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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Platoon Advantage: Jack Morris is going to be a Hall of Famer, and that’s OK

BTW…I’m compiling a (H/T Moral Idiot) massivo (HA!) list of BBWAA ballotears for their Pro-Bonds/Clemens (9 as of now) ~ Anti-Bonds/Clemens (12 as of now) promised HOF ballots.

For a second thing: it’s getting to be a cliche by now, but it’s absolutely true that 2013 is going to be completely unlike any ballot that has come before. Jaffe’s reasoning is that “Morris probably won’t move up enough because it is such a strong batch of new guys.” I don’t think so. There are certainly a lot of should-be slam dunks coming in, but the only new guy who figures to finish particularly strong in the voting is Craig Biggio, and he’s far from a first-ballot lock. By and large, the guys interested in voting for Morris aren’t the same ones who might be tempted to bump Morris off because they’re voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Biggio, and/or some combination of deserving first-timers or holdovers like Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Kenny Lofton, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Edgar Martinez. If anything, the vast majority of them will bump any of those guys off (even Bonds or Clemens, maybe especially Bonds or Clemens) in favor of the presumptively “clean” Morris, who won’t have the fourteen shots left most of these guys will (assuming they get 5% of the vote, which I think will be a problem for Lofton and possibly Palmeiro).

Rather, the real 1999-like year, in terms of players the voters are actually likely to want to enshrine, is the following year, 2014: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas are all pretty close to first-ballot shoo-ins. You might as well think of 2013 as Morris’ last year on the ballot, because he’s not going in with those dudes.

So, that’s why I think Morris goes in next year. As amazing as the talent on the 2013 ballot is, it’s not going to pull many votes off of Morris, thanks to the “PE"D questions and because it’ll be viewed as his last realistic shot. It’s 2013 or nothing…and for 75%-plus of the voters, it’s going to be 2013. He’s going in. Might as well get used to it.

Repoz Posted: January 19, 2012 at 07:01 AM | 193 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, projections, sabermetrics

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   1. bobm Posted: January 19, 2012 at 08:22 AM (#4040050)
The excerpt does not explain why it's "OK" but TFA makes an argument.

And, really: what's it to you (or me)? Morris gets in, and the BBWAA puts an undeserving player in the Hall. It's not the first time, it's unlikely to be the last, and he's far from the least deserving they've ever enshrined. What else happens? As I said, it's not a decision between Morris and somebody else for most of these voters, especially not between Morris and a deserving steroid-era guy like Bagwell or a controversial-for-some-reason candidate like Raines. He's not keeping someone else out, not at this point. All that happens is that one guy, who doesn't quite meet the standard, gets in. There are no other real-world consequences. ...

[W]hat's the harm of putting Morris in? He'll get a plaque hanging in the same gallery of others which, yes, mostly represent much greater players, but some of which represent Freddie Lindstrom, and Jesse Haines, and Herb Pennock. And that's all. You can go to the Hall and walk right past him. It's no skin off your...whatever analogigal place on you an irritant might take skin off of. The world keeps turning.

At this point, if you're inclined to rant and rave about the Hall of Fame and the voting therefor (and lord knows I am), it just seems to me your time is better spent arguing for guys who really do belong and risk being unfairly forgotten -- your Trammells and Raineses and Edgars and Bagwells -- than against a guy like Morris who doesn't.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4040060)
BTW…I’m compiling a (H/T Moral Idiot) massivo (HA!) list of BBWAA ballotears for their Pro-Bonds/Clemens (9 as of now) ~ Anti-Bonds/Clemens (12 as of now) promised HOF ballots.


The Moral Idiots people have spoken! It's democracy in action!
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4040065)
it just seems to me your time is better spent arguing for guys who really do belong and risk being unfairly forgotten -- your Trammells and Raineses and Edgars and Bagwells -- than against a guy like Morris who doesn't.


This is certainly good advice, but man, its so easy to complain.
   4. TDF, situational idiot Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:33 AM (#4040071)
Because Morris was both vastly overrated and a jerk. Not is he about the 150th best player not in the HOF, when he did fail it was never ever his fault and he made sure everyone within earshot knew exactly whose fault it was.
   5. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4040078)
He's not keeping someone else out, not at this point.

Nope. Entirely different mental bucket for practically every voter.

And, really: what's it to you (or me)?

The primacy of ERA+, primarily. But even that premise collapses on its merits given that Catfish Hunter was elected not so long ago with the very same 105.

   6. bachslunch Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4040086)
The primacy of ERA+, primarily. But even that premise collapses on its merits given that Catfish Hunter was elected not so long ago with the very same 105.


I've always thought that any argument comparing one's favorite HoF snub to one of its weakest members is not a good argument (people do this all the time re the Pro Football Hall comparing their favorite WR snub to Lynn Swann and QB snub to Joe Namath). And as far as I can tell, if Morris gets elected, he'll be tied for next-to-last among HoF starting pitchers in ERA+ with Catfish Hunter at 105. Only Rube Marquard at 103 is worse.

If Morris were in the middle of a bunch of second-tier HoF-ers, that would be different.
   7. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4040088)
So, that’s why I think Morris goes in next year. As amazing as the talent on the 2013 ballot is, it’s not going to pull many votes off of Morris, thanks to the “PE"D questions and because it’ll be viewed as his last realistic shot. It’s 2013 or nothing…and for 75%-plus of the voters, it’s going to be 2013. He’s going in. Might as well get used to it.
I just don't see this. Assuming there's roughly the same number of voters next year, Morris has to add another 50 voters, basically, in a year. In his favor, he added about 60 this year, but that was with a much weaker ballot. I just can't see him adding 110 in two years with the names on the ballot.
   8. GuyM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4040099)
it just seems to me your time is better spent arguing for guys who really do belong and risk being unfairly forgotten -- your Trammells and Raineses and Edgars and Bagwells -- than against a guy like Morris who doesn't.

I think this is good advice, but it assumes a false choice -- support qualified candidates OR oppose Morris. In fact, the best chance of stopping Morris is to make affirmative cases for better qualified (but not automatic) candidates. The more votes that Raines, Bagwell, Edgar and Schilling get in 2013, the smaller the chance that Morris makes it. This is true simply as a matter of mathematics -- there are only so many votes, and most writers won't vote for 9-10 guys -- and because a year of being regularly reminded that Morris is maybe the 8th best candidate on the ballot makes it less likely that previous No votes become yes votes.

And most important of these is Schilling, since voters mainly compare pitchers to other pitchers. Rather than continuing to debate Morris-vs-Blyleven, we need lots of articles on Morris-vs-Schilling. If writers see that Morris isn't the best pitcher on the ballot, that really hurts him. It's not even too early to remind people that Glavine and Mussina are far stronger candidates, since some writers will be inclined to consider them marginal candidates.

   9. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4040108)
The thing I don't quite fully understand is why anyone would want to "stop" Morris from getting in the Hall of Fame. I would argue if anyone is that invested in the process he/she should eat a bowl of ice cream, roll a blunt, or do something else relaxing. I don't think aspiring to be the anti-Rich Lederer is really a noble calling.
   10. BDC Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4040110)
I've never really thought of these arguments as aimed at "stopping" Morris. I liked Jack Morris as a ballplayer: he came up with the Tigers while I was living in Michigan in the '70s, and I have fond memories of all those guys who came up at the time and eventually (some of them) won in 1984. It'll be nice to hear his induction speech. I just think he wasn't as good a pitcher as most of the Hall or a fair swath of those pitchers outside the Hall. And this is the kind of forum where we point out stuff like that.
   11. DanG Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4040113)
The easiest way to see where Morris comes up short of HOF quality is to compare him to his direct contemporaries with similarly long careers. There are three long-career SP HOF candidates who were close contemporaries of Morris:

Player             WAR  (Top five seasons)  ERAPitchW    IP From   To  GS  CG SHO   W   L W-L%   SO  ERA
Jack Morris       39.3 
(5.1-4.9-4.8-4.7-4.1105 10.10 3824.0 1977 1994 527 175  28 254 186 .577 2478 3.90
Dennis Martinez   46.9 
(5.5-5.3-4.9-4.7-4.6106 11.54 3999.2 1976 1998 562 122  30 245 193 .559 2149 3.70
Frank Tanana      55.1 
(7.8-7.7-7.2-4.9-3.7106 11.59 4188.1 1973 1993 616 143  34 240 236 .504 2773 3.66
Rick Reuschel     66.3 
(8.7-5.9-5.5-5.5-5.4114 19.52 3548.1 1972 1991 529 102  26 214 191 .528 2015 3.37 

We could have thrown Hough in here as well, but his unusual career makes direct comparisons to Morris more complicated. He also has less career WAR then Morris, so we'll stick with these.

