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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Verducci: Morris Deserves Spot in Hall of Fame

A lot of people on this site have been asking for a credible Jack Morris Hall of Fame argument.  It won’t convince everyone (especially around here) but Verducci gives it an honest shot. 

 

 

The strength of Morris’ candidacy derives mostly from the volume of his work measured against his peers through this transitional period. He was a workhorse who gobbled up innings as an ace, not just as a rotation filler. Nobody else in his era equaled him in that regard, especially when you talk about the harsher duty in the American League. The Hall of Fame voting, in which Morris has gained support while all others fell away quickly, has reflected this singularity.

Chris Fluit Posted: December 04, 2013 at 01:53 PM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, hall of fame, jack morris, tigers, twins, verducci

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4610528)
It is a credible argument. Or at least, not an unintelligent one:

The problem with Morris' candidacy, however, is that he gave up so many hits and runs that you don't find the superior quality of pitching you typically associate with a Hall of Famer. In his 14-year peak (1979-92), Morris ranked tied for 17th in adjusted ERA (109) among pitchers with 1,500 innings. He never finished among the top four in his league in ERA or WAR and only once did so for WHIP.


But it's almost purely a sentimental argument.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4610533)
1. Game 7 1991

2. winningest of the 80's

3. see #1

lather, rinse, repeat
   3. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4610535)
He was a workhorse who gobbled up innings as an ace, not just as a rotation filler. Nobody else in his era equaled him in that regard, especially when you talk about the harsher duty in the American League.


This might be a more compelling argument if it wasn't for Dennis Martinez, whose career is a pretty good mirror for Jack's*, with much of it in the AL.

* Except in the CG department. But while Jack's career total is pretty impressive compared to those who came up in his time frame (and later), it's more curiosity than a cause for election.

   4. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4610537)
#2 Actually that's not a good characterization of the article, he even says:

attempts to shrink his narrative to a sentence have done more harm than good. People rightly have derided labels such as "he has the most wins in the '80s" (overrated), "he pitched to the score" (not entirely true) and "he threw a 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the World Series" (hello, Dan Larsen).


His argument is basically:

1. There aren't any other pitchers from his era in the hall of fame
2. He was extremely durable
3. He was a badass that you wanted on your team
   5. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4610549)


• Over a 14-year peak (1979-92), Morris gave his manager eight or more innings more than half the time he took the ball (52 percent of his 464 starts).



I don't know why I haven't heard that argument more. It's an extremely strong bit of evidence in favor of Morris as a workhorse. If you put any stock at all into chaining effects, reliever rest, and things of that nature (and experience says you should, no?), then Morris' ability to save the pen had real value that WAR isn't capturing and REW probably isn't either. Further,

* Except in the CG department. But while Jack's career total is pretty impressive compared to those who came up in his time frame (and later), it's more curiosity than a cause for election.


I don't see how or why the ability to finish a ballgame or go deep is treated so lightly.

Morris wasn't a great starter by rate, but he had terrific makeup, several great postseasons, a strong prime, and was a top flight workhorse. Do I think he's a Hall of Famer? Not necessarily, but I do think it's a damn bit closer than some of the more dismissive types care to admit.
   6. Guapo Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4610554)
You have to go back to the first day of spring training that year, when Morris, signed the previous month by Minnesota as a free agent, walked into the camp of a team that finished in last place the previous season and announced, "Men, I'm going to get you guys to the World Series. I'm going to throw the most innings on this team, have the best ERA and win the most games. I will lead you."


O RLY???

I am both baffled and saddened to see how people continually lampoon Morris and those who support his candidacy.


:( Now I feel bad.
   7. AROM Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4610558)
Overall, a good article for a tough job - he's trying to sell Jack's case to a skeptical audience who know the statistics. He does this without being insulting - a tough hurdle for many on the pro and anti Jack sides.

You could probably make a decent case for a guy with big innings totals like Jack to have more value than just the runs he prevented - a guy like that can have spillover effects, keep the bullpen fresh, allow you to bail out other, less durable starters early in the game. Hard to quantify but something worth looking into.

