser. Again, the story is the same as it ever was. The other pitcher beats Morris in ERA+ while Morris beats the other pitcher in IP. However, the story isn't always identical. Hershiser doesn't dominate Morris in ERA+ the way that some other pitchers have. Rather, there's a back and forth as there was between Morris and Guidry. Hershiser takes seasons 1-5 and 9. Morris takes 6-8 and beyond. Morris does however own the IP category. He beats Hershiser by 26, 3, 10, 27, 26, 35, 39, 40, 36, 45, 46, 19, 30, 35 and 40. Hershiser is one of the few pitchers who seems to hold his own in that the IP differential doesn't grow exponentially. Yet it is there. So who built up more value? Morris had 225 WS and 90.2 WARP. Hershiser comes in at 210 and 87.0. That's pretty close. That actually puts Hershiser in the same territory as Stieb (the exact same 210 and one more WARP of 88.0). However, Hershiser did have about 250 more IP in which to put up a similar career number. That leaves Hershiser short of Stieb. Does it also leave Hershiser short of Morris? It does mean that Morris only added 15 WS in 700 IP which isn't much. But Hershiser pitched in the NL, while Morris had to face the DH. Morris' league ERA was 4.08. Hershiser's, despite pitching into the late '90s, was 3.89. And Morris was able to make up 17 points in ERA+ on Key in 1300 IP, surely he could also make up 7 points of ERA+ in 700 IP.

Next is the odd case of Dennis Eckersley. The "Eck" is on this list because he does have a strong ERA+ and more than 3000 IP. However, the "Eck" spent half of his career as a reliever. That hurt some of the other candidate such as John Candeleria and Charlie Hough. It doesn't hurt Eckersley nearly as much because- unlike Candeleria and Hough- he wasn't just an average reliever. Eckersley was an elite closer. But first, we'll compare Morris and Eckersley as starters. Eckersley had 12 seasons as a starter (that's already as many as Guidry, Rogers, Viola and Key!). Head to head with Morris, Eckersley has the best four seasons in ERA+, but Morris takes over in season 5 and never relinquishes the lead again. Eckersley also didn't have as many IP as Morris. As a starter alone, Eckersley doesn't beat Morris (or some of the pitchers further down the list). However, Eckersley's second career as a reliever pushes him past practically everybody on the list. He ends up with 301 WS and a 127.1 WARP. That's because he has the starting career of a Key or Viola (187/188 WS, 76/84 WARP) plus another 11 years as a closer (picking up approximately 125 WS and 40-50 WARP). That puts Eckersley ahead of everybody, though only half of his career is as as starter.
   41. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:39 AM (#2384125)
Two to go, and they're fairly similar pitchers. Rick Reuschel debuted in 1972 and Frank Tanana in 1973. They both pitched for a long time. Reuschel has a similar number of games as Morris does: 557 games and 529 starts to Morris' 549 games and 527 starts. However, despite pitching nearly the same number of games, Morris has 275.7 more IP than Reuschel. So Morris was going nearly 7 1/3 innings per start while Reuschel was going just over 6 2/3 inning per start. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it really adds up over the course of a career. It's even more significant in that Reuschel got his start 5 years before Morris when most pitchers were pitching more often. You see a similar story with Frank Tanana. He actually pitched longer than Morris did, with 638 games, 616 starts and 4,188.3 IP. But his innings per start are closer to Reuschel's than to Morris' at just a little bit more than 6 and 2/3 per game. And like Reuschel, Tanana started several years earlier than Morris when pitchers were still going deeper into games. So Morris' advantage in IP per start is even more impressive considering the change in usage from the '70s to the '80s.

Here's how Morris, Reuschel and Tanana compare in top ten finishes in IP:
Morris: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 5, 6, 10
Reuschel: 4, 7, 7, 7, 8, 9
Tanana: 6, 9, 10

Of course, as with all of these pitchers, Morris doesn't do as well in ERA+. Again, top ten finishes:
Morris: 4, 6, 8
Reuschel: 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Tanana: 1, 3, 4, 7

So what does this tell us? For one thing, Rick Reuschel is better than Frank Tanana. They debuted only a year apart and so they faced similar conditions. Tanana was in the AL and did have to face the DH which Reuschel did not, but Reuschel's NL was stronger. The differences even out as Reuschel's league ERA was 3.85 while Tanana's was 3.87. And while Tanana may have pitched longer than Reuschel, he didn't pitch more effectively. Reuschel made 6 top ten finishes in IP to Tanana's 3. Reuschel made 5 top ten finishes in ERA+ to Tanana's 4. Comparing them head to head, Reuschel beats Tanana in ERA+ in their best season, 2nd, Tanana wins in the 3rd, and then Reuschel wins from the 4th on down. Tanana's extra 550 IP are not enough to make up the 8 point difference in ERA+. That's pretty consistent with what we've seen so far. Morris could make up 17 pts in ERA+ in 1250 IP, but not 17 in 925 or 21 in 1300. Similarly, Tanana is unable to make up 8 pts in 550 IP.

So Reuschel's ahead of Tanana, but where are they in relation to Morris? If Tanana can't make up 8 pts of ERA+ on Reuschel in 550 IP, then similarly Morris can't make up more points in ERA+ in fewer innings (9 in 280). Reuschel wasn't the work-horse that Morris was, but he wasn't a light-weight either with those 6 top ten finishes in IP. That even pushes Reuschel ahead of Saberhagen and just behind Stieb as the second-best starter in this era.

Just to compare top ten in IP:
Reuschel: 4, 7, 7, 7, 8, 9
Saberhagen: 1, 3, 5, 9
Stieb: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5

And ERA+:
Reuschel: 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Saberhagen: 1, 3, 3, 4, 9
Stieb: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6

Now, finally, Tanana vs. Morris. As with every other match-up we've looked at so far, Tanana beats Morris in ERA+, Morris beats Tanana in IP. Tanana takes the first five seasons in ERA+, Morris 6 and 7, then Tanana 8-12. Morris takes the first season in IP, Tanana takes the second, then Morris takes 3-11, and then Tanana pushes ahead again in season 12 and beyond. Superficially, that looks a lot like the pattern for both Guidry and Hershiser and considering that Morris beat the others on career, and Tanana can stand shoulder to shoulder with Morris on career, it looks like a clear win for Tanana. But that's not necessarily the case. Tanana doesn't beat Hershiser. Hershiser takes Tanana in ERA+ for the first seven seasons before Tanana takes over with season eight. And Tanana beats Hershiser in IP but by some pretty slim margins: 19, 4, 1, 7, 10, 24, 13, 14, 15, 20, 15, 24 and 35. WS and WARP pick up on the same thing. Tanana has 241 WS and 110.0 WARP to Hershiser's 210 and 87.0, but that's only 31 extra WS and 23 more WARP in 1000 more innings. Morris had a similar lead on Saberhagen. Again, that's not a lot of value for 1000 IP.

Which leaves us with a slight problem. One solution would be to declare Hershiser better than both Morris and Tanana and move Jack down. I'm sure some would readily do that. But before doing that, I wanted to be sure that Morris was really a worse pitcher than Tanana so I compared them, not by ranked seasons but chronologically. Morris and Tanana have 15 seasons in common:

1979: Morris 133 ERA+ in 197 IP, Tanana 106 in 90
1980: Morris 99 in 250, Tanana 95 in 204
1981: Morris 124 in 198, Tanana 97 in 141
1982: Morris 101 in 266, Tanana 92 in 194
1983: Morris 117 in 293, Tanana 128 in 159 (some might call this a split, I think the 134 IP wins)
1984: Tanana 128 in 246, Morris 109 in 240
1985: Morris 122 in 257, Tanana 97 in 215
1986: Morris 127 in 266, Tanana 100 in 188
1987: Morris 126 in 266, Tanana 109 in 218
1988: Morris 97 in 235, Tanana 91 in 203
1989: Tanana 107 in 223, Morris 78 in 170
1990: Morris 88 in 249, Tanana 75 in 176
1991: Morris 124 in 246, Tanana 110 in 217
1992: Morris 102 in 240, Tanana 90 in 186
1993: Tanana 91 in 202, Morris 71 in 152
In their 15 head-to-head seasons, Morris is the better pitcher 12 times, Tanana only 3. 11 of those 12 seasons, Morris beats Tanana in both ERA+ and in IP. Morris is clearly the better pitcher at this point. This does leave out Tanana's peak. But even if we give each of them the seasons in which the other pitcher was not a regular, Morris still beats Tanana 13 seasons to 8. And Tanana's mid-'70s peak, while pretty good, did come when it was still a pitcher's era. He only made the top ten in IP once in those five years (6th in 1976) though he did do much better in ERA+ (1st, 3rd and 4th). Based on how they did in the same situations, I would take Morris over Tanana.