How about our old friend Win Shares? Career totals and top 5 seasons:

JMo 225 (21-20-20-19-18)
DMa 233 (18-18-17-16-16)
FTa 241 (27-22-20-15-15)
RRe 240 (26-20-20-19-18)

How about Cy Young voting (that tends to be very dependent on team support)? Career shares and top 3 finishes:

JMo 0.73 3-3-4
DMa 0.05 5-5-x
FTa 0.23 3-4-9
RRe 0.62 3-3-8

Look at the Translated Statistics from Baseball Prospectus. Translated Won-Loss and ERA

JMo 223-200 4.29
DMa 232-212 4.36
FTa 238-195 4.11
RRe 221-152 3.78

What makes Morris an impending HOFer and these others one and done? Teammates - just win, baby! Morris' teams turned his WL record from Mel Harder (223-186) to Bob Gibson (251-174). It's an old truism that HOF pitchers play for good teams. It not only makes for a shiny W-L record, but it saves wear and tear on the arm pitching in front of good defenses and having good bullpens. Bob Friend and Bobo Newsom were better pitchers than Morris. Too bad they couldn't "pitch to the score" like The Jack.
   12. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4040118)
The thing I don't quite fully understand is why anyone would want to "stop" Morris from getting in the Hall of Fame. I would argue if anyone is that invested in the process he/she should eat a bowl of ice cream, roll a blunt, or do something else relaxing. I don't think aspiring to be the anti-Rich Lederer is really a noble calling.


I don't think it's a desire to be the anti-Lederer so much as a desire to have the Hall reflect what we feel is the best of the best. Including an inferior player I think devalues the meaning of "Hall of Famer." It isn't a deathblow or anything like that but to me the Hall of Fame should be the best of the best and in my opinion Jack Morris does not meet that standard.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4040124)
I just don't see this. Assuming there's roughly the same number of voters next year, Morris has to add another 50 voters, basically, in a year. In his favor, he added about 60 this year, but that was with a much weaker ballot. I just can't see him adding 110 in two years with the names on the ballot.


I wouldn't discount the "he's so close, who am I to be the one denying him entry" vote from guys like Rosenthal.
   14. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4040129)
it just seems to me your time is better spent arguing for guys who really do belong and risk being unfairly forgotten -- your Trammells and Raineses and Edgars and Bagwells -- than against a guy like Morris who doesn't.


The thing I don't quite fully understand is why anyone would want to "stop" Morris from getting in the Hall of Fame. I would argue if anyone is that invested in the process he/she should eat a bowl of ice cream, roll a blunt, or do something else relaxing. I don't think aspiring to be the anti-Rich Lederer is really a noble calling.


The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Folks get to crusade for whatever random thing floats their boat, and that is a feature not a bug. I do not understand the need to chastise people for how they allocate their time and energy. Calling them wrong "Morris does belong in the HoF" is one thing, but "Stop wasting your time on this, spend it better" seems to me to be much more disrespectful.

That said it is in fact a false dichotomy (a theme today I guess), you can argue for X and against Y. Plus, as others have noted before sins of omission can be fixed, sins of comission are essentially forever and so are in some sense more important.

Edited: The Sine of Ommission, while a good band name, was not exactly what I was trying to say.
   15. AROM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4040134)
The primacy of ERA+, primarily. But even that premise collapses on its merits given that Catfish Hunter was elected not so long ago with the very same 105.


If Catfish were up for discussion right now he would have little or no support among the sabermetric community. He was elected in 1987. A lot of people on this site hadn't even been born yet. Others had yet to read Bill James. I was on my third year of Baseball Abstract reading at the time. Don't think I would have yet been able to come up with a reason to oppose him if anyone had asked me.

At this point he's just one of those questionable cases from long ago, not much different than George Kelly or someone like that.
   16. billyjack Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4040143)
Weird item FWIW: Morris completed around 40% of all games he started under Sparky. From my quick check, no other pitcher under Sparky comes close to this. The highest percentage I could find was Gullett at around 20%.
   17. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4040145)
it just seems to me your time is better spent arguing for guys who really do belong and risk being unfairly forgotten -- your Trammells and Raineses and Edgars and Bagwells -- than against a guy like Morris who doesn't.

This is certainly good advice, but man, its so easy to complain.
I don't agree. For one thing, if a guy who belongs doesn't get in, there are 14 more chances to argue for them. (And that's not even including the V.C.) If a guy who doesn't belong does get in, that's it; no reversing it.

And it's not harmless; if you let in people who don't belong -- and I don't mean borderline guys like Andre Dawson, but total jokes like Morris -- then it diminishes the honor of getting in for those who do.


EDIT: Coke to Bitter Mouse on the sins of comission thing.
   18. BDC Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4040149)
Others had yet to read Bill James

And at that, James's comment on Hunter in the first Historical Abstract finds him "interchangeable" with Jenkins and Roberts. Even in the later HOF book, the comparison is to Tiant and not to Hunter's disadvantage, but rather to show how good Tiant was. It's only in the second Historical Abstract that James's tone shifts and he has to admit that Hunter wasn't the equal of his mystique (dropping him to 64th among all-time pitchers).

Even Bill James, in the 1980s, liked pitchers who won lots of games. He made a strong argument for Steve Carlton for the 1982 Cy Young Award, based on Carlton's wins total and general Männlichkeit, that ignored his relatively high ERA. I don't think he'd make the same argument today.
   19. AROM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4040151)
Looking at Catfish, his best argument is as a peak value pitcher, 24 WAR in 5 years from 1971-75. Even then, there are probably a ton of non-HOF pitchers who can match or better that. Guys like Dwight Gooden, Frank Tanana, and many more.

Outside of those years he just didn't have much value at all. Years like 1968 (234 innings, 3.35 ERA, 172-59 K-uBB) look like a good pitcher by our current standards. But 76 pitchers qualified for the ERA title that year, and Catfish's ERA came in at 69th place. There is value in being an innings eater at an average rate, but I don't see any value in a replacement level innings eater.
   20. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4040153)
A lot of people on this site hadn't even been born yet.
Ugh.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4040154)
I wouldn't discount the "he's so close, who am I to be the one denying him entry" vote from guys like Rosenthal.


I think that's what gives him a chance, and why I thougt he needed to eclipse 65 percent this year to have a chance. But it is still a long way to 75 percent, and the most recent "close guys" aren't really an agument in his favor.

In his 14th year on the ballot, Rice received 72 percent of the vote. His final push votes only amounted to a 4.2 percentage-point gain, enough to move him over the line but not an overwhelming total. The '09 ballot had Henderson, but no other first-balloters even reached Year 2.

In his 13th year on the ballot, Blyleven received 74 percent. He picked up only 5.5 percentage points to push him over on the 2011 ballot (which didn't include any first-ballot Hall of Famers).

What's impossible to know in any of these cases is the strength of conviction of the no voters, which should be considerable with Jack (due to him being not worthy and all).

I say he comes up short in 2013. But if he can get within a handful of votes of election in the process, he's got a chance in 14. With ridiculously false precision, I'll say if he eclipses 73.5 percent next year, he'll go in during his 15th year. If not, (which I'm going to say is the case) it's off to the Vet's Committee, which will usher him in.

   22. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4040157)
Jack Morris is going to be a Hall of Famer, and that’s OK

...because we know where he is going to be then, and can set up an ambush, capture him, and burn him on a pyre?
   23. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4040159)
Weird item FWIW: Morris completed around 40% of all games he started under Sparky. From my quick check, no other pitcher under Sparky comes close to this. The highest percentage I could find was Gullett at around 20%.

Likely because Sparky thought Morris was the best pitcher he ever managed, which he's said publicly on at least one occasion.
   24. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4040164)
Looking at Catfish, his best argument is as a peak value pitcher, 24 WAR in 5 years from 1971-75. Even then, there are probably a ton of non-HOF pitchers who can match or better that. Guys like Dwight Gooden, Frank Tanana, and many more.

