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Monday, October 15, 2012

Elliott: Time for a happy dance to the Hall of Fame for Jack Morris

Morris Dancing to Contact.

Later I wound up in the hallway with Morris (“Aha! Now is the chance to get in a good question,” I recall thinking.)

So, I asked Morris if he pitched the two innings after the rain to get his earned-run average under 4.00.

He looked at me as if I had three heads, nine eyes and loop earrings hanging from each ear lobe.

He said: “You’ve seen me pitch long enough to know that ERA is not a big deal to me, I care about wins. We won, next question.”

Following a dopey question like that I was done.

...Baseballreference.com lists six Hall of Famers—Bob Gibson, Red Ruffing, Amos Rusie, Burleigh Grimes, Bob Feller and Jim Bunning—among the top 10 pitchers whose careers were comparable to Morris’.

It’s time for Morris to dance ... a dance of celebration.

Repoz Posted: October 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM | 70 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4272007)

Pass.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:43 PM (#4272025)
Pro Morris Hof arguments, where flat earthers go to continue their ignorance.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM (#4272037)
Of course most similar, with a not very high sim score of 903, is Dennis Martinez. Bob Gibson is somehow #2 -- they are similar in wins and nothing else. Followed by Tiant, Moyer, Ruffing, Rusie and Chuck Finley.

You can make a case that Morris is similar to some HoFers from before WW2 like Ruffing and Grimes. Ruffing has an argument for luckiest man who ever lived -- he went 39-96 (39-96!) with the Red Sox to start his career, with a 92 ERA+. He got traded to the Yanks (why did they want him?) where he went 231-124 with a very solid 119 ERA+. If he'd gotten traded to the Browns or the Senators, he probably ends up with one of the worst W-L records of all-time. He got a young start and would have had a real shot at 300 losses. Although if he didn't miss two seasons for the war, he might well have made 300 so the devil took a small slice as is his due.

But compared to the more contemporary sims and at best you can make a case he's like Bunning -- who did have to wait for the VC but came very close as Morris obviously will if he doesn't make it. But it's also true that if he's any better than Dennis Martinez, it is by the slimmest of margins (and one Game 7).
   4. bobm Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:22 PM (#4272139)
[3] You can make a case that Morris is similar to some HoFers from before WW2 like Ruffing and Grimes. Ruffing has an argument for luckiest man who ever lived -- he went 39-96 (39-96!) with the Red Sox to start his career, with a 92 ERA+. He got traded to the Yanks (why did they want him?) where he went 231-124 with a very solid 119 ERA+.

From the SABR Baseball Biography of Ruffing:

When Ruffing was 18, Bennett arranged his first professional contract, with Danville, Illinois, just 140 miles from home in the Class B Three-I League. After one season in Danville, he was sold to the Boston Red Sox. The 19-year-old was hit hard in six appearances and went back to the minors in July 1924. When Boston recalled him in September, he was in the big leagues to stay.

Ruffing joined the Red Sox just as the club plunged into the bleakest period in its history. Boston finished last in each of his five full seasons, losing more than 100 games three times. Sportswriter Stanley Frank wrote that owner Bob Quinn "was operating the Red Sox on a frazzled shoestring."i Quinn’s predecessor, Harry Frazee, had traded or sold most of the team’s best players. Several, including that Ruth kid, went to the Yankees.

Although Ruffing was the Red Sox’s top pitcher, he showed no sign of greatness. Today he would be tagged with the backhanded compliment "inning eater." Relying primarily on a whistling fastball, he posted a better-than-average ERA only once, and then just barely better. His 39 victories and 96 losses gave him a .289 winning percentage, even worse than his team’s sorry .344. After he batted .314 in 1928 while losing a league-leading 25 games, the Sox considered shifting him to the outfield, but found that his mangled foot slowed him down too much.

Owner Quinn faced one of his frequent financial crises in May 1930. Red Sox scout Pat Monahan recalled, "He was real worried. He said he’d have to raise $67,000 in 48 hours to make a payment. ‘If I don’t make it, Pat, they’ll foreclose. I know they will.’" Quinn swapped the 25-year-old Ruffing to the Yankees for backup outfielder Cedric Durst plus $50,000 and, according to Monahan, an additional $50,000 loan from Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert.ii The trade rated only a one-inch story in the New York Times, describing Ruffing as "an in-and-outer."iii

The deal made Ruffing’s career. The turnaround in his fortunes began the first time he took the mound for New York, when Babe Ruth slammed a first-inning home run. Ruffing gave up six runs to the Tigers, but knocked in the deciding runs himself with a single and two RBI. Late in the season he won six straight decisions. He sealed his place on the team with a two-hit shutout over the pennant-bound Philadelphia Athletics in September. He finished 1930 with a 15-5 record for the Yankees; his 4.14 ERA was better than average in the Year of the Hitter. He also batted a career-high .364 with four homers.

Bob Shawkey, a former pitcher who managed the Yankees in 1930, said he had noticed that Ruffing could dominate for four or five innings while he was with the Red Sox, but tired and lost his stuff because he was "pitching all with his arm." Shawkey revamped the pitcher’s delivery.iv That wasn’t the only reason for the dramatic improvement; Joe McCarthy took over as manager the next year, and McCarthy consistently fielded strong defensive teams—a pitcher’s best friend.

When Ruffing turned into a star in New York, some writers questioned whether he had been giving his best effort to the Red Sox. But he remembered, "We had kids just out of college, Class D players. Nobody could win with them."v A young man in his early twenties could easily have become demoralized pitching for a hopeless team, then snapped out of it when he found himself backed by a lineup that included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Twenty-two-year-old Lefty Gomez established himself at the front of the Yankees rotation in 1932 as McCarthy began retooling the aging club. With young catcher Bill Dickey, shortstop Frank Crosetti, and speedy outfielder Ben Chapman in the lineup, the Yankees romped to their first pennant in four years. Gomez won 24 games and Ruffing 18, with a 3.09 ERA, second-best in the AL. He led the league with 190 strikeouts.