So here's what I end up with, ranking the pitchers who debuted between 1970-1984 (or between Blyleven and Clemens).

1. Dennis Eckersley (1/2 starter, 1/2 reliever)
2. Dave Stieb
3. Rick Reuschel
(I think those last two picks will make Joe Dimino pretty happy)
4. Bret Saberhagen
5. Jack Morris
6. Orel Hershiser
7. Frank Tanana
8. Dwight Gooden
9. Jimmy Key
10. Frank Viola

A more extreme peak voter could push Morris down to 8th or 10th. A more extreme career voter could push Morris up to 2nd or 3rd. But I don't care for extremes and this looks about right.
   42. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:03 AM (#2384136)
Jack Morris, the winning-est pitcher of the '80s and the winning-est pitcher to debut between 1970 and 1984 is not however, the best pitcher of the '80s or the best pitcher to debut between 1970 and 1984. That would leave him out of a "small hall" Hall of Fame. But we're not dealing with a "small hall" Hall of Merit or a "small hall" Hall of Fame.

Taking a look at pitchers inducted to the Hall of Merit by decade:
1880s: 5
1890s: 4
1900s: 6
1910s: 4
1920s: 6
1930s: 8
1940s: 2
1950s: 6
1960s: 6
1970s: 8
The '10s and '40s look poised to add their 5th and 3rd pitchers with high backlog candidates Dick Redding and Bucky Walters. The '70s will add at least one more with Nolan Ryan and likely a 10th with high backlog reliever Rollie Fingers. However, the '70s are an obvious outlier, easily outpacing any other decade. So we're looking more at the other decades in which 4-6 is the norm. That might be good news for Morris, sitting at 5th on my list. But it might not be. So far, the study has only included starting pitchers. However, three prominent relievers made their debut within the time-frame that we're looking at: Goose Gossage in 1972, Bruce Sutter in 1976 and Lee Smith in 1980. Sutter is in the Hall of Fame but doesn't have much support for the Hall of Merit. Gossage should go into both the Hall of Merit and the Hall of Fame in their next elections respectively (2000 for the HoM, 2008 for the HoF and yes, I'm predicting it here and now).

Getting back to DanG's earlier article in post #15, it does look like Morris' way might be blocked. There are two '70s pitchers who should precede him (Blyleven and Reuschel into the Hall of Fame, Fingers and Reuschel into the Hall of Merit). There are at least three '80s pitchers who should precede him into either Hall (Gossage, Saberhagen and Stieb). That leaves Morris, at best, 4th in the '80s and 6th for his contemporaries. However, there's no guarantee that there will be 4 pitchers inducted from the '80s. The '40s, after all, are still looking for their 3rd and there's not much chance of a 4th getting in after Walters. And there's no guarantee that Morris would actually be 4th in line. The slot could go to a second reliever like Sutter. And there's a decent chance of peak/prime voters prevailing with a candidate like Hershiser or Gooden. I know that few other voters will have Morris ranked as high as I do, and that's still not high enough to get Morris onto my ballot. So Morris isn't a lock for the Hall of Merit. He's not even the strongest of the borderline cases. And he shouldn't be a lock for the Hall of Fame, though his chances look better there than they do here. However, Jack Morris wouldn't be the worst pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame despite the many who point to his ERA and claim that to be true. And he wouldn't be the embarrassing choice for the Hall of Merit that some claim him to be- though he's clearly not the best choice either.
   43. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: May 30, 2007 at 06:03 AM (#2384149)
However, it's tricky to construct a counter argument without resorting to "advanced" metrics. How can we bring Joe Fan a little bit of reality in regards to Morris' value?


First, look at those 28 pitchers with fewer wins than Morris.

* 4 were elected despite low win totals, not because of them (Koufax, Dean, Joss, Ward)
* 5 had win totals just a little less than Morris, but would be recognized as superior to Morris by Joe Fan (Brown, Gibson, Hubbell, Ford, Marichal)
* 7 had shorter careers and thus many fewer wins, but had some absolutely dominant seasons, in a way Morris never did ( Drysdale, McGinnity, Newhouser, Rusie, Vance, Waddell, Walsh). All of these guy scored far better in black ink than morris.

That leaves 12 who, to Joe Fan, have nothing more than Morris to sell, wins:

Bender
Bunning
Chesbro
Coveleski
Gomez
Haines
Hoyt
Hunter
Lemon
Marquard
Pennock
Willis

Joe Fan would recognize most of these guys as mistakes. He would think some were mistakes who weren't (like Bunning) and not recognize other mistakes (like Hunter), but overall, you point out to Joe Fan that Morris is not in fact in the median of HOF starters, but in with the mistakes. Perhaps the best of the mistakes, but the mistakes nonetheless.
   44. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 30, 2007 at 06:22 AM (#2384153)
About 2-3 years ago, the guy who runs the basketball-reference.com website, Justin Kurbatko (spelling?) had what might be his only post at btf. It was a complete list of the winningest pitcher for every ten year period in baseball history. Almost all are in the HoF. The big exception is from around the 1980s when guys like Morris, Guidry, and Viola (I think it was them, this is all from memory) jump on the list. The 1980s were a really unimpressive time for frontline starting pitchers. I think Bucky Walters also had a winningest 10 year stretch also.

Among other things, Jack Morris was the best starting pitcher to ever play for Sparky Anderson. The prematurely aged skipper worked his magic with hitters and his teams were primarily noted for their power. It's rather fitting that a not tremendously impressive workhorse like Morris would be Anderson's best ever pitcher. I have to think that, with the possible exception of Bucky Harris, every other manager who last 20+ years had at least one more talented ace than Anderson.
   45. DCW3 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 07:18 AM (#2384170)
About 2-3 years ago, the guy who runs the basketball-reference.com website, Justin Kurbatko (spelling?) had what might be his only post at btf. It was a complete list of the winningest pitcher for every ten year period in baseball history. Almost all are in the HoF.

The B-R Play Index makes this infinitely easier. Here's the list of the winningest pitcher over each ten-year span since 1901. The years listed represent the first year of each ten-year period:

1901-06: Christy Mathewson
1907-13: Walter Johnson
1914-15: Pete Alexander
1916-17: Stan Coveleski
1918-22: Burleigh Grimes
1923-30: Lefty Grove
1931-33: Carl Hubbell
1934: Paul Derringer
1935-38: Bucky Walters
1939-44: Hal Newhouser
1945-46: Warren Spahn
1947: Bob Lemon
1948-56: Warren Spahn
1957-58: Don Drysdale
1959: Drysdale/Marichal
1960-62: Juan Marichal
1963-64: Bob Gibson
1965-66: Gaylord Perry
1967: Fergie Jenkins
1968: Tom Seaver
1969-70: Jim Palmer
1971-76: Steve Carlton
1977: Ron Guidry
1978-83: Jack Morris
1984: Clemens/Viola
1985-86: Roger Clemens
1987-96: Greg Maddux
1997: Randy Johnson
   46. The District Attorney Posted: May 30, 2007 at 07:39 AM (#2384172)
Pretty good memory by Dag :-)
   47. sunnyday2 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 10:50 AM (#2384195)
How about that, Greg Maddux has the longest run in history, going head to head with Clemens no less.
   48. jingoist Posted: May 30, 2007 at 11:34 AM (#2384202)
Once again the cogent aguments from the HoM electorate bring sunshine to this misinformed lurker.
I was ready to pounce on poor Jack Morris with both feet as an example of a woefully over-rated 1980's type player before reading these many posts.
I fould Chris Fluit's (and others) reasoned analysis thought provoking enough to cause me to rethink my impulse to jump.
Maybe the 80's were a tough time for anyone to dominate. Maybe there was more equality across the teams in terms of the distribution of quality players and the level of play was such that a 3.90 era was seen as representative of the winningest pitcher from 78 to 83.