Outside of those years he just didn't have much value at all. Years like 1968 (234 innings, 3.35 ERA, 172-59 K-uBB) look like a good pitcher by our current standards. But 76 pitchers qualified for the ERA title that year, and Catfish's ERA came in at 69th place. There is value in being an innings eater at an average rate, but I don't see any value in a replacement level innings eater.


The antis are asking the writers to reject Morris because of his ERA+ when they inducted Catfish with the same ERA+ in the adult memories of most of the writers, and Sutton with essentially the same ERA+ more recently.

They're further asking the writers to adopt revisionist -- if not faddish -- definitions of the baseball terms "win" and "ace," and to a lesser but still significant extent the commonly-used word, "reputation."

That's a very tough sell.
   25. DA Baracus Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4040166)
The thing I don't quite fully understand is why anyone would want to "stop" Morris from getting in the Hall of Fame.


Because he's a god damn menace and will terrorize the children once he's there. There's so many exhibits for him to hide behind that we'll never find him.
   26. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:09 PM (#4040172)
I think this was actually a very well written and reasoned article. But what bugs me about the pro Morris crowd isn't that they overrated his value and legitimately thought he was greater than he was (ala Lou Brock) - I can understand mistakes like that. It's that they KNOW he wasn't really that great, and they don't care. It's impossible for them not to notice that his ERA is just a tiche above average or that guys with very similar careers dropped off the ballot after a single shot. Morris is going into the HOF because the voters WANT him in there, statistics be damned. And that bugs me.

And they're doing the same thing but in reverse with the steroid era guys. Even excluding the confirmed juicers, the voters know that Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza, etc are worthy, but the entire era they played in offends them so they're not going to vote them in right away simply because they don't WANT to. The HOF will continue to lose more and more relevance each year if the voters keep being allowed to elect and reject players just based on likes/dislikes rather than statistical merit.
   27. AROM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4040180)
The antis are asking the writers to reject Morris because of his ERA+ when they inducted Catfish with the same ERA+ in the adult memories of most of the writers, and Sutton with essentially the same ERA+ more recently.


That only makes sense if Catfish is the only comparable and represents a good in/out line. Morris was better than Catfish so he deserves to go in? No, I don't think so.

We also know that these same writers have rejected 14 pitchers who retired between 1980-2005, pitched 3000 innings, and had an ERA+ better than 105. If they were paying attention to ERA+, they'd say no to Morris, and wonder what in the world they were thinking on the Catfish and Kevin Brown votes.
   28. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4040183)
The antis are asking the writers to reject Morris because of his ERA+ when they inducted Catfish with the same ERA+ in the adult memories of most of the writers, and Sutton with essentially the same ERA+ more recently.


108 (Sutton's career ERA+) is not 105. More importantly, through 1981, Sutton had essentially the same number of innings as Morris and a career ERA+ of 112. The fact that he pitched a further 1400 IP at 100 doesn't diminish his career, it enhances it. Morris is not only not in the same ballpark as Sutton, he's not in the same time zone.
   29. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4040200)
We also know that these same writers have rejected 14 pitchers who retired between 1980-2005, pitched 3000 innings, and had an ERA+ better than 105. If they were paying attention to ERA+, they'd say no to Morris, and wonder what in the world they were thinking on the Catfish and Kevin Brown votes.

That's even more reason not to expect the writers to draw an ERA+ in/out line. There's really no precedent for them to do that, nor should they.

I'm not using Catfish as a comp; I'm saying that the claim that Morris should be out because of teh 105 fails entirely, because it didn't eliminate Catfish. Which means the writers have every right, based on existing precedent, to look more deeply -- and when they do, they find a lot to like about Morris, and rightfully so.
   30. AROM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4040207)
Just as long as they dig in the right places. Gotta make sure they never get curious about how much of his record was influenced by great teammates.
   31. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4040221)
Gotta make sure they never get curious about how much of his record was influenced by great teammates.

That's an interesting set of alternative histories for aficianados, but I'm not sure they should impact Hall of Fame voting. When all's said and done, some of what happens in a player's career, for both good and bad, is out of his hands. The '91 Twins go to the World Series -- mostly out of Morris's control. He shows enough to get picked by TK to pitch Games 1, 4, and 7 -- to a large extent within Morris's control, but certainly not entirely. Pitching a masterpiece for the ages in Game 7 -- mostly in Morris's control, but Lonnie Smith and TK letting him go out for the 9th and 10th. Morris proving he should go out for the 9th and 10th -- materially, but not entirely, in his control.

And so it goes. Life isn't lived asocially; team sports are played with other people, and managers, GMs and owners make career-impacting decisions. Most of us make our peace with that and move on.
   32. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4040224)
That's even more reason not to expect the writers to draw an ERA+ in/out line. There's really no precedent for them to do that, nor should they.

I'm not using Catfish as a comp; I'm saying that the claim that Morris should be out because of teh 105 fails entirely, because it didn't eliminate Catfish.



Did the stat ERA+ even exist when Catfish was elected (I really don't know; anyone?)? If it didn't - or if it wasn't widely known at the time - it would make sense for a writer to consider it now even if they hadn't before. It's not really fair to critique past selections using statistics that weren't around when the selection was made.
   33. AROM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4040233)
Another guideline for those looking deeper into Jack's career: look at the 1991 postseason. But stay clear of 1992.
   34. GuyM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4040237)
That's even more reason not to expect the writers to draw an ERA+ in/out line.

I agree that a lot of voters won't care about ERA+ (or even know what it is). But writers certainly understand ERA, which is perhaps the single stat on which traditionalists and saberists can find the most common ground. It is unquestionably the single best measure of pitcher quality among traditional stats, and I don't think many writers would disagree. And if he's elected, Jack Morris' 3.90 ERA will be the worst ERA in the HOF. Not one pitcher has ever been admitted, even by the VC, with an ERA this high. And not many are even in the neighborhood of 3.90. And please don't talk about context -- Morris threw less than 300 innings after 1992 (7% of his total), so the 90s offensive explosion had a very small impact on his career record.

If Morris' ERA were 4.00, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all -- he simply wouldn't be taken seriously. And yet how much better is 3.90? Not very damn much....

   35. Jacob Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4040245)
If Morris' ERA were 4.00, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all -- he simply wouldn't be taken seriously. And yet how much better is 3.90? Not very damn much....


3824.0IP/9I=424.89G
424.89*0.1=42.489R

4 wins?
   36. BDC Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4040246)
Did the stat ERA+ even exist when Catfish was elected

The concept of ERA relative to one's league certainly existed, if not the precise calculation. Hard as it is to imagine now, back in 1968 an ERA of 3.00 was literally mediocre (the entire AL had an ERA of 2.98 that year). Hunter's ERA, as AROM points out, was excellent over a short stretch in the early 70s, but of all pitchers who threw 1000 or more innings from 1965 through 1980 (the span of Hunter's career), he was 37th in overall ERA. People knew that at the time, and as with Morris's equally unimpressive ERA, they really didn't care. Hunter was a winner and that was enough.
   37. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4040247)
I don't agree. For one thing, if a guy who belongs doesn't get in, there are 14 more chances to argue for them. (And that's not even including the V.C.) If a guy who doesn't belong does get in, that's it; no reversing it.

And it's not harmless; if you let in people who don't belong -- and I don't mean borderline guys like Andre Dawson, but total jokes like Morris -- then it diminishes the honor of getting in for those who do.


I guess I would rather give Raines et. al. the well-deserved opportunity to make induction speeches than concern myself with the sanctity of the Hall. Having Morris in might diminish that sanctity for most of us, but I don't think you'd find a major league alive who feels the honour of being inducted is diminished by having Morris or some other less-than-worthy (from an on-field performance viewpoint) player being in. This isn't the same thing as a college removing honours distinction and giving the exact same degree to a guy who got Cs as they do to the guy who got A+ in everything.
   38. Squash Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4040250)
Morris is going into the HOF because the voters WANT him in there, statistics be damned. And that bugs me.

That's what bugs me as well. It's sloppy thinking, and sloppy thinking should be opposed, whatever the forum.
   39. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4040252)
Hunter's ERA, as AROM points out, was excellent over a short stretch in the early 70s, but of all pitchers who threw 1000 or more innings from 1965 through 1980 (the span of Hunter's career), he was 37th in overall ERA. People knew that at the time, and as with Morris's equally unimpressive ERA, they really didn't care. Hunter was a winner and that was enough.

