Thing is, I saw Jack Morris pitch, and he was great. Great enough for the Hall of Fame? All I know is there are less great players in there.
It’s one reason I don’t use my Hall of Fame ballot. Statistics, even the more contrived ones, have value. Greatness, though, is a naked-eye assessment. If they’re going to argue that Morris or even Curt Schilling are less significant than guys already in there, guys like Bert Blyleven, then they ought to call the place the Baseball Bureau of Statistics. Because to the naked eye, it’s absurd.
Here’s another thing that bothers me: The valuation of regular-season statistics over postseason ones. Some of the game’s more selfish players have recorded some gaudy regular-season statistics. Others have built their impressive résumé playing for poor teams in pressureless environments. Statistics built in the AL Central over the last two decades are not equal to statistics built in the AL East.
That’s a naked-eye assessment. I’d probably put Morris into the Hall too, probably for the same reason stat mavens would throw him out. He won more games than anyone in the 1980s, but many, including our own David Murphy, have compellingly argued that a pitcher’s won-lost record is among baseball’s greatest irrelevancies.
Murphy has mentioned Cliff Lee’s 2012 season as recent evidence of this. There is no doubt that Lee deserved better. But the naked eye, the one that watched the season in its entirety, recalls at least a handful of times when he received substantial leads and could not hold them. Morris would say, I suppose, that in those cases, he failed to pitch to the scoreboard.
Clearly, statistics are not irrelevant. But they should be used to support the naked eye, not create an alternate reality.
Posted: February 07, 2013 at 08:46 AM | 61 comment(s)
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