If Jack Morris is elected to either hall I think he's in the group with Sutton and Rixey and Wynn: desrving of honor but clearly in the lower quartile.
That said, Back Jack is clearly better than all but 50 or so guys who ever pitched in MLB.
   49. TomH Posted: May 30, 2007 at 12:28 PM (#2384222)
Justin Kubatko

besides being basketball-ref.com guy, he has worked up many of hte 'transltsed stats' at baseball-ref.
   50. TomH Posted: May 30, 2007 at 12:28 PM (#2384223)
wow, cannot type.

besides being basketball-ref.com guy, he has worked up many of the 'translated stats' at baseball-ref.
   51. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 30, 2007 at 01:42 PM (#2384261)
I think Chris's analysis brings up several questions:

1) With Morris and Tanana both racking up lots of innings in Detroit, are we certain that Morris' innings totals are not in some way reflective of Anderson's managing style? Recall that while he was Cap'n Hook in the 1970s he became a slow hook as the closer idea gained prominence in the late 1970s. Is Morris' durability partly a usage issue? (no denying he could do it, but was he in a unique circumstance to do so?)

2) Were Morris' defenses special in any way that might under or over express his ERA?

3) What is the outer limit for rewarding durability at the expense of effectiveness?

3) Is SP talent in the 1980s roughly analagous to 1B or C in the deadball era? If so, what's that mean? Another angle: Ryan, Gossage, Blyleven, Carlton, Seaver, Sutton, Clemens are very much pitchers of the 1980s....
   52. Chris Cobb Posted: May 30, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2384328)
Re several questions:

1) I don't think context is relevant: the fact is that pretty much all the other starters of the era broke down at some point, while Morris did not. His durability is the genuine article. However, Chris Fluit's comparisons of his durability to that of his near contemporaries is a little misleading: IP were dropping steadily and at some points rapidly between the early 1970s and the early 1980s, so Morris has an inherent advantage in IP comparisons with pitchers like Saberhagen, Hershiser, Key, and Gooden. That might be enough to push Hershiser ahead of Morris: I haven't studied Hershiser yet myself, so I won't offer a judgment here, just a suggestion.

2) Morris consistently pitched in front of better than average defenses. BP has his career NRA (which includes defensive support) at 4.29, while his DERA (which sets defensive support at average) is at 4.45. That's a DERA+ of 101, worse than his ERA+ of 105.

3) That depends on the era. The comprehensive metrics both view Morris's durability as quite important, making his career value highly comparable to several pitchers who were significantly more effective on a per-inning basis. However (and this is something Chris Fluit's analysis doesn't examine), Morris never had any _great_ seasons, because he never combined his exceptional durability with great effectiveness, as some of his contemporaries did.

For a sample of the difference this makes, here's the sum of the top 5, non-consecutive, non-strike adjusted seasons for the starting pitchers at the top of Chris Fluit's list:

47.7 Frank Tanana
46.3 Frank Viola
46.2 Dave Stieb
46.2 Bret Saberhagen
42.7 Orel Hershiser
42.2 Rick Reuschel
40.3 Jimmy Key
40.2 Jack Morris
39.6 Dwight Gooden (proof that one all-time great season isn't enough to dominate this list)

3A) That's the big question, isn't it, not only for Morris's case, but for those of Stieb and Saberhagen as well. Myself, I think there are too many great pitchers immediately before and after the 1980s drought for it to be entirely a creation of adverse pitching conditions and level competition. The best of this group are borderline HoMers, the middle of the pack are clearly HoVG, and that's where I see Jack Morris.
   53. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 30, 2007 at 03:22 PM (#2384385)
3A)

Oh yeah, 4 is the fourth counting number, not 3.
   54. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 30, 2007 at 03:50 PM (#2384409)
To figure out who Morris' contemporaries were, here's a list of pitchers born within 4 years of Morris who pitched at least 3000 innings, plus a couple of really good pitchers who just missed that cutoff:

1951 Blyleven
1952 None
1953 Candelaria, Tanana
1954 Eckersley
1955 Martinez, Morris
1956 Welch
1957 Stieb
1958 Hershiser
1959 None
   55. Dizzypaco Posted: May 30, 2007 at 03:52 PM (#2384413)
A couple of assorted points:

People keep lumping the class of '84 (Saberhagen, Gooden, Key, Langston, etc.) with Morris, which I think is a mistake. Its clear that the Great Black Hole of New Pitchers (GBHNP) occurred between either 1971 and 1983, or 1968 and 1983 if you view Blyleven as an exception. Beginning in 1984, the floodgates opened again, led by Clemens in 84 with a strong supporting class. by 1988, Maddux, Brown, Glavine, Smoltz, Johnson, Schilling, Cone, and many others all followed.

Second, I believe something about the context has to be in play - statistically, the chances that this pattern occur naturally without changes in context seem relatively slim.

Finally, I think most voters have ignored this issue to a great extent. I agree that Morris was, at best, very good, but if you look at the players voters compared to Stieb, its clear that the issue was generally not a consideration. I'm not arguing that there should be boatloads of pitchers inducted just to fill a quota, but I think it should at least be considered.
   56. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:21 PM (#2384453)
Here is WARP3 for the pitchers born within 4 years of Morris:
Blyleven   141.5
Eckersley  126.4
Tanana     111.3
Martinez    90.9
Morris      90.1
Stieb       88.9
Hershiser   86.3
Welch       74.6
Candelaria  68.9
   57. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:32 PM (#2384467)
Here's WARP3 for some pitchers already in the HOM:

Bunning 94.2
Vance 92.6
Lemon 90.4
Walsh 86.2
Ferrell 83.3
Brown 72.0
   58. DL from MN Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:53 PM (#2384502)
> Morris consistently pitched in front of better than average defenses

And we can vote for Trammell and Whitaker in a couple years.

Interesting that Tanana tops the list in top 5 seasons and he was able to put up a long career that tops the same group in cumulative WARP.
   59. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2384515)
A few more HOM WARP3:

Ford 93.0
Marichal 91.0
Faber 87.4
Rixey 85.9
Koufax 71.1
Waddell 70.1
   60. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:22 PM (#2384561)
Finally, I think most voters have ignored this issue to a great extent. I agree that Morris was, at best, very good, but if you look at the players voters compared to Stieb, its clear that the issue was generally not a consideration. I'm not arguing that there should be boatloads of pitchers inducted just to fill a quota, but I think it should at least be considered.


I agree that it should be considered and I have. It's still not enough, Diz.
   61. Jose Canusee Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:22 PM (#2384563)
Nolan Ryan's career covered all of Morris's

Ryan is going to be the glue that connects the world if they still play the "degrees of separation" game 50 years from now.
   62. JPWF13 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2384580)
Jack Morris, the winning-est pitcher of the '80s and the winning-est pitcher to debut between 1970 and 1984 is not however, the best pitcher of the '80s or the best pitcher to debut between 1970 and 1984.