Ruffing and Gomez gave the Yankees a pair of aces for a decade. Gomez, three years younger, was the better pitcher when healthy. He led the league in ERA twice and in strikeouts and shutouts three times, but suffered recurring bouts of arm trouble. Ruffing usually racked up more innings and complete games; he completed 62 percent of his career starts, while the average AL pitcher finished less than half. [Emphasis added]


http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/7111866b
   5. DanG Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4272145)
10 closest comps. Pitchers in past hundred years within 4 ERA+ and 30 wins of Morris:

Rk            Player ERA+   W   L  WAR     IP From   To
1        Jamie Moyer  104 269 209 44.8 4074.0 1986 2012
2      Sad Sam Jones  104 229 217 34.5 3883.0 1914 1935
3     Catfish Hunter  104 224 166 32.1 3449.1 1965 1979 H
'4       Jack Morris  105 254 186 39.3 3824.0 1977 1994'
5       Frank Tanana  106 240 236 52.6 4188.1 1973 1993
6       Herb Pennock  106 241 162 38.8 3571.2 1912 1934 H
7    Dennis Martinez  106 245 193 45.1 3999.2 1976 1998
8           Jim Kaat  108 283 237 40.4 4530.1 1959 1983
9    Burleigh Grimes  108 270 212 44.2 4180.0 1916 1934 H
10       David Wells  108 239 157 49.4 3439.0 1987 2007
11       Red Ruffing  109 273 225 48.6 4344.0 1924 1947 H 
   6. DanG Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4272162)
8 Hall candidates with better career numbers than Morris, minimum 110 ERA+ and 210 wins

Rk          Player ERA+   W   L  WAR     IP From   To
1    Jerry Koosman  110 222 209 53.1 3839.1 1967 1985
2       Tommy John  111 288 231 56.9 4710.1 1963 1989
3       Mel Harder  113 223 186 42.2 3426.1 1928 1947
4       Jack Quinn  114 247 218 53.5 3920.1 1909 1933
5    Rick Reuschel  114 214 191 64.6 3548.1 1972 1991
6       Luis Tiant  114 229 172 61.8 3486.1 1964 1982
7    Wilbur Cooper  116 216 178 47.2 3480.0 1912 1926
8     Billy Pierce  119 211 169 50.0 3306.2 1945 1964 
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4272165)
the Red Sox just as the club plunged into the bleakest period in its history.

Huh, I didn't realise Ruffing was on the roster in 2012...
   8. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:00 AM (#4272172)
Interesting list, Dan. I'm just curious, does anyone here believe that Catfish Hunter is a deserving Hall of Famer? Or at least more deserving than Jack Morris?

I always thought he was a very questionable inductee. He had three or four HOF-caliber years and a HOF-caliber nickname, but that's about it.

If you forced me to choose between Hunter or Morris for the Hall of Fame, I'd probably take Morris. Catfish had a better peak, but his peak wasn't that long and he basically doesn't have anything else. Didn't strike out many, gave up a ton of home runs, career over at 33, good-not-great postseason numbers (great with the A's, lousy with the Yankees).

(On a similar note, thanks largely to some bad games with the Blue Jays, ice-in-his-veins all-time postseason ace Jack Morris has a 3.80 career ERA in the postseason.)
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4272178)
Interesting list, Dan. I'm just curious, does anyone here believe that Catfish Hunter is a deserving Hall of Famer? Or at least more deserving than Jack Morris?


I don't know if he is deserving, but do think he is more deserving than Morris. Catfish had a couple of Cy Young quality seasons, Morris never did.
   10. TR_Sullivan Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4272189)
I am a huge Catfish Hunter supporter but seem to be among the minority in this group.
   11. Accent Shallow Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4272191)
I didn't read the article, and assume the title is merely the writer being nonsensical, rather than just choosing to go with "Jack Morris deserves HoF induction" or something more appropriate.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:38 AM (#4272193)
As a kid (the A's have always been my AL team) and when he came up for election, I just assumed Hunter was a HoFer and the voters pretty clearly agreed. In retrospect, no. Between him and Morris I'd go Catfish -- it's close but agree with cfb in that Hunter had some years of truly top pitching so at least I can kinda talk myself into the idea that he was great at least a couple of seasons. But they are quite similar on the HoF stats, Morris has a better set of sim-score comps and Hunter might have pitched for better teams overall.

Both are clearly short of Bunning IMO and I thought that Bunning was a stretch even before I knew Bunning was a crackpot. He had a very solid 11 years of nearly 3000 IP, 126 ERA+ and near 600 WP. He also struck out a lot for his time and had a K/BB over 3. He gets "screwed" in the CYA because of the voting rules -- only his last good season was a year in which they voted in each league and they were one name per ballot for his entire good run. Under more recent voting rules, I'm sure he'd have done better than that one 2nd place finish (which is a single 1st place vote).

But I am somewhat small hall -- i.e. my personal HoF applies something closer to the "writer standards" -- and I am possibly extra tough on pitchers. I don't know why I am more impressed by peak-only hitters than I am by peak-only pitchers, probably due to coming of baseball age in the 70s, but I am. Morris doesn't come close to qualifying for me under either peak or career, but I probably don't give Bunning (or Stieb or Saberhagen) his due. Is Bunning in the HoM?
   13. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 16, 2012 at 01:15 AM (#4272203)
Is Bunning in the HoM?


Elected in his first year of eligibility (though not overwhelmingly).
   14. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:48 AM (#4272207)
As a kid (the A's have always been my AL team) and when he came up for election, I just assumed Hunter was a HoFer and the voters pretty clearly agreed.