True, but I'm still not entirely convinced that Hunter is a good comp, since like you mentioned, he really was very good for a short stretch at his peak. And that peak - which Morris never had - may very well be what got him into the Hall. Hell, Morris never had a SINGLE season with a sub 3.00 ERA. Better comps than Hunter would be guys like David Wells or Jamie Moyer (and of course, the always mentioned Frank Tanana and Denny Martinez).
   40. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4040258)
Better comps than Hunter would be guys like David Wells or Jamie Moyer (and of course, the always mentioned Frank Tanana and Denny Martinez).

Wells didn't win as many games, Moyer wasn't an ace and simply wasn't as good, Tanana and Martinez and Reuschel didn't win as many games and didn't have as good a winning percentage. None had Game 7, or postseasons like '84 and '91.

Quibble about the validity of these distinctions, but distinguishing these candidates is straightforward and simple. Should the distinction lead to Morris in the Hall of Fame, the others not even in the conversation? Probably not. The writers can be legitimately faulted for gaps in perception of this magnitude; they show the same fault with Sandberg/Whitaker, Ozzie/Trammell, and likely several others. They aren't drawing proper distinctions and gradations between the two extremes.
   41. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4040261)
Hunter was a winner and that was enough.


And if it wasn't, having the name "Catfish" probably didn't hurt.

Tanana and Martinez and Reuschel didn't win as many games and didn't have as good a winning percentage. None had Game 7, or postseasons like '84 and '91.


I'll see your Game 7 and raise you a perfect game.
   42. DanG Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4040262)
Did the stat ERA+ even exist when Catfish was elected (I really don't know; anyone?)? If it didn't - or if it wasn't widely known
ERA+ (aka Adjusted ERA) became widely available for all players with the publication of the first edition of Total Baseball in 1989. This stat had first come to my awareness five years earlier as "Normalized ERA" in The Hidden Game of Baseball by Thorn and Palmer.

I believe the calculation of park effects has been improved since then, but thru 1988 Morris is shown as having an ERA+ of 113, while never ranking among the top five in the league in any season.
   43. Martin Hemner Posted: January 19, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4040297)
At this point, if you're inclined to rant and rave about the Hall of Fame and the voting therefor (and lord knows I am), it just seems to me your time is better spent arguing for guys who really do belong and risk being unfairly forgotten -- your Trammells and Raineses and Edgars and Bagwells -- than against a guy like Morris who doesn't.

Morris emerged as the counterpoint to Blyleven for years. With Bert now in the Hall, Morris' candidacy no longer makes a lot of sense since his win totals and big game performance aren't being compared to Blyleven anymore. However, as is human nature, so many people have committed to Morris over the past few years that they aren't just going to back down from their anti-Blyleven positions. There will be others like Rosenthal, who, out of respect for Morris as a person, will vote for him to go in just to put this to rest and let the guy have his day in the sun.

Blyleven's election is such a great victory for the stats community that if the price is Morris, I will happily pay it.
   44. GuyM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4040303)
Wells didn't win as many games, Moyer wasn't an ace and simply wasn't as good, Tanana and Martinez and Reuschel didn't win as many games and didn't have as good a winning percentage.... distinguishing these candidates is straightforward and simple.

It's "straightforward and simple" if you are reasoning backward from a conclusion, and looking to justify a Morris yes/other guys no position. It is virtually impossible to make a good-faith effort to establish reasonable criteria for supporting pitchers for the HOF, and then to discover that Jack Morris has met your standards.
   45. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4040312)
Morris emerged as the counterpoint to Blyleven for years. With Bert now in the Hall, Morris' candidacy no longer makes a lot of sense since his win totals and big game performance aren't being compared to Blyleven anymore.

Or it makes more sense since, fundamentally, many writers believe that Morris was as "good" -- in the essential, if not numerical, sense of the term -- as Blyleven. With Bert not yet in, that drove both pro-Morris and anti-Blyleven sentiment. Now, with Blyleven in, Morris is seen as just as "good" as a Hall of Famer -- so why not put him in the Hall of Fame?
   46. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4040328)
SBB, you are dogged, I'll give you that.
   47. John Northey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4040374)
Lets do some traditional stats matching. These are things most voters probably looked at.

20+ Wins....
Morris: 3 times
Martinez: 0 times (max of 16 - this kills him)
Tanana: 0 times (max of 19)
Reuschel: 1 time
Catfish: 5 times
Sutton: 1 time (almost killed him iirc)
Stieb: 0 times (max of 18)

ERA sub 3 (generally viewed as impressive)
Morris: 0 times (best of 3.05, best ERA+ was 133)
Martinez: 4 times (5th with just 28 IP)
Tanana: 3 times
Reuschel: 4 times
Catfish: 5 times
Sutton: 8 times
Stieb: 3 times

Black Ink (lead in something - many writers don't know what 'black ink' means but do their own version I'm sure)
Morris: 20
Martinez: 17
Tanana: 9 (this kills him)
Reuschel: 7 (this kills him)
Catfish: 26
Sutton: 8 (this almost killed him)
Stieb: 17

All Star Games (viewed strongly when playing)
Morris: 5 times (3 starts)
Martinez: 4 times
Tanana: 3 times
Reuschel: 3 times (1 start)
Catfish: 8 times (1 start)
Sutton: 4 times (1 start - NL pitchers were 3 HOF, Reuschel & Gary Lavelle)
Stieb: 7 times (2 starts)

I added Stieb as he is often listed as the true 'best of the 80's' if you exclude guys like Clemens & Gooden.

Sutton was hurt a lot by the lack of 20 win seasons (which I'm sure killed off both Stieb and Martinez as far as many voters were concerned) and an amazing lack of black ink (also hurting Reuschel and Tanana). Never having an ERA sub 3.00 has to be a big hurt for Morris (goes with his 3.90 lifetime) but many voters seem to buy the 'pitching to the score' no matter how much it is shown to have not happened (at least no more so than it does for any other ML pitcher).

I was very surprised to see how well Morris does on the black ink score though. Twice leading in wins (big), once each in complete games/shutouts/strikeouts/innings/batters faced/walks allowed/earned runs allowed, twice in starts, six times in wild pitches. Points were via 4 per win title/strikeouts/ERA, 3 per win IP/win%/saves, 2 for complete games/lowest BB per 9/lowest H per 9, one for appearances/starts/shutouts.

I can see how Morris ended up becoming the representative for the 80's pitching group of Tanana/Reuschel/Stieb/Martinez/etc. as he had enough in total wins and in All Star Games and Black Ink while still getting the mandatory 20 win seasons. Don't agree with it but doing this digging does help explain it a bit.
   48. DanG Posted: January 19, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4040395)
SBB has done a fine job of explaining the mind-set of the pro-Morris voters. At the same time he realizes that the only statistical arguments in favor of Morris are of the "lowest common denominator" type in relation to pitchers currently in the HOF. I also believe he realizes that much of the narrative supporting Morris' case is a mythos that fails under close scrutiny.

So the Cooperstown-bound Morris train is substantially a whistle-stop, politically-charged juggernaut riding a populist track. Those of us who care about HOF standards must aim our strategies at this tribal-based support in order to slow the train's progress, in order to reroute its final destination to the Veterans Committee station.
   49.  Hey Gurl Posted: January 19, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4040414)

That's what bugs me as well. It's sloppy thinking, and sloppy thinking should be opposed, whatever the forum.


Yes.

Intellectual laziness should not be championed.
   50. Walt Davis Posted: January 19, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4040442)
the BBWAA puts an undeserving player in the Hall. It's not the first time, it's unlikely to be the last, and he's far from the least deserving they've ever enshrined.

I'm not sure that last bit is true actually. When I think of the worst BBWAA selections, it's Dean, Hunter, Brock, Perez, Puckett, Sutter, Rice. I'm probably forgetting somebody (one could round out with Gossage, Dawson, etc.) It's slicing it pretty thin and my first instinct is Morris would not be "the least" but he's certainly not "far from the least."