Yet another way to look at Morris' durability "advantage" is to subtract another pitcher's numbers from Morris' and see what's left:

Subtract Guidry's career from Morris and you get 1432ip and an ERA of 4.71* (ERA+ of 87)
Saberhagen: 1261 ip, era 5.23, 78 era+
Stieb: 929 ip, 5.64 era, 72 era+
Key: 1232 ip, 5.07 era, 80 era+
Gooden: 1023 ip, 4.46 era, 92 era+
Viola: 988 ip, 4.72 era, 86 era+
Hershiser: 694 ip, 5.02 era, 81 era+

Sure Morris pitched 1000 ip more than most of these guys- but what was the value of those 1000 extra ip? If Morris pitched 2800 ip exactly as well as Stieb- then threw another 1000ip where he was worse than James Baldwin how does that extra durability help him or his teams?


*I normalized everyone's ERA/ER to Morris league average of 4.08 first.
   63. Bizarro ARod Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:52 PM (#2384600)
The Yankees might see an "advantage" in having a durable pitcher.
   64. DCW3 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 06:44 PM (#2384645)
How about that, Greg Maddux has the longest run in history, going head to head with Clemens no less.

Well, Warren Spahn led the majors for eleven ten-year spans, compared to nine by Maddux--Spahn just had that one period where Bob Lemon broke up his streak.

Between 1998 and 2007, Randy Johnson has the most wins of any pitcher to date with 158--but the only pitcher with a reasonable chance at catching him by the end of the season is Maddux, who is only five wins behind and could easily move into first place if Johnson breaks down again. It's a real tribute to Maddux's consistency that, despite winning his last Cy Young in 1995 and having not been a dominant pitcher for a number of years, he's got a chance to be the winningest pitcher of the past decade. The real surprise is that in fifth place over the past decade--only two wins out of third place--is Bartolo Colon.
   65. TomH Posted: May 30, 2007 at 07:25 PM (#2384692)
The B-R Play Index makes this infinitely easier. Here's the list of the winningest pitcher over each ten-year span since 1901. The years listed represent the first year of each ten-year period:
1984: Clemens/Viola
1985-86: Roger Clemens
1987-96: Greg Maddux
1997: Randy Johnson

It's a real tribute to Maddux's consistency that, despite winning his last Cy Young in 1995 and having not been a dominant pitcher for a number of years, he's got a chance to be the winningest pitcher of the past decade.


it's more like a tribute to
a: that 'decade' is exactly 10 years and not 11. Clemens usually tops him if you use 11, or 13, or 20...
b: Maddux playing on really good teams!

Maddux has been a great, consistent pitcher, with a truly superb 4-year peak. But put Rocket Man on the Braves for most of his career and Maddux on mostly AL teams, and Clemens' W-L record and ERA would dwarf Greg's. Which is why Clemens can be argued to tbe the best pitcher ever.
   66. DCW3 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 07:42 PM (#2384724)
b: Maddux playing on really good teams!

Over the course of his career, Maddux has played on better teams than Clemens--but since 1998, the quality of the teams Maddux and Clemens have played on has probably been just about identical.
   67. Paul Wendt Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:07 PM (#2384762)
The fact that Morris' ERA is not impressive for a HOF prospect has seemingly made a greater impact than I thought it would. 3.90 is just not impressive- and the voters who were looking at Morris included a great many men who'd seen 1960s baseball first hand- an ERA over 3.00 made them uneasy, 3.90 was just too much to take.

This is predictable. See Phil Niekro's wait until 1997 despite a lot more wins than Jack Morris. Niekro getting 50% support ~ Morris getting 10%.
Raw ERA is a bigtime popular statistic, the batting average of pitchers as Wins is the runs batted in.

One prominent Eastern Mass baseball writer appeared at a SABR meeting in Pawtucket a few years ago. Mike Shalin used Niekro's election as his primary example of the world going to hell in his (Shalin's) middle age. We who understand (SABR audience) that not Wins but ERA is the best measure of a pitcher's achievement supposedly agree.

--
Chris Fluit #32
Being the winning-est pitcher of the '80s doesn't automatically turn Morris into Carlton or Seaver (the winning-est pitchers of the '70s with 178 each).

Someone may have said alreadybut I need to stop reading now

Palmer enjoyed eight 20-win seasons (169) . . . and 186 wins during the 70s if I 'rithmetic correctly. Five more in the playoffs and world series.
. . . he wasn't really bad in his off years. The Orioles won both races, ironically, and he put up one of October's best 0-2 records in four starts/ 33 innings.
   68. kthejoker Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:09 PM (#2384763)
To satisfy my curiosity, a list of Morris' cohorts by debut (1977 +/- 2 years) that pitched at least 1000 IP and had 100 starts:

Player              From  To   W   L   WL%   ERA    G   GS  CG SHO  SV   IP     H   ER   HR  BB   SO  Debut  Age
Joaquin Andujar     1976
-1988 127 118  .518  3.58  405 305  68  19   9 2153.0 2016  857 155  731 1032 Apr 08 23.109
Floyd Bannister     1977
-1992 134 143  .484  4.06  431 363  62  16   0 2388.0 2320 1078 291  846 1723 Apr 19 21.313
Len Barker          1976
-1987  74  76  .493  4.34  248 194  35   7   5 1323.7 1289  639  96  513  975 Sep 14 21.069
Jim Beattie         1978
-1986  52  87  .374  4.17  203 182  31   7   1 1148.7 1174  532  88  461  660 Apr 25 23.295
Britt Burns         1978
-1985  70  60  .538  3.66  193 161  39  11   3 1094.3 1045  445  93  362  734 Aug 05 19.058
John Candelaria     1975
-1993 177 122  .592  3.33  600 356  54  13  29 2525.7 2399  935 245  592 1673 Jun 08 21.214
Jim Clancy          1977
-1991 140 167  .456  4.23  472 381  74  11  10 2517.3 2513 1182 244  947 1422 Jul 26 21.220
Danny Darwin        1978
-1998 171 182  .484  3.84  716 371  53   9  32 3016.7 2951 1286 321  874 1942 Sep 08 22.318
Richard Dotson      1979
-1990 111 113  .496  4.23  305 295  55  11   0 1857.3 1884  872 194  740  973 Sep 04 20.237
Dennis Eckersley    1975
-1998 197 171  .535  3.50 1071 361 100  20 390 3285.7 3076 1278 347  738 2401 Apr 12 20.191
Pete Falcone        1975
-1984  70  90  .438  4.07  325 217  25   7   7 1435.3 1385  649 152  671  865 Apr 13 21.194
Mike Flanagan       1975
-1992 167 143  .539  3.90  526 404 101  19   4 2770.0 2806 1199 251  890 1491 Sep 05 23.263
Ron Guidry          1975
-1988 170  91  .651  3.29  368 323  95  26   4 2392.0 2198  874 226  633 1778 Jul 27 24.333
Bill Gullickson     1979
-1994 162 136  .544  3.93  398 390  54  11   0 2560.0 2659 1118 282  622 1279 Sep 26 20.218
Moose Haas          1976
-1987 100  83  .546  4.01  266 252  56   8   2 1655.0 1717  738 162  436  853 Sep 08 20.139
Rick Honeycutt      1977
-1997 109 143  .433  3.72  797 268  47  11  38 2160.0 2183  893 185  657 1038 Aug 24 23.056
La Marr Hoyt        1979
-1986  98  68  .590  3.99  244 172  48   8  10 1311.3 1313  582 140  279  681 Sep 14 24.256
Matt Keough         1977
-1986  58  84  .408  4.17  215 175  53   7   0 1190.0 1190  552 132  510  590 Sep 03 22.062
Bob Knepper         1976
-1990 146 155  .485  3.68  445 413  78  30   1 2708.0 2737 1106 228  857 1473 Sep 10 22.108
Mike Krukow         1976
-1989 124 117  .515  3.90  369 355  41  10   1 2190.3 2188  949 196  767 1478 Sep 06 24.229
Mike LaCoss         1978
-1991  98 103  .488  4.02  415 243  26   9  12 1739.7 1786  777  99  725  783 Jul 18 22.049
Dennis Lamp         1977
-1992  96  96  .500  3.93  639 163  21   7  35 1830.7 1975  799 122  549  857 Aug 21 24.332
Rick Langford       1976
-1986  73 106  .408  4.01  260 196  85  10   0 1491.0 1570  664 160  416  671 Jun 13 24.085
Charlie Leibrandt   1979
-1993 140 119  .541  3.71  394 346  52  18   2 2308.0 2390  952 172  656 1121 Sep 17 22.348
Randy Lerch         1975
-1986  60  64  .484  4.53  253 164  18   2   3 1099.3 1232  553 101  432  507 Sep 14 20.340
Rick Mahler         1979
-1991  96 111  .464  3.99  392 271  43   9   6 1951.3 2069  866 165  606  952 Apr 20 25.258
Dennis Martinez     1976
-1998 245 193  .559  3.70  692 562 122  30   8 3999.7 3897 1643 372 1165 2149 Sep 14 21.123
Steve McCatty       1977
-1985  63  63  .500  3.99  221 161  45   7   5 1188.3 1172  527 124  520  541 Sep 17 23.181
Scott McGregor      1976
-1988 138 108  .561  3.99  356 309  83  23   5 2140.7 2245  949 235  518  904 Sep 19 22.245
Larry McWilliams    1978
-1990  78  90  .464  3.99  370 224  34  13   3 1558.3 1548  690 137  542  940 Jul 17 24.157
Mike Morgan         1978
-2002 141 186  .431  4.23  597 411  46  10   8 2772.3 2943 1303 270  938 1403 Jun 11 18.246
Jack Morris         1977
-1994 254 186  .577  3.90  549 527 175  28   0 3824.0 3567 1657 389 1390 2478 Jul 26 22.071
Mike Norris         1975
-1990  58  59  .496  3.89  201 157  52   7   0 1124.3  972  486 108  499  636 Apr 10 20.022
David Palmer        1978
-1989  64  59  .520  3.78  212 176  10   4   2 1085.0 1036  456  78  434  748 Sep 09 20.325
Dan Petry           1979
-1991 125 104  .546  3.95  370 300  52  11   1 2080.3 1984  912 218  852 1063 Jul 08 20.237
Eric Rasmussen      1975
-1983  50  77  .394  3.85  238 144  27  12   5 1017.7 1033  435  87  309  489 Jul 21 23.121
Shane Rawley        1978
-1989 111 118  .485  4.02  469 230  41   7  40 1871.3 1934  836 153  734  991 Apr 06 22.253
Don Robinson        1978
-1992 109 106  .507  3.79  524 229  34   6  57 1958.3 1894  824 175  643 1251 Apr 10 20.306
Dave Rozema         1977
-1986  60  53  .531  3.47  248 132  36   7  17 1106.0 1125  426 113  258  448 Apr 11 20.249
Scott Sanderson     1978
-1996 163 143  .533  3.84  472 407  43  14   5 2561.7 2590 1093 297  625 1611 Aug 06 22.015
Dan Schatzeder      1977
-1991  69  68  .504  3.74  504 121  18   4  10 1317.0 1257  548 128  475  748 Sep 04 22.277
Mike Scott          1979
-1991 124 108  .534  3.54  347 319  45  22   3 2068.7 1858  813 173  627 1469 Apr 18 23.357
Bob Shirley         1977
-1987  67  94  .416  3.82  434 162  16   2  18 1432.0 1432  608 127  543  790 Apr 10 22.289
Lary Sorensen       1977
-1988  93 103  .474  4.15  346 235  69  10   6 1736.3 1960  800 147  402  569 Jun 07 21.246
Mario Soto          1977
-1988 100  92  .521  3.47  297 224  72  13   4 1730.3 1395  667 172  657 1449 Jul 21 21.009
Dave Stewart        1978
-1995 168 129  .566  3.95  523 348  55   9  19 2629.7 2499 1154 264 1034 1741 Sep 22 21.215
Dave Stieb          1979
-1998 176 137  .562  3.44  443 412 103  30   3 2895.3 2572 1106 225 1034 1669 Jun 29 21.342
Rick Sutcliffe      1976
-1994 171 139  .552  4.08  457 392  72  18   6 2697.7 2662 1223 236 1081 1679 Sep 29 20.100
Steve Trout         1978
-1989  88  92  .489  4.18  301 236  32   9   4 1501.3 1665  697  90  578  656 Jul 01 20.336
John Tudor          1979
-1990 117  72  .619  3.12  281 263  50  16   1 1797.0 1677  623 156  475  988 Aug 16 25.195
Pete Vuckovich      1975
-1986  93  69  .574  3.66  286 186  38   8  10 1455.3 1454  592 107  545  882 Aug 03 22.280
Bob Welch           1978
-1994 211 146  .591  3.47  506 462  61  28   8 3092.0 2894 1191 267 1034 1969 Jun 20 21.229
Ed Whitson          1977
-1991 126 123  .506  3.79  452 333  35  12   8 2240.3 2240  944 211  698 1266 Sep 04 22.108
Pat Zachry          1976
-1985  69  67  .507  3.52  293 154  29   7   3 1177.3 1147  461  88  495  669 Apr 11 23.353 


The same critera for 1965-1969 yields nearly the same number of players (56 in the 60s, 54 in the 70s), roughly the same debut age (22.0 in the 60s, 21.9 in the 70s), and if you remove Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, and Steve Carlton from the 60s set, they have about the same average number of games started (280.4 vs. 287.3).

I just find it statistically odd that despite having basically the same range of talent that produced the above HOMers (or soon to be HOMers) as well as Fergie Jenkins, Jim Palmer, and Tom Seaver, couldn't produce at least one or two outliers with obvious HOM credentials themselves. (I use the word obvious to separate these players from candidates like Stieb with his peak and Eckersley with his second career.)

Very curious.
   69. DL from MN Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:11 PM (#2384768)
Nolan Ryan active at the same time as... Robin Roberts
Roberts -> Satchel Paige
Paige -> Jack Quinn
Quinn -> Cy Young
Young -> Pud Galvin

I can't get back farther in less than 5 moves using only pitchers. Maybe someone else can.
   70. Paul Wendt Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2384782)
Joe Dimino:
Seriously - I've got Morris down in the low 90s among eligibles, in the same class with Jim Kaat, Ron Guidry, Hippo Vaughn, Lefty Gomez, Tom Zachary, Camilo Pasqual and Mickey Lolich.

All good pitchers. None HoMers. None close. For me, the most comparable pitcher is Kaat. Morris was slightly better, Kaat has about 2 extra seasons worth of filler (4518.3 tIP to 4118.0), but they are basically the same guy, when adjusted for era. Similar peaks too.


That's reasonable.
Except that Vaughn is in another class. He was a genuinely dominant pitcher with unfortunately short career.
Maybe same for Guidry.
Vaughn and maybe Guidry are in the class where the HOM project asks "what happened to him?"

stop now 
   71. JPWF13 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:31 PM (#2384794)
Raw ERA is a bigtime popular statistic, the batting average of pitchers as Wins is the runs batted in.


But Raw ERA is a much better stat than Battng average- it's more akin to raw OPS than to batting average
   72. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 09:12 PM (#2384843)
1) With Morris and Tanana both racking up lots of innings in Detroit, are we certain that Morris' innings totals are not in some way reflective of Anderson's managing style? Recall that while he was Cap'n Hook in the 1970s he became a slow hook as the closer idea gained prominence in the late 1970s. Is Morris' durability partly a usage issue? (no denying he could do it, but was he in a unique circumstance to do so?)