A related question:

Hunter retired in 1979, and made the HOF in 1987 in just his third year of eligibility. Morris retired in 1994 and is entering his 14th year of eligibility and obviously hasn't gotten in yet.

If the retirement dates were flipped, but the numbers were the same, would Morris already be in the HOF and would Catfish still be waiting to get in? In other words, would the voters of the mid-'80s have appreciated Jack Morris' career more than the voters of the 2000s? And would today's voters have been as impressed with Catfish as those '80s voters?
   15.   Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:06 AM (#4272210)
He is a first-ballot 100% member of the baseball myth hall of fame.
   16. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:07 AM (#4272211)
It looks like Catfish hit a sort of "sweet spot" in the voting. The last pitchers to be elected by the BBWAA before him were Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Don Drysdale (1984), Juan Marichal (1983) and Bob Gibson (1981), then way back to Bob Lemon and Robin Roberts in 1976. I think all of those guys were deserving, but maybe only Gibson is thought of as an "inner circle" Hall of Famer (and a lot of people would call him overrated).

Meanwhile, between Catfish Hunter's induction and Jack Morris' first year of eligibility, we saw:

1990 - Jim Palmer
1991 - Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins
1992 - Tom Seaver, Rollie Fingers
1994 - Steve Carlton
1997 - Phil Niekro
1998 - Don Sutton
1999 - Nolan Ryan

Setting aside the reliever, all of those guys were much more deserving than Jack Morris. But all of them were also more deserving than Catfish Hunter (unless you heavily weigh peak and think he was better than Sutton).

So Morris was getting compared to a much stronger HOF population, and he also came on the ballot right after a decade that inducted 9 pitchers, with Seaver, Carlton, Palmer and (in the popular view) Ryan among the all-time elites. Plus by the year 2000 sabermetrics was starting to go mainstream and intelligent people were devaluing pitcher wins as a stat.
   17. Russ Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:55 AM (#4272219)

But I am somewhat small hall -- i.e. my personal HoF applies something closer to the "writer standards" -- and I am possibly extra tough on pitchers. I don't know why I am more impressed by peak-only hitters than I am by peak-only pitchers, probably due to coming of baseball age in the 70s, but I am. Morris doesn't come close to qualifying for me under either peak or career, but I probably don't give Bunning (or Stieb or Saberhagen) his due. Is Bunning in the HoM?


I think it's quite reasonable to be more impressed by peak only hitters, as starting pitchers are much more variable, so it's much easier for them to have a high peak relative to peers than hitters. Starters have only played 35-40 games per year over the last 50 years or so. That's a very small sample size, so it's clear you should be able to have a higher peak as a pitcher than hitter (unless you normalize by variance, but OPS+ only normalizes by mean, not variance).
   18. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 16, 2012 at 08:40 AM (#4272248)
In the approach that I use for starting pitcher comparison, which makes heavy use of how pitchers did relative to their peers given their levels of run support, Hunter, Blyleven, and Morris all rank near the bottom of the list of HOF candidates from the 70s and 80s; they are much more like each other than they are the guys who sailed into the HoF. None was significantly better than a typical starting pitcher given the run support they received, and all were worse than the field of HoF candidates from their era. (Nolan Ryan, on the other hand, did perform significantly better than the run support he got.)

Hunter's in the Hall largely because his best years coincided with a period in which starting pitcher innings were actually climbing, in part because the AL introduced the DH and in part because it was still a relatively low-scoring era. Both trends reversed abruptly around 1976.

-- MWE
   19. BDC Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:37 AM (#4272264)
Yet another list for Morris, centered on him in terms of ERA+ and career starts, ranked by Wins:

Player              W  GS ERAW-L%     IP
Red Ruffing       273 538  109 .548 4344.0
Burleigh Grimes   270 497  108 .560 4180.0
Jack Morris       254 527  105 .577 3824.0
Dennis Martinez   245 562  106 .559 3999.2
Jack Powell       245 516  106 .491 4389.0
David Wells       239 489  108 .604 3439.0
Sad Sam Jones     229 487  104 .513 3883.0
Jerry Koosman     222 527  110 .515 3839.1
Joe Niekro        221 500   98 .520 3584.1
Jerry Reuss       220 547  100 .535 3669.2
Mickey Lolich     217 496  104 .532 3638.1
Bob Friend        197 497  107 .461 3611.0
Claude Osteen     196 488  104 .501 3460.2 


Good pitchers all. Interesting happenstance that the two HOFers have a few more wins than Morris and a few more IP. Ruffing and Grimes seem to set a previous low-water-mark for pitchers who just weren't that great, in terms of what they needed to accumulate for election. (And as noted, the shape of Ruffing's career makes him an oddity even in this group.)
   20. DanG Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4272271)
Five-year primes:

Player          WAR   W  L ERAOPS+     IP From   To   Age  GS W-L%  ERA HR/9  H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB  WHIP
Catfish Hunter 23.4 111 49  127   77 1471.2 1971 1975 25
-29 190 .694 2.65 0.84 7.11 2.13 4.99  2.34 1.027
Jack Morris    20.2  94 54  120   82 1324.0 1983 1987 28
-32 176 .635 3.38 1.02 7.79 3.09 6.81  2.20 1.209 
   21. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4272291)
I think it's quite reasonable to be more impressed by peak only hitters, as starting pitchers are much more variable, so it's much easier for them to have a high peak relative to peers than hitters. Starters have only played 35-40 games per year over the last 50 years or so.

Actually for the last hundred years, if you look at the league leaders in games started.

Phil Niekro, Wilbur Wood and Mickey Lolich had seasons of more than 42 games started during the 1970s. Before them, the last pitcher to start more than 42 games was George Uhle in 1923. Over 40 games doesn't become common until over a hundred years ago.