As to "why argue against Morris?" Well, nobody was until probably his 8th year on the ballot because Morris was going nowhere. The "anti-Morris" movement is strictly a reaction to the pro-Morris movement which uses a mix of traditional counting stats, poor arguments, cherry-picking, key buzz words and uses him as a tool to try to bash the statnerds over the head. Expecting a statnerd website to take the attitude of "good for you Jack!" under those circumstances is like expecting us to sit back and say "to each their own" as you try to argue that Madeleine Albright is the hottest chick in the world.

But I don't see anybody _campaigning_ against Morris. Lederer went out of his way to contact HoF voters, wrote several long pieces, looked at it in 1,000 different ways and became well-known among writers and even to Blyleven. Nobody's showing that level of passion for or against Morris, we're just blowing off steam on a baseball website.

And Morris's voting history puts the lie to much of what SBB tosses about. The vast majority of the voters didn't consider him some sort of indomitable, clutch ace when he hit the ballot. They weren't impressed by his win total, winning percentage, number of opening day starts, "best pitcher of the 80s" then.

Morris debuted at 22%, behind Sutter, Gossage, John and Kaat just among pitchers. The latter two, generally facing much tougher competition on the ballot (300-game winner after 300-game winner) had debuted at the same level Morris did. In his 5th year he bumped up to 26%. At this point he is still behind Sutter, Gossage, Lee Smith and Blyleven (by nearly 10 points). He's just ahead of the plummeting Garvey and he's also now ahead of John in his 10th year.

So as of 2004, the voters see him as Tommy John and as less valuable than the closers. 2004 was the year Eck was elected so closers other than Smith were about to skyrocket. In 2005 he gets a nice bump to 33% and his climb has begun and he now has a 10 point gap on John but is still behind those other 4 pitchers.

Point being that it's not that "we" have the arduous task of getting voters to give up on the traditional concept of "ace", "win" or "reputation" ... it's that the pro-Morris folks somehow suckered other voters into believing those terms applied to Morris to an unusual degree when they did not. Morris simply was not an HoF-level "ace" by any traditional definition thereof. His "win" total is not impressive for an HoF-level starter. His "reputation" is a single, great game.

Morris does not meet the traditional standards for an HoF starter. Morris's HoF voting history is partly explained by standard HoF voting phenomena -- reasonable counting stats combined with a long-run of weak pitching ballots -- and a rather odd social phenomenon going on within the BBWAA and baseball analysis more generally.

Anyway, he's a shoo-in by the VC at least.



   51. base ball chick Posted: January 19, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4040486)
the voters seem determined to put in borderline guys to prove how they then can sneer at the greater players.

lately, we've had a lot of elections of guys who are not exactly top hall of famers - sutter, gossage, rice, dawson, blylevin,

last inner circle guy to go in was The Rickey and he was 3 years ago. no wonder interest and attendance are decreasing.

seems that the writers are obsessed with voting in guys who were from a time when the writers counted, and not the stats

and now they are determined to have a Hall without barry lamar bonds, roger clemens - and i say, you prefer jack morris to roger clemens as a hall of famer and you expect me as a baseball fan to have even the slightest bit of interest or respect for what you say or do, like WHY?

and no it has nothing to do with the astros. i'd feel the same way if they wanted to put in jimmy wynn instead of bagwell. wynn was good, but no bagwell.


   52. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4040492)
I can see how Morris ended up becoming the representative for the 80's pitching group of Tanana/Reuschel/Stieb/Martinez/etc. as he had enough in total wins and in All Star Games and Black Ink while still getting the mandatory 20 win seasons. Don't agree with it but doing this digging does help explain it a bit.

See, I could understand if these guys were all borderline candidates and they used Morris's black ink or game 7 to put him over the top. But I don't understand how it could make such a leap between getting elected to the HOF or getting no consideration whatsoever and dropping off the ballot after a single shot. Because it's not like Morris's best comps were guys like John and Kaat who were never elected but at least hung around for the duration garnering discussion. His best comps were immediately dismissed as being unworthy without a second thought. A few extra wins or all star starts and even a historic game 7 shouldn't be able to make up the difference between a HOFer and a single ballot one-and-done courtesy candidate.
   53. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4040527)
And Morris's voting history puts the lie to much of what SBB tosses about. The vast majority of the voters didn't consider him some sort of indomitable, clutch ace when he hit the ballot. They weren't impressed by his win total, winning percentage, number of opening day starts, "best pitcher of the 80s" then.

Morris debuted at 22%, behind Sutter, Gossage, John and Kaat just among pitchers. The latter two, generally facing much tougher competition on the ballot (300-game winner after 300-game winner) had debuted at the same level Morris did. In his 5th year he bumped up to 26%. At this point he is still behind Sutter, Gossage, Lee Smith and Blyleven (by nearly 10 points). He's just ahead of the plummeting Garvey and he's also now ahead of John in his 10th year.


This basically reduces to, "You can't give him credit for his reputation because you didn't elect him right away." That doesn't ring very true. There's no real contradiction between seeing him during his career as an "ace," a "great pitcher," a "dominant" pitcher, a "possible Hall of Famer," or any other noun/adjective you want to use ... and not voting him in right away. Voters take their time with plenty of candidates; if that fact alone isn't held against them, there's no reason to hold it against Morris.

Much of the argument, anyway, is that Morris was seen while he was playing, as better than the numbers he was putting up. Not so much so that the difference made him a slam dunk HOFer -- only a loony tune would argue such a thing -- but that he belonged in the HOF conversation.

Morris's resume got him in the door for an interview and over time he's "interviewed" really well.(**) The other frequently-cited 80s guys sent their resumes in and didn't get an interview. Would I have pitched everyone's resume but Morris's in the trash can? Probably not ... but in the trash can they are. They're really of no import to the issue at hand.

(**) Most likely because of the blank inkish factors noted upthread -- Coke to John Northey -- and Game 7 91//84 postseason. I don't find that in any way outrageous or illegitimate.
   54. Something Other Posted: January 19, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4040548)
I keep going back to Andy Pettitte simply being a much better pitcher than Morris, and to Pettitte's superior postseason record. Pettitte is at best a borderline guy, very probably just outside, and very probably THE definition of a player who should be just outside. And he was a much better pitcher than Morris.

I also keep going back to Jamie Moyer, who had a peak as good as Morris, and whose peak/prime (14 years w 199 wins) is better than Morris's. Moyer's postseason was also similar to Morris's (in that his postseason ERA is right around his career ERA), with the exception of Lonnie Smith's baserunning blunder. Jamie Moyer just isn't a Hall of Famer. Or, I should say, Jamie Moyer just isn't a Hall of Famer, either.

Morris supporters should realize that pushing Morris for the Hall is just like pushing your B+ child to go to Harvard. He's in over his head, and it just makes everyone unhappy.
   55. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4040562)
The writers who are perfectly fine with letting a "lesser" candidate like Jack Morris make it to the HOF with the excuse:

"All that happens is that one guy, who doesn't quite meet the standard, gets in. There are no other real-world consequences. ..."

are the same ones that will lose their minds and write diatribes of venom-filled spite about the idea of inducting Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or Mike Piazza or Jeff Bagwell or Sammy Sosa into their glorious HOF.
   56. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4040575)
I keep going back to Andy Pettitte simply being a much better pitcher than Morris

Never an ace, never a guy you built your rotation and postseason rotation around. Feel free to dissent, but that matters to a lot of people.

And it should.

I also keep going back to Jamie Moyer,

Ditto.

And in Moyer's case, he simply wasn't as good as Morris. Anyone who's followed the sport for a certain number of years -- which includes most of the BBWAA -- understands this without hestitation or reservation.

People are entirely free to dissent from this also, and should be encouraged to do so, but it's a very, very thin case. You aren't going to convince people to keep Jack Morris out of the HOF because Jamie Moyer was either (1) better or (2) more deserving.
   57. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4040609)
I keep going back to Andy Pettitte simply being a much better pitcher than Morris

Never an ace, never a guy you built your rotation and postseason rotation around. Feel free to dissent, but that matters to a lot of people.


The fact that Morris was always the ace of his teams and Pettitte never was despite being a much better pitcher just shows that Morris either A) pitched on some pretty mediocre staffs, or B) was overrated by his managers. Neither of those options are really major points in his favor. If Morris had played on the 90's Braves or late 90's/early 2000's Yankees or last years Phillies for example, he would've been a 4th starter. It shouldn't be a point against Pettitte that he played on teams with a much deeper pitching staff.