Tanana didn't actually rack on that many innings while with Detroit. His 6 biggest IP seasons are with either California or Texas. Granted, those California seasons were in the mid-'70s when everybody was racking up more IP, but the Texas season is in 1984. During his time in Detroit, Tanana only made the top ten in IP once and that was at 10th. Also, Jack Morris had more IP when he was with the Twins and Blue Jays in '91 and '92 than Tanana did while with the Tigers those same two years. So it wasn't just Sparky giving his starting pitchers extra rope.

Here's another way of looking at it.
AL Franchises with pitchers in the top five IP, 1980-89:
Toronto: 8 (Dave Stieb: 5)
Kansas City: 7
Detroit: 6 (Jack Morris: 5)
Oakland: 6
Boston: 5
Baltimore: 4
Minnesota: 3 1/3
Seattle: 3
New York: 2
Texas: 2
California: 1
Chicago: 1
Cleveland: 2/3

AL Franchise with pitchers in the top five CG: 1980-89
Oakland: 7
California: 6
Detroit: 6 (Jack Morris: 6)
Boston: 5
Milwaukee: 4
Texas: 4
Cleveland: 3 2/3
Kansas City: 3
New York: 3
Seattle: 3
Baltimore: 2
Chicago: 2
Kansas City: 2
Seattle: 2
Toronto: 2 (Dave Stieb: 2)
Minnesota: 1 1/3

(the fractions are due to Blyleven being traded mid-season)

The Detroit Tigers are among the league leaders in these categories but only because of Jack Morris. Without Morris, they'd have 1 entry in IP and none in CG. Even with Jack Morris in the line-up, Toronto and Kansas City had more IP leaders and Oakland the same, and in CG Oakland has more leaders and California the same. There's no basis for the idea that Jack Morris had an unfair advantage at accumulating IP, CG and W. If we weren't as worried about the decade of the '80s, we could include Morris' '90-'92 in which he was top five in CG three more times (twice with Detroit and once with a different manager in Minnesota) and top five in IP two more times (one each in Detroit and Minnesota). During his career, Morris accounts for 6 of Detroit's 7 top five finishes in IP and all 8 of their top five finishes in CG. That's not a usage issue. That's Morris.

As for Tanana, including his time in the '70s, he'll see teammates make the top five in IP and CG with almost every franchise. Ryan is there with him in California. Hough is there with him in Texas. Morris is there with him in Detroit. Tanana makes the top five in CG twice, but each time his teammate Nolan Ryan is in the top five as well. Tanana never makes the top five in IP. In fact, Tanana leads his own team in IP only four times- 1975, '78 and '80 with California and then '89 with the Tigers (when he beats Doyle Alexander by 2/3). In his other years, he finishes 2nd to Ryan, 2nd to Ryan, 2nd to Ryan, 6th in an injury-shortened '79, 2nd to Eckersley (in Boston), 2nd to Hough, 5th, 2nd to Hough, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 2nd to Morris, 3rd and 2nd to Bill Gulllickson. Frank Tanana was the one who was watching other pitchers rack up big innings under the same manager, not Jack Morris.

As Chris Cobb notes, his durability is real.
   73. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 09:27 PM (#2384850)
Another Chris Cobb quote:

However (and this is something Chris Fluit's analysis doesn't examine), Morris never had any _great_ seasons, because he never combined his exceptional durability with great effectiveness, as some of his contemporaries did.


That's right. Morris never had that one hugely outstanding season. He was never the best pitcher. That's why he never won a Cy Young. He was simply dependable year after year after year in a way that his contemporaries weren't.

Candeleria had 1 huge year: 171 ERA+ in 230.7 IP in 1977
Eckersley had 2 big years as a starter: 1978 and '79, 138 in 268.3, 148 in 246.7
Gooden had 1 huge year: 226 in 276.7 in 1985 but only one other year that's slightly better than Morris' best (137 in 218 in his rookie year of '84)
Guidry had 1 huge year: 208 in 273. 7 in 1978 plus two others better than Morris' best (140 in 210.7 and 148 in 236.3 in '77 and '79)
Hershiser had 1 huge year and 2 big years: 172 in 239.7, 148 in 267 and 148 in 256.7 in '85, '88 and '89
Key had 1 big year: 164 in 261 in 1987 plus 3 others better than Morris' best (141 in 212.7, 138 in 209.7, 141 in 236.7 in '85, '91 and '93)
Martinez had at least 1 year better than Morris' best: 151 in 222 in 1991
Reuschel had 1 big year: 1977 with 157 in 252 (plus a 158 in 194 IP and only 26 starts in '85)
Rogers has 2 big years: 152 in 277 and 144 in 219 in 1982 and '78
Saberhagen had 1 huge year: 178 in 262 in 1989 plus 1 other clearly better than Morris' best (145 in 235.3) which explains the two Cy Youngs
Stieb had 1 huge year: 171 in 265 in 1985 (yet he finished only 7th in Cy Young voting) plus 3 others clearly better than Morris' best (145 in 267, 142 in 278, 138 in 288 from '82-'84)
Tanana had 3 big years: 136, 137 and 154 in 257.3, 288.3 and 241.3 from '75 to '77
Viola had 3 big years: 161 in 251.7, 155 in 255.3 and 141 in 249.7 in '87, '88 and '90
Neither Hough nor Welch have a best season better than Morris

Morris is not a peak candidate. He's not going to do well in any system that relies on best 3 years.
   74. Chris Fluit Posted: May 30, 2007 at 09:29 PM (#2384855)
Chris Fluit #32
Being the winning-est pitcher of the '80s doesn't automatically turn Morris into Carlton or Seaver (the winning-est pitchers of the '70s with 178 each).

Paul Wendt #67:

Palmer enjoyed eight 20-win seasons (169) . . . and 186 wins during the 70s if I 'rithmetic correctly. Five more in the playoffs and world series.
. . . he wasn't really bad in his off years. The Orioles won both races, ironically, and he put up one of October's best 0-2 records in four starts/ 33 innings.


Yeah, I got that one wrong. Thanks, DCW3 for posting the chart.
   75. JPWF13 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 10:30 PM (#2384901)
That's right. Morris never had that one hugely outstanding season. He was never the best pitcher. That's why he never won a Cy Young. He was simply dependable year after year after year in a way that his contemporaries weren't.


He was dependable
but what his HOM case comes down to for me is this
1: His ERA+ was 105, his single season high was 133 (in 197ip), followed by a bunch of seasons in the 120s. That's almsot the definition of good not great, he's a pitching candidate the way Rusty Staub is a hitting candidate (except Rusty had a better peak).

2: Run support- Morris recieved 4.94 runs/game - league average support was 4.50- the overall park factor's for his home parks for his career was 101- so maybe league average for Morris career should be adjusted to 4.55

A league AVERAGE pitcher with 440 decisions and Morris' run support should have expected to go 238-202- Morris was 16 games better than that.
16 games (give or take a few) better than average over his career.
He's closer to Jeff Suppan (hey working on his 9th straight season with ERA+s higher than 97) than he is to a HOMer
   76. Chris Cobb Posted: May 31, 2007 at 12:04 AM (#2385091)
A league AVERAGE pitcher with 440 decisions and Morris' run support should have expected to go 238-202- Morris was 16 games better than that.
16 games (give or take a few) better than average over his career.


Yep. And his above average defensive support accounts for about half of that. My analysis, which looks at expected wins vs. actual wins and adjusts for fielding support based on team defensive efficiency, sees Morris as about 8 wins above what an average pitcher would have been, given the same offensive and defensive support Morris received.

And BP sees most of those 8 wins above as "luck." His DERA+ is 1.01 (4.50 / 4.45). His translated record is 243-221, and WARP has him at 9 more wins than should be expected from his component stats. Based on his DERA and normal run support alone, his translated record would be 234-230, 2 wins above .500.