Of course now the absolute maximum a starter will start is 35, whereas 50 to 80 years ago it was 42.
   22. GuyM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4272307)
Hunter, Blyleven, and Morris all rank near the bottom of the list of HOF candidates from the 70s and 80s; they are much more like each other than they are the guys who sailed into the HoF. None was significantly better than a typical starting pitcher given the run support they received,

This statement cannot possibly be true. Please show your work.
   23. DanG Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4272322)
Most seasons 34+ GS since 1977:

Rk                Yrs From   To   Age
1     Greg Maddux  15 1988 2007 22
-41
2     Jack Morris  11 1980 1992 25
-37
3     Frank Viola  10 1983 1992 23
-32
4     Tom Glavine   9 1988 2007 22
-41
5   Randy Johnson   8 1993 2005 29
-41
6     John Smoltz   7 1990 2006 23
-39 
   24. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4272356)
This statement cannot possibly be true. Please show your work.


I'm curious too. Is this something you've written an article on and could link to?

Just with a quick check on BB-ref I see Blyleven had slightly worse run support than his leagues, he got 4.2 runs per game. Look at the AL league averages for 1970-1992, except for 1978-80 when he was in the NL, league average run support was 4.27 per game. So an average pitcher in his decisions maybe goes 267-270, putting Bert 20 wins above average.

That's a lot less than BB-ref, which has him at +52 wins above average and +91 WAR. If that is all Bert being unclutch, then it knocks his WAR down to +59, still a pretty good candidate. But I don't know how much of the W-L shortfall is on Bert, or is the fault of his bullpens. Bert was so good for so long though that it seems academic. The worst interpretation of him is a lowest tier HOF starter, the best interpretation puts him in the second tier of all-time greats, below guys like Johnson/Clemens/Young/Seaver but right there with Carlton, Ryan, and Perry.
   25. GregD Posted: October 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4272367)
That's a lot less than BB-ref, which has him at +52 wins above average and +91 WAR. If that is all Bert being unclutch, then it knocks his WAR down to +59, still a pretty good candidate. But I don't know how much of the W-L shortfall is on Bert, or is the fault of his bullpens. Bert was so good for so long though that it seems academic. The worst interpretation of him is a lowest tier HOF starter, the best interpretation puts him in the second tier of all-time greats, below guys like Johnson/Clemens/Young/Seaver but right there with Carlton, Ryan, and Perry.
Carlton is a funny case. He doesn't indeed seem to be there with Clemens and Seaver and Maddux among recent guys, but also doesn't seem to belong with the people right after like Ryan or Perry or Blyleven. In my head I always slot him and Spahn in a little subgroup of their own between those two classes, but obviously that's subjective.
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4272371)
I am a huge Catfish Hunter supporter but seem to be among the minority in this group.

That's because the dominant voices in this group use Hall of Fame discussions as a surrogate for the Hall of Merit, and refuse to acknowledge any difference between them. Not much you can do about it but be glad that their opinions didn't weigh much when Catfish came up for a vote.
   27. DanG Posted: October 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4272377)
When life hands you straws...
   28. bjhanke Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4272429)
In the Hall of Merit, I regularly have Deacon Phillippe, ace starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the early years of the 1900s, in the middle of my ballot. Not at the top, but not at the bottom.

Deacon pitched 2607 IP with a 120 ERA+.

The IP are low because he didn't get to the bigs until he was 27, due to the fact that 1890s baseball only had 12 teams, contracted from the 16 that the NL and the AA had had, so teams weren't exactly desperate for pitchers. He also pitched smaller schedules than Morris. He pitched in only one World Series, 1903 (well, a couple of relief innings in 1909), but, because of assorted injuries, the Pirates, who had had depth during the season, were down to the Deacon and a bunch of injured guys. Phillippe pitched games 1 (beat Cy Young), 3 (beat Hughes, who was relieved by Young in the 3rd inning), and 4 (yes, back to back) beating Bill Dineen. This was more than his arm could take, but the Pirates had no options, so Deacon also pitched game 7 (lost to Young) AND 8 (lost to Dineen 3-0). These were ALL COMPLETE GAMES - 44 IP total.

Jack Morris has 3824 IP with a 105 ERA+.
Starting at age 27, he has 3026 IP with a 103 ERA+.

He pitched in more postseasons than Deacon did, but never pitched more than 33 IP in any one year's postseason, despite having two rounds of postseason games, and I don't think he ever had to pitch two consecutive games.

No one in the HoM has ever agreed with me to put the Deacon on a HoM ballot anywhere. Ever. Basically, I get laughed out of town. But, although Morris has a large IP edge, due to getting started earlier, he pitched much worse over his career, and his postseason heroics are no better than Phillippe's. Deacon beat Cy Young twice and Bill Dineen once, before having to pitch back-to-back games caught up to him.

If I get laughed out of town with the Deacon, what does that say about Jack Morris? It says he has no business in the HoM or the HoF. - Brock Hanke
   29. GuyM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4272446)
Just with a quick check on BB-ref I see Blyleven had slightly worse run support than his leagues, he got 4.2 runs per game. Look at the AL league averages for 1970-1992, except for 1978-80 when he was in the NL, league average run support was 4.27 per game. So an average pitcher in his decisions maybe goes 267-270, putting Bert 20 wins above average.