You aren't going to convince people to keep Jack Morris out of the HOF because Jamie Moyer was either (1) better or (2) more deserving

I haven't heard anyone say that Moyer was deserving, and that's basically the point - that Moyer clearly ISN'T deserving (isn't even particularly close, in fact), but that he still had a pretty similar career to Morris.
   58. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4040623)
The fact that Morris was always the ace of his teams and Pettitte never was despite being a much better pitcher just shows that Morris either A) pitched on some pretty mediocre staffs, or B) was overrated by his managers. Neither of those options are really major points in his favor.

I disagree. Regularly being made the ace of high-caliber teams is excellent and probative evidence of your reputation and true ability. Nor were the staff's Morris led in any way "mediocre." As previously noted, Cito ran him out #1 ahead of Cone in his prime, Key in his prime, and Juan Guzman in his still young, filthy, and accomplished stage.

It shouldn't be a point against Pettitte that he played on teams with a much deeper pitching staff.

It's not. It's merely the key reason any Morris comp can't and won't work.

I haven't heard anyone say that Moyer was deserving, and that's basically the point - that Moyer clearly ISN'T deserving (isn't even particularly close, in fact), but that he still had a pretty similar career to Morris.

Like Pettitte, Moyer isn't really a Morris comp. There's no reason to continue insisting that he is.

There's nothing really similar in their careers and any similarities are badly outweighed by the differences.


   59. AROM Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4040632)
Most likely because of the blank inkish factors noted upthread


A third of his "black ink" comes from his dominance in leading the league in wild pitches. Let's not pretend this is a good thing.
   60. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4040637)
Didn't the Yankees have some kind of crazy record of losing Game Ones of series then winning Game Twos that Pettitte started during their WS run of the late 90s?

As previously noted, Cito ran him out #1 ahead of Cone in his prime


For which he was rewarded by watching Morris go 0-3, 7.43 after a season in which Morris was outpitched by Cone, Juan Guzman and Jimmy Key. This performance certainly isn't a point for Morris and the decision isn't really much of a point for Cito.
   61. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4040654)
Regularly being made the ace of high-caliber teams is excellent and probative evidence of your reputation and true ability

These are sometimes (and especially in this case) completely different things.

Nor were the staff's Morris led in any way "mediocre." As previously noted, Cito ran him out #1 ahead of Cone in his prime, Key in his prime, and Juan Guzman in his still young, filthy, and accomplished stage.

He probably shouldn't have.

Like Pettitte, Moyer isn't really a Morris comp. There's no reason to continue insisting that he is.

I'm not trying to list players who clearly aren't worthy of the HOF just to rain on Morris's parade. I've been listing guys with numbers that really do look the most similar to me. Which pitchers do you think are Morris's closest comps if you don't think that the likes of Moyer, Wells, Tanana, Reuschel, Martinez, or a poor mans Andy Pettitte are good ones?
   62. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:52 PM (#4040656)
For which he was rewarded by watching Morris go 0-3, 7.43 after a season in which Morris was outpitched by Cone, Juan Guzman and Jimmy Key. This performance certainly isn't a point for Morris and the decision isn't really much of a point for Cito.

That's the basic philospohical divide. I find it very hard to believe (and obviously don't believe) that you can be dubbed an ace for that long by that many organizations by that many quality baseball people without being really, really, really good. My firsthand perceptions and experience confirm the opinions of others.

OTOH, Morris didn't put up the numbers to fully support the opinions -- though they aren't terribly worse.

Not only is it appropriate in my HOF/baseball worldview to consider the perceptions and assignments of role and place -- it's mandatory. While not subscribing to it, the school of thought holding that only production as measured by numbers should be considered is entirely legitimate and not without merit.
   63. Bug Selig Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4040658)
Like Pettitte, Moyer isn't really a Morris comp. There's no reason to continue insisting that he is.


Really?

267 wins, 47.3 WAR, 104 ERA+
254 wins, 39.3 WAR, 105 ERA+

You don't see any kind of similarity there? Statements like this make you seem disingenuous.
   64.  Hey Gurl Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4040666)
And he was the opening day starter for the M's three years in a row!
   65. Bug Selig Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4040671)
Which pitchers do you think are Morris's closest comps if you don't think that the likes of Moyer, Wells, Tanana, Reuschel, Martinez, or a poor mans Andy Pettitte are good ones?


Don't hold your breath for an answer to this.
   66.  Hey Gurl Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4040679)


Don't hold your breath for an answer to this.


That's because Morris is in a class of his own -- a guy who didn't have hall of fame stats, but belongs anyway due to "ace-ish" qualities as specially pleaded by SugarBear.
   67. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM (#4040689)
my HOF/baseball worldview

You don't have a worldview, you have a series of stupid, selectively-applied standards intended to justify your schoolgirl crush from the '80s.
   68. Bug Selig Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4040692)
The "you had to see him" argument falls apart when you consider that the writers who were watching him and fully aware of his honey-sweet otherworldly goodness were so impressed that he didn't get as much Cy love in his career as guys like Hoyt, Denny, Hentgen, John, Lolich, Flanagan, Stewart, Sutcliffe, Hunter, and Saberhagen.

We're not even talking Jim Rice, here.
   69.  Hey Gurl Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4040700)
The "you had to see him" argument falls apart when you consider that the writers who were watching him and fully aware of his honey-sweet otherworldly goodness were so impressed that he didn't get as much Cy love in his career as guys like Hoyt, Denny, Hentgen, John, Lolich, Flanagan, Stewart, Sutcliffe, Hunter, and Saberhagen.


Not to mention his, what, 19% on his first HOF ballot...

You had to see him, and then forget how great he was for 10 years, then remember.
   70. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:47 PM (#4040708)
For which he was rewarded by watching Morris go 0-3, 7.43 after a season in which Morris was outpitched by Cone, Juan Guzman and Jimmy Key. This performance certainly isn't a point for Morris and the decision isn't really much of a point for Cito.

That's the basic philospohical divide. I find it very hard to believe (and obviously don't believe) that you can be dubbed an ace for that long by that many organizations by that many quality baseball people without being really, really, really good. My firsthand perceptions and experience confirm the opinions of others.


Baseball managers make stupid lineup decisions all the time. I love Cito, but he was the all-time king in plugging players into the lineup/rotation and letting them play. Cito also used Joe Carter as a cleanup hitter for many years, as did other managers. Guess that makes Joe a Hall of Famer, too.
   71. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4040709)
Like Pettitte, Moyer isn't really a Morris comp. There's no reason to continue insisting that he is.


OK, Rick Reuschel then. You want aceish qualities, he's got them in spades. Undisputed ace of the Cubs in the 70's, also the top pitcher on his Pirates and Giants teams in the 80's. By the numbers, better peak and better career than Morris. In a way he's the anti Morris. His greatness in the 70's is masked by some comically inept Cubs teams. he even managed a 14-8 record with a 105 loss Pirate team. Give him Morris's support and his 214-191 record is probably something like 240-160. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Morris is better than Reuschel. But if he is, it's not by much. Reuschel got 2 votes his one time on the ballot.

Or David Cone. Now there's a guy you'd build a rotation around, and many teams traded for him to do just that. Jack has game 7? Cone has a perfect game. He is a little light in the career numbers, but he packed more value into his 2900 IP than Morris did in his 3800. Due to his overwhelming advantage in ERA, the difference between the 2 amounts to way less than replacement value, 926 IP at 55 ERA+. Add 6 seasons like Morris's 1993 (152 IP 6.19 ERA), and Cone still would have a better career ERA+. Cone got 21 votes

Neither Reuschel nor Cone belong in the HOF.
   72. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 19, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4040715)
Give him Morris's support and his 214-191 record is probably something like 240-160.


Just a small example:

Jack Morris 1992 240 IP 102 ERA+ 5.56 run/game support 21-6 record.

Rick Reuschel 1973 237 IP 131 ERA+ 3.30 runs/game support 14-15 record.

edit: league run context was about the same. AL in 1992 averaged 4.3 runs per game and Toronto was a good hitter's park. NL averaged 4.15 runs per game and Wrigley was an ever better hitter's park.
   73. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4040733)

Not to mention his, what, 19% on his first HOF ballot...


It's probably best not to mention it, because it doesn't really build on the point made above it.