I don't know if that and his postseason record is enough. I'd be on the fence about voting for him if I was allowed to vote for 20-25 players. I definitely can't vote for him as one of 10 spots.

But here, Tom is just making up a quote 20+ years after the fact:

Now you begin to understand that his 10-inning shutout in the 1991 World Series was about more than just one historic game. You have to go back to the first day of spring training that year, when Morris, signed the previous month by Minnesota as a free agent, walked into the camp of a team that finished in last place the previous season and announced, "Men, I'm going to get you guys to the World Series. I'm going to throw the most innings on this team, have the best ERA and win the most games. I will lead you."


No way Jack ever said anything about ERA.

(and for those who don't RTFA, Verducci mentions in the next line that Erickson and Tapani wound up leading in wins and ERA)
   8. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4610560)
• Over a 14-year peak (1979-92), Morris gave his manager eight or more innings more than half the time he took the ball (52 percent of his 464 starts).

I don't know why I haven't heard that argument more. It's an extremely strong bit of evidence in favor of Morris as a workhorse. If you put any stock at all into chaining effects, reliever rest, and things of that nature (and experience says you should, no?), then Morris' ability to save the pen had real value that WAR isn't capturing and REW probably isn't either. Further,

Are you saying getting 4 WAR in a season in 250 IP is more valuable than getting 4 WAR in 150 IP? I'm not following. Can you elaborate?
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4610566)
You have to go back to the first day of spring training that year, when Morris, signed the previous month by Minnesota as a free agent, walked into the camp of a team that finished in last place the previous season and announced, "Men, I'm going to get you guys to the World Series. I'm going to throw the most innings on this team, have the best ERA and win the most games. I will lead you."

even in the dark ages before the internet a statement like this would have gotten some play

can anyone validate that this remark was made?

   10. Morty Causa Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4610567)
Once again, a novel approach to the perennial question. Keep 'em coming.
   11. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4610570)
Now you begin to understand that his 10-inning shutout in the 1991 World Series was about more than just one historic game. You have to go back to the first day of spring training that year, when Morris, signed the previous month by Minnesota as a free agent, walked into the camp of a team that finished in last place the previous season and announced, "Men, I'm going to get you guys to the World Series. I'm going to throw the most innings on this team, have the best ERA and win the most games. I will lead you."

I think if this had actually happened, everyone would have just laughed at him. It's too hokey to be anything but embarrassing.
   12. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4610573)
I can buy the argument that Morris was the greatest workhorse of his time, maybe even of the last 40 years.

But...I mean, even from a traditionalist's standpoint that's a pretty weak argument. Isn't "workhorse" traditionally used as a backhanded compliment? Like, as in, "he's an innings-eating workhorse" as a synonym for "he's not good enough that we can give him a real compliment"?
   13. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4610574)
I don't see how or why the ability to finish a ballgame or go deep is treated so lightly.


It has value, just not enough to make a significant difference between Jack's 527 GS/3,824 IP/105 ERA+ and El Presidente's 562 GS/3,999 IP/106 ERA+ in terms of how we evaluate them.

   14. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4610577)
You have to go back to the first day of spring training that year, when Morris, signed the previous month by Minnesota as a free agent, walked into the camp of only pitchers and catchers of a team that finished in last place the previous season and announced...
   15. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4610578)
Also, if Morris gets in, I'm ok with that for sentimental reasons. I like any player who had that "All Star" stamped on their baseball card in the early 80's. It's too bad players I feel are more deserving aren't being fluffed by the media for this, but that doesn't make me want to throw stones at Morris. He was a good pitcher who had some big moments and really committed to a Magnum PI era moustache. That's not bad!
   16. Blastin Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4610582)
But...I mean, even from a traditionalist's standpoint that's a pretty weak argument. Isn't "workhorse" traditionally used as a backhanded compliment? Like, as in, "he's an innings-eating workhorse" as a synonym for "he's not good enough that we can give him a real compliment"?