WPA credits Blyleven with 30 wins above average. I'm not a big fan of WPA as a pitcher evaluation tool, but over a full career I'd think it would provide a reasonable run support- adjusted measure of Blyleven's contribution.
   30. BDC Posted: October 16, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4272451)
Carlton is a funny case

Carlton was inconsistent, to say the least. He's got a lot of typical years where he went 16-13 or so with an ERA a little better than league, and then these outrageous monster seasons, 1972 being very extreme, and then some truly bad years. His career doesn't make good narrative sense like, say, Hal Newhouser's. Nor was he consistently good and sometimes great, like Spahn, or consistently great like Seaver. Weird career.
   31. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: October 16, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4272453)
I'm of two minds about Morris' candidacy for the Hall:

a) He's at 67%. He's so very close, this would mean a huge amount to him and the (likely) Tigers fans who could celebrate his induction. He cosmetically fills a void for starting pitchers of the 80's by putting in a starter who happens to have a good W-L and would represent toughness/grit/workhorseyness/clutchness.

b) I really, really don't Jack Morris is a deserving Hall of Famer under our current standards. In a very "big" Hall alignment, he should sail in, but then so should Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Dennis Martinez and maybe Andy Pettitte (accounting for his extra season's worth of postseason work.) He's a first ballot Hall of Very Good kind of guy. To borrow from pro wrestling for a moment, the reason the world title means so much is because guys like Roddy Piper, Ted DiBiase and Scott Hall never won it even once.

however...

Morris is within a breath of the HOF. Standards change over time, and that means that sometimes they get a little lower. There are pre-WWII comparables, and there's always a place for narrative in the HOF in my eyes. If this means Jim Rice II: Pitching Boogaloo, then so be it. TEH FEAR, meet TEH ACE. If I had a vote, it would go to Morris this year.
   32. LargeBill Posted: October 16, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4272507)
If you click the link to the article there is also a poll for the readers and last I checked 80% think he should go in.

If the voters put in Morris, how will they be able to look better pitchers with longer careers such as Tommy John or Jim Kaat in the face? Heck, electing Morris means they are obligated to give serious consideration to Jamie Moyer.
   33. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4272540)
I'm with Bill, I don't know how on earth you can justify Morris in your Hall without John and Kaat, not to mention Martinez, Moyer, Chuck Finley, David Wells, Cone, Saberhagen, Kevin Brown, Hershiser....probably more. If you induct Morris, you have to immediately induct at least 10 of his contemporaries, let alone all the pitchers at least as good over the preceding decades.

If Morris had even one measly season where he performed at an HOF level I might be able to understand it more, but one game does not make a peak. His best season is barely better than the very worst CYA-winning seasons for the love of God.
   34. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4272557)
I'm with Bill, I don't know how on earth you can justify Morris in your Hall without John and Kaat, not to mention Martinez, Moyer, Chuck Finley, David Wells, Cone, Saberhagen, Kevin Brown, Hershiser....probably more. If you induct Morris, you have to immediately induct at least 10 of his contemporaries, let alone all the pitchers at least as good over the preceding decades.

Well, that's obviously not going to happen. So you need a different theory of how the Hall of Fame works. The "Hall of Fame is made up of the best players" hypothesis has been proved wrong. What we're working on now is "The Hall of Fame contains two types of players. Those who get in because of their accomplishments, and those who have irresistible narratives."
   35. JJ1986 Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4272563)
"The Hall of Fame contains two types of players. Those who get in because of their accomplishments, and those who have irresistible narratives."


and then there's Jim Rice.
   36. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4272567)
and those who have irresistible narratives
even if they've been proven false before the candidate was inducted.
   37. BDC Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4272568)
The thing is, I also find Morris's narrative easy to resist. It's like a movie that has one good moment or line (Game Seven 1991 = "Welcome to earth"?), and crowds are talking about it as if it's great entertainment, but it's just not that interesting. It's as if Dennis Martinez had happened to have Jose Rijo's 1990 World Series, or something. Though even that might have been a snappier story.
   38. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4272602)
Carlton was inconsistent, to say the least. He's got a lot of typical years where he went 16-13 or so with an ERA a little better than league, and then these outrageous monster seasons, 1972 being very extreme, and then some truly bad years. His career doesn't make good narrative sense like, say, Hal Newhouser's. Nor was he consistently good and sometimes great, like Spahn, or consistently great like Seaver. Weird career.

This prompted me to look at his stats again. From 1971-73 he went
20-9 with a 102 ERA+
27-10 with a 182 ERA+
13-20 with a 97 ERA+ (leading the league in ER)

He had five truly great seasons, but they were scattered throughout his career. He also hung on way too long and was terrible in his last couple years.
   39. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4272605)
Maddux is the other extreme. For a 10 year period he seemed to go 19-8 every year with an amazing ERA.
   40. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4272646)
Maddux was on another planet. He had an 11 year run (including the strike seasons of course) where he averaged 18-8, 2.47 4.5 K/BB over 234 IP. His worst ERA in that period was 3.57, but he went 19-9 that year.
   41. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4272649)
He's at 67%. He's so very close

So he was at 67% last year. Is the upcoming election (voting revealed in Jan, 2013, I believe) his final year on the ballot? Sorry for the dumb question.
   42. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4272693)
The thing is, I also find Morris's narrative easy to resist.


Me too. I'm not against the narrative in every case. I would vote for Dizzy Dean. But for Morris, his regular season career is inferior to contemporaries who never got consideration, and his postseason heroics do not put him ahead of say, Orel Hershiser 1988.

As for Catfish Hunter, I don't get that one either. He was a pitch to contact innings eater who lucked out playing for a team with A) a great pitcher's park B) great defense behind him C) a great offense to support him and D) HOF relievers to back him up when he needed it. In short, he had every advantage to the same degree that Rick Reuschel had a disadvantage. Why is Hunter in and Reuschel a guy who will never have a chance?

It has nothing at all to do with the pitcher himself, and everything to do with the teams they found themselves on.
   43. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4272698)
Morris has 2 more years on the ballot (this coming year and next).
   44. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4272708)
In short, he had every advantage to the same degree that Rick Reuschel had a disadvantage. Why is Hunter in and Reuschel a guy who will never have a chance?