Morris was certainly better than average effectiveness for much of his career, with some below average years (esp. at the end) pulling his career rates down, but he was never far above average in terms of effectiveness.
   77. TomH Posted: May 31, 2007 at 01:07 AM (#2385284)
right on, Miachael B, post 39!

a pennant is still a pennant. More post-season doesn't mean more credit - it means REDISTRIBUTING the credit - for Rivera, his regular season IPs mean a little less, but his October does mean some. For the Ernie Bankses of the world, be they 1940 or 2005 versions, they get 100% of their credit for thier Apr-Sep work.
   78. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 31, 2007 at 04:38 AM (#2385670)
"2) Were Morris' defenses special in any way that might under or over express his ERA?"


Yes. A big, whopping yes. I get Morris' career defensive adjustment at .15, which is pretty huge. It wasn't Jim Palmer huge, but he pitched in front of generally excellent defenses. Why else was Tom Brookens playing 3B? He sure couldn't hit. He had Chet Lemon in CF. Lance Parrish behind the plate. Trammell and Whitaker weren't bad. Most of the other Tiger pitchers were nothing special, guys like Dan Petry, Milt Wilcox, the older Tanana, etc.. Yet they were able to do pretty well also.

Some pitchers with a similar defensive support adjustment to Morris . . . Ed Cicotte, Catfish Hunter, Dennis Leonard, Billy Pierce, Wilbur Cooper, Joe McGinnity, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Chief Bender, Carl Hubbell, Lefty Gomez. Generally all pitchers that pitched for very good teams throughout their careers.

This doesn't account for the fact that Morris also pitched in an inferior league with the early part of his career in the expansion league. Morris' 106 ERA+ most definitely overstates his effectiveness.
   79. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 31, 2007 at 04:39 AM (#2385671)
Also note most of those pitchers pitched for good teams in an era where defense was more important - compared to his contemporaries, Morris had a huge defensive support edge.
   80. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 31, 2007 at 04:42 AM (#2385672)
Morris isn't anything like one of the top 50 pitchers ever. You can't get him in the top 125 if you include pitchers who retired after 1994 (the year that are now eligible), relievers or pitchers before 1893. He's barely in the top 100 if you only include starters post-1893 through retired in 1994.
   81. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 31, 2007 at 04:52 AM (#2385681)
Adjusting for defense (and many other things, like bullpen support, etc.), I get Morris' best DRA+ at 126 in 1979 (in only 204 tIP). He was 123-123-124 from 1985-87 (in 261-279-265 tIP). He threw a lot of innings those years, but he didn't throw A LOT of innings, if you know what I mean. He was among the league leaders, he wasn't the pace-setter or anything, like a true work-horse, Robin Roberts, Warren Spahn or anything, even after adjusting for era norms.

The years he did throw a ton of innings (1981-83), his DRA+ were 113-92-106.

I stand by my assessment that, after adjusting for era, he's Jim Kaat, with 2 fewer seasons. The only reason he stands out is because he wasn't competing against the same caliber of pitcher Kaat was. That doesn't make Morris a great pitcher. It just means Kaat pitched in an era that was loaded, and Morris pitched in an era that wasn't. All things equal, I'd take Kaat, and as I've said in the past, I can see about 30 pitchers I'd vote for before Kaat.

Tommy John, for example, was a MUCH better pitcher than Morris. His DRA+ is 106 vs. 100. He threw 630 more tIP. His peak was nearly as high. Heck, I'll take John's 1979 over Morris' 1986.
   82. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 31, 2007 at 04:57 AM (#2385684)
kthejoker in #68, I fixed your table. Use [] instead of <>
   83. DL from MN Posted: May 31, 2007 at 01:23 PM (#2385864)
Pitcher Result IP H R ER BB SO HR
Suppan W(1-0) 8 3 0 0 1 4 0

Morris didn't hit a HR in his big postseason game.
   84. Paul Wendt Posted: May 31, 2007 at 09:35 PM (#2386509)
10. TomH Posted: May 29, 2007 at 10:11 AM (#2382385)
What if Lonnie Smith knows how to run the bases and the Braves win Game 7 of the World Series? Jack Morris' post-season record falls from 'superhero' to a somewhat tarnished 6-5.

Lonnie Smith with baseball smarts probably isn't available to the Braves . . . or the Royals? . . . or the Cardinals?


Dag Nabbiskjold #44
Dag
<i>Among other things, Jack Morris was the best starting pitcher to ever play for Sparky Anderson. The prematurely aged skipper worked his magic with hitters

The Big Red Machine had some good relief pitching, great relief pitching at its peak.

and his teams were primarily noted for their power.

It's rather fitting that a not tremendously impressive workhorse like Morris would be Anderson's best ever pitcher. I have to think that, with the possible exception of Bucky Harris, every other manager who last 20+ years had at least one more talented ace than Anderson.


I see Ned Hanlon managed only 19 seasons --although 20 pennant races thanks to the 1892 split.

Dag's point isn't really "most talented", I know. Taking that at face value we would ask whether talent is what Wayne Simpson, Gary Nolan, and Don Gullett lacked.
   85. Paul Wendt Posted: May 31, 2007 at 09:47 PM (#2386513)
Eric Chalek
3) Is SP talent in the 1980s roughly analagous to 1B or C in the deadball era? If so, what's that mean?

No, you first say what it means !


24. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2007 at 01:56 PM (#2382646)
I personally thought Jack Morris shoulda been the MVP in 1984. He kinda gave the Tigers that swagger early on, and there was that no-hitter. To some degree that's because there's no great MVP candidate that year, so I figure like the actual voters did, settle for one Tiger or another, and I woulda settled on Jack. That wouldn't change his case here much, but it probably woulda changed his HoF case.

Why choose Morris over teammate Dan Petry? The entire case seems to be swagger.
Petry finished 5th and Morris 7th for the Cy Young Award.
For Morris it was his low innings and complete games marks in eight seasons, 1980-87, and his 6th best ERA+ in that span. He was the ace of the staff but he didn't have the best season (unless you include the playoffs, when Petry pitched poorly and much-maligned Milt Wilcox picked up the slack).

--
Gleaning & inferring from the encyclopedia:

High school pitcher Dan Petry and college pitcher Jack Morris were drafted by Detroit in the 4th and 5th rounds, June 1976, ages 17.7 and 21.1 year.months.
Six baseball seasons later, after the strike season, Petry had about major league 400 innings and Morris about 800, Petry with a strikeout rate slightly higher than Morris's 1/2 per inning.

In the next four seasons, through 1985,
Morris 1060ip 144gs 59cg 9sho 108hr 38uer 72-51 (31- decisions) OPS+ 111 age 30.5
Petry_ _980ip 142gs 32cg 5sho _97hr 39uer 67-42 (27+ decisions) OPS+ 117 age 26.11
(By the 9 innings rules of thumb, expectation is 29 decisions per year for Morris, 27 for Petry.)
   86. Paul Wendt Posted: May 31, 2007 at 09:50 PM (#2386515)
Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez pitched 140 innings each, OPS+ 204 and 133 (sum 280 innings at 160). W-L 9-3 and 10-1.
Morris 240 inn at 109
Petry_ 233 inn at 121
   87. Paul Wendt Posted: May 31, 2007 at 10:21 PM (#2386536)
Miserlou #43
Bender
Bunning
Chesbro
Coveleski
Gomez
Haines
Hoyt
Hunter
Lemon
Marquard
Pennock
Willis

Joe Fan would recognize most of these guys as mistakes


Joe is impressed by eleven straight seasons with ERA under 3.00, only once above the 2.50s.
Three World Series under 2.00 (seven starts, 61.7 innings, ERA ~1.30).
That is charles Chief Bender.

If Joe Six-Pack will sit down with you and accept education on ERA in context, then Coveleski looks awfully good.