Regardless whether the Cy voters gave him as much "love" as John Denny or LaMarr Hoyt or most of those guys listed, it's undeniable that upon becoming eligible for the Hall, Morris got overwhelmingly more support than all but two of them. That whatever plaudits they received on an individual season basis, Jack was viewed as the better overall pitcher upon examination of their full careers right from the get-go. Other than John and Hunter, all of those guys fell off the ballot immediately, while more than 1/5 of the electorate voted for Jack (who started at 22 percent, though did dip to 19 percent in Year 2).

There is nothing about his starting spot that is damning. He got the kind of initial support that perceived borderline candidates usually get upon debuting. Some of them build from there, others tumble (sometimes all the way off the ballot) and others just kind of hang around the same level year after year. His went up. Shouldn't have, obviously, since he's fundamentally not worthy of the Hall of Fame. But his initial support is no more illustrative of his Hall unworthiness than Bert's 17 percent showing in his maiden appearance was of his.

   74. base ball chick Posted: January 19, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4040734)
Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: January 19, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4040689)

my HOF/baseball worldview

You don't have a worldview, you have a series of stupid, selectively-applied standards intended to justify your schoolgirl crush from the '80s.


- um, no

my schoolgrrrl crush in the 80s was kevin bass and even i don't think he is a hall of famer and i was heartbroken when he went to the giants

i doubt i even noticed roger clemens, who is and was an ugly White guy, back in the 80s, and besides the first White guy i ever had a crush on is brad ausomeness and i was a teenager then, not a little kid.

i didn't REALLY discover barry lamar' HOTTTTTTTTness until 89 or 90. but barry lamar being one of the best 10 position players of all times, which is what he is, has nothing to do with what he looks like.
   75. DanG Posted: January 19, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4040735)
Which pitchers do you think are Morris's closest comps
Here's a list of pitchers from the past century with similar career IP (3324-4324), WAR (+30) and ERA+ (101-111) to Morris:

Rk            Player  WAR ERA+     IP From   To SHO   W   L
1      Jerry Koosman 58.8  110 3839.1 1967 1985  33 222 209
2       Frank Tanana 55.1  106 4188.1 1973 1993  34 240 236
3        David Wells 50.7  108 3439.0 1987 2007  12 239 157
4         Bob Friend 48.9  107 3611.0 1951 1966  36 197 230
5        Jamie Moyer 47.3  104 4020.1 1986 2010  10 267 204
6    Dennis Martinez 46.9  106 3999.2 1976 1998  30 245 193
7        Bobo Newsom 45.9  107 3759.1 1929 1953  31 211 222
8      Mickey Lolich 45.6  105 3638.1 1963 1979  41 217 191
9          Vida Blue 43.8  108 3343.1 1969 1986  37 209 161
10      Curt Simmons 42.6  111 3348.1 1947 1967  36 193 183
11     Claude Osteen 39.8  104 3460.2 1957 1975  40 196 195
'12      Jack Morris 39.3  105 3824.0 1977 1994  28 254 186'
13     Charlie Hough 37.5  107 3801.1 1970 1994  13 216 216
14   Burleigh Grimes 37.2  108 4180.0 1916 1934  35 270 212 H
15      Herb Pennock 36.9  106 3571.2 1912 1934  35 241 162 H
16    Paul Derringer 35.5  108 3645.0 1931 1945  32 223 212
17    Catfish Hunter 32.5  105 3449.1 1965 1979  42 224 166 H
18   Doyle Alexander 31.9  103 3367.2 1971 1989  18 194 174
19     Sad Sam Jones 30.1  104 3883.0 1914 1935  36 229 217 

To make the HOF from this group you absolutely have to have strong teams to pick you up. Part of the HOF narrative is about honoring the greatest players from great teams. But for Morris the HOF missed all of his better teammates (Trammell, Whitaker, Evans; even Lemon and Parrish were better) from his Detroit prime. As a Tiger fan that's the bigger shame.
   76. JPWF1313 Posted: January 19, 2012 at 08:24 PM (#4040771)
Because it's not like Morris's best comps were guys like John and Kaat who were never elected but at least hung around for the duration garnering discussion. His best comps were immediately dismissed as being unworthy without a second thought.

Here's a list of pitchers from the past century with similar career IP (3324-4324), WAR (+30) and ERA+ (101-111) to Morris:


and the majority of BBWAA voters do not look at WAR or ERA+

here's Morris BBREF similarity comps
Dennis Martinez (903)
Bob Gibson (885) *
Luis Tiant (873)
Jamie Moyer (873)
Red Ruffing (860) *
Amos Rusie (859) *
Chuck Finley (859)
Burleigh Grimes (855) *
Bob Feller (855) *
Jim Bunning (854

5 HOFers
the average W-L is 247-187 (Morris was 254-186) the average ERA was 3.50, Morris was 3.90, and yes many traditionalists do look at that- and held and still hold that against Morris, but sadly many have become acclimated to higher ERAS over the last 15-20 years...

his top two BBREF comps, Martinez and Gibson- most BBWAA voters will recognize that there is a huge gap between Gibson and Martinez- but they would not recognize that no appreciable gap exist between Morris and Martinez- they;d put him in between-- and closer to Gibson.
   77. DanG Posted: January 19, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4040776)
the majority of BBWAA voters do not look at WAR or ERA+
Of course, that will still be true for a few more years. That's why I usually mention the team angle, that a pitcher's WL record is a product of his teammates' quality. Which is why I stress again: "To make the HOF from this (Morris') group you absolutely have to have strong teams to pick you up."
   78. TDF, situational idiot Posted: January 19, 2012 at 08:54 PM (#4040794)
I'd argue that a vote for Morris, at least on the just announced ballot and the next two, does indeed cheapen the HOF.

A voter only gets 10 spots on his ballot. To vote for Morris, you'd have to leave off someone more deserving.
   79. Jittery McFrog Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:26 PM (#4040806)
I'm not sure that last bit is true actually. When I think of the worst BBWAA selections, it's Dean, Hunter, Brock, Perez, Puckett, Sutter, Rice. I'm probably forgetting somebody (one could round out with Gossage, Dawson, etc.) It's slicing it pretty thin and my first instinct is Morris would not be "the least" but he's certainly not "far from the least."


I think this is right. As far as I see, the only BBWAA selection Morris is notably better than is Sutter, but even at that it's an apples/oranges comparison.

Most of the bad selections have come from the VC. This Morris business is actually rather uncharacteristic of the writers, who overall have tended more towards bad omissions than bad selections.
   80. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4040815)
When I think of the worst BBWAA selections, it's Dean, Hunter, Brock, Perez, Puckett, Sutter, Rice.

I wouldn't have voted for those last two, maybe not Perez, and I wouldn't vote for Morris. But if I ever need to remember the reason I'm glad that the Hall of Fame hasn't been reduced to a Hall of Statistical Spreadsheets, I'll think of that sentiment you just expressed. I can live with the occasional Morris or Sutter to leave room for Dean, Hunter, Brock, Gossage and Puckett.

------------------------------------------------

Most of the bad selections have come from the VC. This Morris business is actually rather uncharacteristic of the writers, who overall have tended more towards bad omissions than bad selections.

Exactly. Their biggest mistakes have been with players like Whitaker, Trammell and Raines.
   81. cardsfanboy Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:47 PM (#4040819)
I can live with the occasional Morris or Sutter to leave room for Dean, Hunter, Brock, Gossage and Puckett.


I can see Brock, and maybe Puckett, but even as a lifelong Cardinal fan, I don't see Dean in there without his personality, and I'm not sure that is enough.
   82. Booey Posted: January 19, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4040827)
Since all the best players on the 2012 HOF ballot were holdovers, it wouldn't have bothered me as much if all of them had been elected when they first became eligible and the writers chose to elect Morris on a weak ballot consisting of Mattingly, Murphy, Lee Smith, Juan Gone, etc, and a mediocre group of newcomers headlined by Bernie Williams. I could understand why they might conclude that he was the best of that bunch (still might disagree, but whatever).

But to elect him and only him - which is a very real possibility - on next years ballot, a ballot that contains at least a dozen of the top 100 players of all time, while Morris himself probably isn't in the top 200? That's just indefensible.
   83. Jacob Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4040833)
at least a dozen of the top 100 players of all time


...At least a dozen? How do you figure?
   84. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4040834)
I think DanG's observation is pretty spot on - I doubt Morris has an argument if he performs at about the same level but plays for a lesser team.