Because what you dub "advantage" is really just, "life." The best person for a job doesn't always get it, but if the person who does get it does very well with it, society tends to leave it at that. We don't bother looking for the third-base coach, or long-time assistant, who could have been Lombardi or Sparky if only given the chance. We laud Lombardi and Sparky as the great coach and great manager they were.

Saber orthodoxy demands that we look through maximization of opportunity, and obsess upon distributive fairness of opportunity. The problem it runs into is that no one wants to do that. Why? Because it runs counter to the essence of life. Constant if-onlying is a waste of time.
   45. zonk Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4272733)
I was coming of baseball age just as Catfish was crawling to the end -- I have very young and very vague memories of his swan song -- but up until about 10 years ago when I started reading heavily here, BPro, and going back to read my old BJ for more than just the snarky tidbits, I always thought Catfish was a solid HOFer.

You can say reputation and aura/myth are stupid reasons to put someone in the HoF (or, on the hand, you could also say that they're why the Hall of Fame exists) -- but growing up, I know older fans and the guys I grew up reading on the sports pages, in Baseball Digest, listening to on weekends, etc.... to a person, they all lauded Catfish as one of the best of the 70s. Like I said - for virtually all of the 80s and 90s, I'd have concurred even if it was subconsciously just herdthink.

I've made peace with Morris getting in... He's going to make it, he'll be one of the worst, if not the worst pitcher in the Hall... but frankly, I get a lot more peeved over the injustices of guys kept out than I do the 'wrong' guys making it in... but of the pitchers in that category? Well, Dennis Martinez is almost Jack Morris exactly -- probably a skosch better -- and I'm not arguing for Denny going in. Dave Stieb was a better pitcher, but threw nearly a 700 fewer innings. Kevin Brown was better, but I think it's more a crime that he was one and done - not certain he should go either.

Sooo... my only issue with Morris going in is that he'll end up on ballots that skipped better candidates.

In one of the HoF threads, I think we did a look back at the Morris-era ballots, and I think there were only 2 or 3 instances (maybe less) where I could have found a spot for him. If I had a real ballot, I think I'd always vote 10 -- even on shallow ballots, I'd feel like I ought to at least take responsibility for giving guys like Ted Simmons or Kevin Brown or Bobby Grich another look.

I think I had Morris something like 11th on my ballot this time around -- and it was probably close to a coin flip between him and Lee Smith.

But whatever... I remember Morris - and if I ever have yunguns to take to the HoF, I won't be shy about telling them he's not really on par with the other plaques... but I'll probably also spin tales of the 91 WS, of the grizzled innings eater 'ace by default' he was most of his career, etc. That's not the worst thing in the world.

   46. Repoz Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4272736)
Francesspool today: "Justin Verlander is every bit as good as Jack Morris."
   47. GuyM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4272738)
The thing is, I also find Morris's narrative easy to resist.
Me too....his regular season career is inferior to contemporaries who never got consideration, and his postseason heroics do not put him ahead of say, Orel Hershiser 1988.

You're forgetting his multiple large free-agent contracts. The story practically writes itself.....
   48. TR_Sullivan Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4272743)
as for Catfish Hunter
A.) Granted Oakland Coliseum is a pitchers park; B.) Not sure Oakland had a great defense behind him. In their World Series years, they committed 130-140 errors a year and had no Gold Glove winners. Outfielders included George Hendricks, Angel Manguel, Reggie Jackson; C.)Offensively, from 1971-74, they scored over 700 runs once. D.) Rollie Fingers had about 20 saves per season while backing up Hunter. Some of those had to be for Blue, Holtzman, Odom, et. al

Hunter was on a great team. This is just my opinion...not trying to advance a statistical argument or challenge anybody who thinks other wise. I think Hunter was a primary reason why the A's were go good...maybe at the top of the list. Baseball-Reference lists him No. 1 on the team in 1974.

It's like the 1906-10 Cubs who were so good. There is some question about the Hall of Fame credentials of Tinkers, Evers and Chance. But the Cubs were so good that they had to have at least 1-2 Hall of Famers. Don't they? Brown maybe.

Again, not trying to challenge anybody. It's just the way I remember it. Hunter and Palmer were considered the two best pitchers in the AL at the time. But I could be wrong

   49. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4272750)
You're forgetting his multiple large free-agent contracts. The story practically writes itself.....


Like "He's no Kevin Brown". Plus he's got nothing on Barry Zito and Mike Hampton.
   50. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4272775)
B.) Not sure Oakland had a great defense behind him. In their World Series years, they committed 130-140 errors a year and had no Gold Glove winners. Outfielders included George Hendricks, Angel Manguel, Reggie Jackson;

Rank in DER from 1972-74: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd. Each year behind only the Orioles, who had probably the best defense ever with Brooks, Belanger, Grich, and Blair

C.)Offensively, from 1971-74, they scored over 700 runs once.

Rank in runs scored: 2nd, 1st, 3rd (7 runs behind first). Considering the time, 700 runs was a great offensive season. Some teams couldn't even score 500.
   51. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4272781)
We don't bother looking for the third-base coach, or long-time assistant, who could have been Lombardi or Sparky if only given the chance.


Irrelevant. Rick Reuschel didn't spend his time warming up on the sidelines because his team had Fergie Jenkins in an old Hoss world where a starting pitcher throws every day. He pitched just as much as Hunter did, and pitched more effectively. HOF is for the best player, not players who played for the best team. Most people can recognize that despite their infielder W-L record, Ernie Banks was a better infielder than Bobby Richardson. There's no reason we shouldn't look at pitchers the same way.
   52. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4272782)
Rank in DER from 1972-74: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd

To be fair, this should probably be park-adjusted in some way; Oakland's massive foul territory gives their defense plenty of free outs.