Bender's big shortfall is durability. He faced 1000 batters only in his rookie year, under his only 140-game schedule, at age 19. (Has anyone since Bender achieved career highs in starts, innings, and batters faced as a teenager?)
Eddie Plank played two earlier seasons with the Athletics, 1901-1902, then the same 12 seasons as Bender. He faced 1000 batters ten times including four seasons at about 1400 batters.
Rube Waddell topped 1000 in all six seasons, total more than 7500 batters/ 1250 per season.
Jack Coombs didn't last long but he faced about 1400 batters back-to-back in 1910-1911, then 1000+ in 1912.
   88. Paul Wendt Posted: May 31, 2007 at 10:27 PM (#2386540)
Bender reportedly played for Dickinson College in 1902, perhaps following the Carlisle Indian School?

Plank, Gettysburg College (this one's for you El Chaleeko)

Coombs, Colby College

George Earnshaw, Swarthmore College (twenty years later)

All Mackmen.
How many star pitchers come out of the liberal arts colleges of the Northeast today?
   89. OCF Posted: May 31, 2007 at 10:32 PM (#2386546)
(Has anyone since Bender achieved career highs in starts, innings, and batters faced as a teenager?)

OK, so Dwight Gooden was 20.
   90. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 01, 2007 at 01:30 PM (#2387163)
Plank, Gettysburg College (this one's for you El Chaleeko)


[Tips cap.]
   91. Paul Wendt Posted: June 01, 2007 at 06:34 PM (#2387408)
89. OCF Posted: May 31, 2007 at 06:32 PM (#2386546)
(Has anyone since Bender achieved career highs in starts, innings, and batters faced as a teenager?)

OK, so Dwight Gooden was 20.


He was, and it was a strikingly different career in other respects, a polar opposite in some respects.

Gooden worked more than 90% of the innings, more than 95% of the batters in the next season. On the whole career, his batter workload did not diminish with his innings workload because he became much less effective.

Bender worked 90% of his rookie year innings only with the help of a 10% increase in the schedule. On the other hand, his batter workload as a debutante stand out so much against the rest of his career partly because he became much more effective.

(At baseball-reference the BFP series is complete for Eddie Plank but two of the same seasons are missing for his teammate Charles Albert. Does anyone here know about that?)

polar opposite? Gooden at 19 joined a last-place team. Bender joined the champion team with Plank and Rube Waddell in place and they served as 6/7 of a 3.5 man staff of starting pitchers.

Also in place: Andy Coakley, College of the Holy Cross --another two cents on that collegiate theme.
   92. DL from MN Posted: June 01, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2387431)
Kevin Slowey - Winthrop. It's East but not Northeast and we'll have to wait and see how good he is.

Frank Viola - St. Johns
Ron Darling - Yale
   93. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 01, 2007 at 07:54 PM (#2387466)
It's worth noting that Gettysburg Eddie's status as a student is, to my knowledge, unconfirmed. I'm not sure whether there's more recent research, but a decade ago I read that he was basically a townie ringer. Does anyone know if he actually matriculated?
   94. Paul Wendt Posted: June 01, 2007 at 09:15 PM (#2387606)
The data available via BB-Ref --its own collegiate baseball pages and the linked SABR committee pages-- is ambiguous. BB-Ref labels the last column "Years Attnd" but it might be years played. The corresponding column, I think, on the committee pages is labeled "Dates Played at College" and the main list of major leaguers is sometimes followed by a tiny list of those who attended but didn't play baseball. Anyway, there was a 21st century change in focus of the project, from college attendance to collegiate baseball play. I'm not sure there is any activity focusing on attendance.

Years Attnd/Dates Played is 1900-1901 for Plank. I have supposed that he attended and graduated, inferred from his age. He was an old 24 during the spring 1900 baseball season.

Coakley played for Holy Cross, listed 1901-1903, and use a false name as a pro in 1902.
   95. The Wilpons Must Go (Tom D) Posted: June 04, 2007 at 09:06 PM (#2392344)
The 1950’s were a very tough decade for the birth of great pitchers, which is kind of funny because I remember there being concern when I was a kid (early 70’s) that the little leagues (of which these pitchers were the first products) were turning all of the most athletic kids into pitchers. If anyone would anyone has a thesis or speculation on this, I would be interested in reading it.
   96. JPWF13 Posted: June 04, 2007 at 10:39 PM (#2392405)
that the little leagues (of which these pitchers were the first products) were turning all of the most athletic kids into pitchers.


I was in the Little League in the 70s- one of my coaches was an ex- minor league pitcher- he said that little league pitchers never became major league pitchers- because some "idiot" [his word] would teach a 13 year old to throw a curve ball and the kid would blow his elbow out before he could drink (this was when drinking age was 18)...

He claimed that all major league pitchers were either College pitchers or HS SSs or Catchers converted at 18 into pitching...

I think there is/was some kernal or truth in that observation
   97. OCF Posted: June 04, 2007 at 11:12 PM (#2392420)
The most athletic kids in LL play SS when they're not pitching, and they play every game, and they bat either leadoff or cleanup. The neighboring Little League to the one my kids were involved with rode the amazing pitching skills of Sean Burroughs to two consecutive championships. OK, Burroughs actually batted 2nd, but he was the best hitter on the team. The only game I saw live was one in which Burroughs played SS (with an arm to terrify any first baseman). I never thought he would become a major league pitcher, and indeed, his pitching days were over before he reached high school. I though he had a chance to be a major league hitter - I'll let you be the judge of how that worked out.
   98. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2007 at 02:50 PM (#2393564)
My nephew, just turned 13, has played six or eight years in a local youth league. Coach pitch for a while, maybe thru age 8. Then staff pitching such as two innings for each of three pitchers. Last spring he told me that five pitchers (of about eight on the team) used knuckleballs. He didn't use it in games because his didn't do anything (the world's biggest slowball); the others did pitch some knuckleballs in games and their knuckleballs all did something, he told me.
(James and his cousin like knuckleballs partly because Tim Wakefield pitched their first major league game, on a visit to Boston and seats not far behind the third base dugout.)

Anyway, he was radically up and down in relative skills as the age-groups changed, from say 7-8 to 9-10 to 11-12. When he first pitched, he was dominating, like six batters four strikeouts, but it's likely he matched it at bat, 0-3 with two strikeouts. It was roughly the same two years later, when again young in the age group: Aurelio Rodriguez - Hank Aguirre, P-3B.

Throwing with speed and accuracy is so specific, and sufficient to dominate as a kid pitcher, that this should be no surprise, it seems to me. I wonder whether Little League, traditionally if no longer today, with two pitchers working complete games, simply fails to discover or develop pitching skill.

And Jack Morris in '65, '66, '67?
I'll bet he didn't have a knuckleball.
   99. TomH Posted: June 05, 2007 at 03:41 PM (#2393618)
[non-HoM post]
Kids all fooling with knucklers? That strikes me as odd; in my limited little league coaching, I never saw that. Maybe it is a local Wakefield-wanna-be syndrome. I never remember facing anything but fastballs and a teensy change or curve up thru 12 yrs old when I quit out of a case of realism.

I did use a knuckleball (well, a non-spinning pitch, tossed purely with the palm) for a few years in slow-pitch softball. When the wind was blowing hard straight out, begging guys to launch hits a long way, I had success getting the big ball to move all over as it came into the wind. Not much control at all, but if I got ahead in the count, it caused some pop-ups and anguished hitters.
   100. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2007 at 04:01 PM (#2393645)
[non-HOM]
The staff fooling with knucklers (at least 2005/2006) is in extreme northwest Delaware, north of Newark.
The cousin is in northwest suburban Washington DC. He saw a second game at Fenway Park on a later visit, Wakefield again --the Josh Bard game, where catcher Bard lost his job and the Red Sox reacquired Doug Mirabelli. Maybe they are exporting knucklemania!

They have an uncle who might give them copies of The Knucklebook. With book in progress, author Dave Clark twice presented on knuckleball pitching and pitchers at Southern New England Chapter SABR meetings. Coordinator Len Levin says that he will be there again --next Saturday morning/afternoon, McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket RI.
(Carfree in Boston, I'll be there if I can get there. Why does our commuter rail run a Red Sox train inbound, no Pawsox train outbound?)
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