It's actually six HOFers in Morris's similarity scores - Bunning is also in the Hall. (I actually like Bunning as a comp to Morris, even though Bunning's overall numbers are better - they had very similar reputations over their careers although Bunning doesn't have any postseason numbers, of course.)

Looking strictly at aggregate numbers - even W/L, which makes him look a lot better - does Morris a disservice. We have the tools available to take finer-grained looks at performance, thanks to Retrosheet - we can look at how Morris did with the support he was *actually* given, compared to how other pitchers - and specifically other HoF caliber pitchers - did given those same levels of run support.

Here's an example of what I like to do:

Over the course of their careers, when lasting long enough for their hitters to bat in six innings and score three runs, here's how Blyleven and Morris compare:

Blyleven: 85 starts, 46-13 with 26 no-decisions, 653 1/3 IP, 2.33 ERA
Morris: 75 starts, 43-19 with 13 no-decisions, 587 IP, 3.08 ERA

Advantage Blyleven.

When I do the same comparison over eight innings, three runs (which obviously includes some of the games above):

Blyleven: 41 starts, 19-13, 9 no-decisions, 345 2/3 IP, 2.53 ERA
Morris: 42 starts, 24-10, 8 no-decisions, 347 IP, 2.28 ERA

Advantage Morris.

And when you look at how they did over eight innings with five or more runs scored for them (which is a win for the starter almost all of the time):

Blyleven: 127 starts, 116-2, 9 no-decisions, 1103 IP, 1.99 ERA (which is easily the best performance of any of the pitchers at which I have looked)
Morris: 123 starts, 110-3, 10 no-decisions, 1018 1/3 IP, 2.85 ERA (which is still a relatively good performance, and really belies the "pitching to the score" thing)

Here's the thing - because Blyleven and Morris pitched well when they had a large number of runs, they both fare poorly when compared to HoF-caliber contemporaries and near-contemporaries when they were not so well-supported - and that is my primary rationale for keeping both of them out of the HoF. They tend to be at the bottom of any game-level run-support analysis I do; they simply did a relatively poor job of converting the runs that they were given into wins, even when compared to lesser pitchers of their own era, let alone to guys like Tiant and Cone and Saberhagen. In that respect, they are more like each other than they are different.

-- MWE
   85. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4040839)
I can see Brock, and maybe Puckett, but even as a lifelong Cardinal fan, I don't see Dean in there without his personality, and I'm not sure that is enough.

I'm not a Cardinals fan, but read a good Dean bio or two, or Roy Stockton's book on the Gashouse Gang, and see if you still feel the same way. Dean's combination of peak value, postseason performance and just plain Dizziness make him an easy HoFer in my book. The HoM is another story, but that's why I'm glad that the HoF has its own methods and standards of selection, even if I don't always agree with their choices.
   86. Squash Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4040847)
seems that the writers are obsessed with voting in guys who were from a time when the writers counted, and not the stats

I think we have a winner.
   87. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:44 PM (#4040855)
At least a dozen? How do you figure?


Edgar Martinez is 100th all time in WAR and 6th on the ballot next year with 67.2 WAR. However, numbers 7-12 on the ballot are within 4 WAR of Edgar (Trammell, Biggio, Palmeiro, Lofton, Raines, McGwire) and Sosa and Piazza are 13&14;.

That's just one measure of course but Booey isn't that far off. I think it's overstated because the WAR list next year is really

Bonds
Clemens
big gap
Bagwell
gap
11 players separate by less than 10 WAR.

I'm not advocating using WAR as the sole arbiter, just using an easy marker. Depending on what you value and what kind of credits you give for era, war (as WW II), peak vs. career and position it's possible that anywhere from 6-14 of the top 100 players are on the ballot next year.
   88. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 19, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4040857)
Moyer wasn't an ace and simply wasn't as good

Moyer had the most wins on the team that had the most wins ever.

Your move.
   89. cardsfanboy Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM (#4040864)
At least a dozen? How do you figure?


As pointed out, maybe an overstatement, but you have two inner circle guys in Bonds and Clemens, arguable top five players at their position in McGwire, Bagwell and Piazza. And then a bunch of second tier clear hof(non-steroid disclaimer) in Biggio, Trammell, Palmeiro and Raines. With Sosa also in the discussion. You don't really get into the debateables until you hit Edgar(who as pointed out is 100th all time in war) and Walker both of which are clearly ahead of Morris in value. Heck you have Lee Smith on the ballot who is in the conversation for top 10 closer of all time(sure that is about as meaningless as best dh of all time, but still it's a point if that is a position that a voter felt needed to be represented)
   90. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:05 PM (#4040865)
Moyer had the most wins on the team that had the most wins ever.

Your move.


Wasn't their ace, didn't pitch Opening Day, didn't pitch Game 1 of the ALDS, wasn't their No. 1 starter.

Since the team's ace also had the best year among the starters, he didn't even win the Dan Petry/Scott Erickson Memorial '"Ace" in Retrospect" Award.

Fish in a barrel.
   91. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM (#4040868)
Moyer had the most wins on the team that had the most wins ever.

Jamie Moyer was a Harlem Globetrotter?
   92. alilisd Posted: January 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM (#4040886)
arguable top five players at their position in McGwire


How is this arguable?
   93. Booey Posted: January 20, 2012 at 12:34 AM (#4040896)
at least a dozen of the top 100 players of all time


...At least a dozen? How do you figure?



I might have overstated it a bit, but lets see (in no particular order):

Bonds
Clemens
Bagwell
Piazza
Biggio
McGwire

The above would all make it for sure. And then:

Raines
Trammell
Palmeiro
Sosa
Walker
Schilling

All have a pretty good argument. And maybe even Edgar too. So yeah, I wasn't too far off.


Edit: And according to WAR, maybe Lofton is in the discussion too, though I'm not sure I completely buy that. He's actually one of the main examples I use to question WAR. Still, the point stands.
   94. Jacob Posted: January 20, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4040900)
How is this arguable?


I wouldn't put him in the top 5, maybe top 10. He does have the most HRs for a 1st baseman though.
   95. Jacob Posted: January 20, 2012 at 12:41 AM (#4040905)
All have a pretty good argument. And maybe even Edgar too. So yeah, I wasn't too far off.


I'll give you the 1st 4 you listed.

Bonds
Clemens
Bagwell
Piazza

That's it.
   96. Booey Posted: January 20, 2012 at 12:58 AM (#4040915)
I'll give you the 1st 4 you listed.

Bonds
Clemens
Bagwell
Piazza

That's it.



Well, then your list is WAY different than mine. I don't know if you've packed your top 100 with Negro Leaguers or 19th century players or what, but I can't imagine a top 100 that doesn't include at least McGwire and Biggio.
   97. Booey Posted: January 20, 2012 at 01:02 AM (#4040919)
Besides, it's splitting hairs. If McGwire and Biggio don't make your top 100, then where does Morris rank? Top 300, if that? The whole point was to illustrate just how far down the list of candidates on that ballot he actually ranks.
   98. Jacob Posted: January 20, 2012 at 01:09 AM (#4040922)
I can't imagine a top 100 that doesn't include at least McGwire and Biggio.


Well, you don't have to look very far. BBRs WAR has Biggio at 107 & McGwire at 131. And, there's better players below 100 WAR such as Joe Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax & Yogi Berra. Not to mention Negro Leaugers (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, etc).


The whole point was to illustrate just how far down the list of candidates on that ballot he actually ranks.


Okay, then.
   99. Booey Posted: January 20, 2012 at 01:15 AM (#4040926)
Well, you don't have to look very far. BBRs WAR has Biggio at 107 & McGwire at 131. And, there's better players below 100 WAR such as Joe Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax & Yogi Berra. Not to mention Negro Leaugers (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, etc).

Is your list just a copied and pasted list of WAR? Mine sure isn't. Jackson, Robinson, Koufax, Berra, and McGwire would all make my top 100. Peak matters too (and in Berra's case, he's a catcher, and WAR hates catchers).
   100. Jacob Posted: January 20, 2012 at 01:17 AM (#4040927)
No, I was implying that Jackson, Robinson, Koufax & Berra would make my list. I'm not sure about McGwire.
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