Also to be fair, the same park effect cuts both ways; their offense would be even better than it looks from raw run totals.
   53. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4272785)
It's just the way I remember it. Hunter and Palmer were considered the two best pitchers in the AL at the time

I remember it that way too, except for Palmer "at the time" was 1969-78 or so, and for Hunter it was about 1971-75. The thing is there were 5 year periods when Dave Stieb, Bret Saberhagen, David Cone, Steve Rogers, Mickey Lolich and Vida Blue were also considered elite pitchers and no one is pushing them for HOF. Five years of clear all-star/sometimes CYA status isn't really enough for most people to enter the HOF. I think Andy Pettitte will get in under the Morris precedent.
   54. AROM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4272795)
To be fair, this should probably be park-adjusted in some way; Oakland's massive foul territory gives their defense plenty of free outs.


True, but no matter how you split that DER between fielders and ballpark, it all helps Hunter and the rest of the Oakland pitchers.
   55. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4272816)
Irrelevant. Rick Reuschel didn't spend his time warming up on the sidelines because his team had Fergie Jenkins in an old Hoss world where a starting pitcher throws every day. He pitched just as much as Hunter did, and pitched more effectively.

If at all, only adjusted for purported "advantage." Saber orthodoxy assumes, without addressing, whether this is the right way to go about things. I'd say no -- that's not how life actually works, nor how it should work.

In a team context, we're better off preferring and validating performance that contributes to more effective actual team results than the more ambiguous and atomistic "more effective performance." It's easy to see why saberists see it otherwise, given the way they treasure the loner struggling against the incompetencies and misperceptions of his fellow men. (*) And thus a Rick Reuschel, pitching "effectively," but otherwise suffering the pain of being let down and brought down by his mundane teammates, is so appealing a figure.

(*) Thus, the insistent quest to isolate a players' contributions to only those things he's "responsible for" that lies at the very heart of sabermetrics -- in other words, the insistent quest to treat an individual player as if he's playing with no teammates, or merely generic and inhuman teammates. But Rick Reuschel was forced to play baseball with other human beings. That's life. And that's baseball.
   56. JJ1986 Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4272824)
we're better off preferring and validating performance that contributes to more effective actual team results


What does this mean? What stats or information would you use to do this?
   57. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4272829)
Irrelevant. Rick Reuschel didn't spend his time warming up on the sidelines because his team had Fergie Jenkins in an old Hoss world where a starting pitcher throws every day. He pitched just as much as Hunter did, and pitched more effectively.

If at all, only adjusted for purported "advantage."


OK, then. No adjustments allowed.

Rick Reuschel: 3.37 ERA
Jack Morris: 3.90 ERA
   58. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4272853)
Well, since we're restricted to what actually happened, we don't have to speculate about how resistible Morris's narrative is. He's been on the ballot for 13 years and still not made it so clearly the narrative is very resistible.

Kirby Puckett has a case for an irresistible narrative. Catfish Hunter might, Dizzy Dean might. But the very voting histories of guys like Morris and Rice are not those of irresistible narratives. Jim Rice started out under 30%; Morris didn't even break 30% until his 6th year on the ballot. A strong majority of voters started out thinking they were HoFers.

Their voting histories are the product of a mix of things: varying levels of quality of HoF ballots being a key one. In 1998, Jim Rice received 42%. Then, in 1999, Ryan, Brett, Yount and Fisk came onto the ballot. Suddenly Jim Rice is back below 30%. Does this make sense? Of course not. About 12% of voters went for Rice in 98 because it was a relatively weak ballot then in 99 said "hold on a second, he's not as good as these 4 guys, I'm dropping him off the ballot." OK, maybe they were morons who had forgotten that there were greater players in the game until being reminded. Except of course that he jumped over 50% in 2000. So those 12% who decided he wasn't good enough in 99 decided he was good enough again in 2000? Nothing changed but the names on the ballot.

To pretend that any of this "makes sense" is simply pretense in support of the notion that it makes sense for Morris or Rice to make the HoF. They're making the HoF due to a screwed up mix of politics, HoF droughts, random fluctuation, surviving voter birthyears and the desire to CREATE a narrative to justify the behavior.

TR, as I said, I'd have agreed with you on Hunter at the time. But even if you're right, that he was the key man of those A's teams (debatable obviously), that's just 4 seasons. He was also a key man of the 75 Yanks so that gives him 5 seasons. And that is an impressive run, especially using the "superficial" standards of the time -- lots of wins, a CYA (and 2, 3, 4 finishes) and lots of AS games.

But outside of those 5 years? Prior to Oakland's run he had 1300 IP of a 94 OPS+ and 73-78 record. After 75, he had 660 IP with a 91 ERA+ and 40-39 record.

Even if we call those 5 seasons great (again, debatable), should 5 great seasons plus 9-10 average seasons be enough to make the HoF? If we're talking a Pedro or Koufax 5 years then sure but Hunter's clearly far short of that.

And those Oakland teams were great but you do seem to be under-rating the rest of the personnel. From 71 to 74, the A's were 3rd, 2nd, 1st and 3rd in runs scored despite playing in a pitcher's park. While the only HoFer among the position players was Reggie, much of the rest of the lineup are HoVG players -- Campy, Bando, Tenace (short career) -- and guys with really nice runs for the A's (Rudi, North, Epstein). And of course that great, deep pitching staff. Blue was far and away the best pitcher on the 71 team and Holtzmann has an argument for the 73 team. They were also one of the first teams to recognize the value of a strong bullpen.

All told from 71-74, Hunter had 1143 IP, 122 ERA+ and 88-35. Blue had 1009 IP, 121 ERA+ and 67-42, which is heavily dominated by his 71. Holtzman showed up in 72 and had 818 IP, 115 ERA+ and 59-41. Hunter was the best of that bunch but it wasn't exactly a blowout.

Those A's teams were aweseome because, like a lot of awesome teams, they were chock full of very good players on both sides of the ball, not 4-5 great ones surrounded by mediocrity. The only positions where the A's didn't have potential all-stars were 2B and 4th starter (and occasionally an OF spot and they fielded excellent platoons at 1B that hit like an AS but obviously no individual was gonna be an all-star).

If you want to put it another way, those A's teams were very good players sometimes having great seasons. Mike Epstein is nobody's idea of a great player but in his 2 platoon seasons in Oakland, he put up a 148 OPS+. Rudi wasn't a great player but he put up a 151 OPS+ in 72 and a 140 in 74. In 73-74, Tenace is credited with 9 WAR. That 74 team had SIX position players with 3.8 WAR or more. Hunter did lead that team in WAR but he had a lot of help.

And while the sentiment of "this was a great team, it must have had some great players" is understandable, singling out one of those players because he was slightly better than the others is exactly what many of us speak against -- don't hand out individual awards based on the quality of teammates.

Which is not to say that's what you've done. If you feel Hunter's 5-year run surrounded by mediocrity is worthy of induction then so be it. I do hope you have applied that same test to other pitchers.
   59. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: October 16, 2012 at 06:11 PM (#4272855)
What does this mean? What stats or information would you use to do this?


W-L records
Morris: 254-186
Big Daddy: 214-191

Pennants, WS appearances etc...

IOW anything that makes Morris look better than Reuschel

   60. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2012 at 06:11 PM (#4272857)
SBB redux: Life is unfair so it is only fair that we reward those who have had the good fortune to benefit from life's unfairness.
   61. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4272862)
A strong majority of voters started out thinking they were HoFers.

NOT HoFers obviously
   62. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: October 16, 2012 at 06:21 PM (#4272868)
And while the sentiment of "this was a great team, it must have had some great players" is understandable, singling out one of those players because he was slightly better than the others is exactly what many of us speak against -- don't hand out individual awards based on the quality of teammates.


Morris on the 1980s Tigers wasn't slightly better than Trammel or Whitaker- he was not as good as they

then you get Parrish and Lemon and Gibson...
   63. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: October 16, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4272883)
Catfish is in because he was a MAJOR star when pitching, it never occurred to me that he wasn't a deserving HOFer until 1990 or so.


21-7 2.04
25-12 2.49
23-14 2.58

those are terrific-fabulous LOOKING seasons, its only when you look deeply under the hood- pitcher's park, low offense era, very good team support.

21-5 3.34- you look at that and you'd guess and ERA+ of 140 or so right? No, 107- that was 1973, the As lead the league in scoring at 4.68 per game, they gave Hunter 5.58

Hunter's 1973 was like Morris' 1992, 21-6 with a 101 ERA+
In 1992 the Jays weren't first in runs, they were 2nd, 11 behind Detroit, 4.81 runs per game, but they gave Morris over 5 and half per game

In 1975 Big Daddy had 234 ip of 102 ERA+ ball, he went 11-17, the Cubs averaged 4.40 runs per game (well off the 5.19 scored by the Reds that year) but gave him just 3.96 runs per game- if he got 5.5+ like 73 Catfish and 92 Morris does he still go 11-17?


   64. CFiJ Posted: October 16, 2012 at 07:10 PM (#4272923)
He said: “You’ve seen me pitch long enough to know that ERA is not a big deal to me, I care about wins.

You know, maybe if ERA had been a bigger deal to Morris, he would have been a better pitcher, won a lot more games, and sailed into the HOF.
   65. LargeBill Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:36 PM (#4273155)
Okay, what is the over/under on Morris threads before end of the year? Doesn't matter I'm better the over regardless.
   66. ajnrules Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4273185)
So he was at 67% last year. Is the upcoming election (voting revealed in Jan, 2013, I believe) his final year on the ballot? Sorry for the dumb question.


This coming year will be his 14th and penultimate year on the ballot, but his 15th year will coincide with the debuts of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. There's no way he's breaking through with those two around, so this year is essentially his best shot, since the major pitchers debuting are Roger Clemens (steroid taint) and Curt Schilling (legal issues with his gaming company, plus some people may not think he's good enough).
   67. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4273225)
Francesspool today: "Justin Verlander is every bit as good as Jack Morris."
Well, that's true. I mean, he's every bit as good as Jack Morris and (much, much) more, but you know, close enough.
   68. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4273246)
Curt Schilling (legal issues with his gaming company, plus some people may not think he's good enough).

On the other hand, Schilling's postseason record is superficially enormously superior to Morris's, so his debut may be more harmful than would be expected.
   69. Howie Menckel Posted: October 17, 2012 at 12:41 AM (#4273671)

"I am a huge Catfish Hunter supporter but seem to be among the minority in this group."

I have always supported the fact that he never deserved a single top 15 vote in Hall of MERIT yet I believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

The real-life narrative of a 3-time WS champ 72-73-74 with this moustachioed guy leading the way in the postseason success, and 6 or so 20-win seasons.....

If you are old enough like me to remember those days, this non-fan of him has to say that if he is ignored at a shrine in the 1970s baseball section, why bother opening your doors?

And no, this doesn't get Morris in, either. Check out both of their postseason peaks...
   70. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 05:22 AM (#4273734)
That's because the dominant voices in this group use Hall of Fame discussions as a surrogate for the Hall of Merit, and refuse to acknowledge any difference between them. Not much you can do about it but be glad that their opinions didn't weigh much when Catfish came up for a vote.
Not true, Andy. We acknowledge the difference between them: the HOF is the HOM for stupid people.

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