Yes. If they mean "He was tough, man!!!!" they should probably go with "bulldog" or something.
   17. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4610585)
Are you saying getting 4 WAR in a season in 250 IP is more valuable than getting 4 WAR in 150 IP? I'm not following. Can you elaborate?


If the missing 100 IP were filled in by a -1 WAR pitcher, then I think that would be the case, wouldn't it?

Taken to extremes, if you had a pitcher throw every inning of every game and provide 4 WAR over that season, that would be more valuable than a pitcher that threw 4 WAR over 150 IP, and left the remaining innings to his terrible teammates (-4 WAR for the rest of them).

Maybe I'm missing something here...
   18. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4610586)
I mean, even from a traditionalist's standpoint that's a pretty weak argument. Isn't "workhorse" traditionally used as a backhanded compliment? Like, as in, "he's an innings-eating workhorse" as a synonym for "he's not good enough that we can give him a real compliment"?

That's the point when I know I'm being bamboozled by a writer making a case for an award or HoF vote.... when they resort to these kinds of manufactured positives that you don't need to make for someone who is a legitimate candidate for the honor. (e.g., Pitcher X is 12-1 following a team loss, Batter Y's team is 88-7 when he drives in a run, etc). Using statistics, as Bill James said, like a drunk uses a light post... for support rather than illumination.
   19. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4610591)
as Bill James said, like a drunk uses a light post... for support rather than illumination.

I use lamp posts for other things when drunk!

You're right, though, Morris' case isn't a statistical one, but one of narrative. I think there's a place for that in the Hall, actually, which is why I'm not gnashing my teeth about Morris.
   20. Morty Causa Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4610602)
As Joe Bob Briggs might say, to make a movie sequel right, make the same damn movie over again. Way to go, guys.
   21. bookbook Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4610605)
*He was a workhorse who gobbled up innings as an ace, not just as a rotation filler*

This is the crux of the argument for me, and of the refutation thereof. Based on perception, he may have been an ace, but he never really pitched like an ace for any extended period of time. (Using an ERA+ of 109 over an extended peak as an argument in favor of enshrinement? Really?)

As a workhorse who gobbled up innings as a #2 he was both extremely valuable and quite a bit short of the standards of HOF induction.

By being kind of on the border for so many years, at least in the votes if not on the merits, his career has won more notice and nostalgia than any run-of-the-mill HOFer anyway. It's time to move on.
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4610619)
Do the people who feel Rafael Palmeiro doesn't belong because a number of 1B of his era put up good numbers also feel that Morris DOES belong because relatively few pitchers of his era (the 80s) matched Morris's numbers for the decade?

Because I haven't seen a lot of support for Morris here, which is logically inconsistent with the arguments against Palmeiro.
   23. morineko Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4610633)
Verducci mentions in the next line that Erickson and Tapani wound up leading in wins and ERA


I can't get the article to load, so I can't RTFA, but--Tapani's apparent production dropped off due to the changing offensive environment, no? He had that year in '91 that looked like he was going to be some sort of minor superstar but his "traditional" numbers after 1991 look awful. But compared to the rest of the league, they're normal, and nothing really changed with his strikeout rate from 1989-1999 and walk rate throughout his career. (The K/9 went up in 2000 and 2001, but that's also a changing offensive environment.)

Why, yes, I can try to make a Jack Morris HoF thread into one about Kevin Tapani...or about 1990s sillyball, take your pick.
   24. Karl from NY Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4610637)
I don't see how or why the ability to finish a ballgame or go deep is treated so lightly.

Because it's not really an ability. Going deep means your manager let you go deep. That depends on everything from how rabid the local media is about pitch counts to the opposing pinch hitters' handedness to how many Tums the skipper ate that day.
   25. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4610640)
Because I haven't seen a lot of support for Morris here, which is logically inconsistent with the arguments against Palmeiro.


I think that the "best pitcher of the 1980s" should be in the Hall of Fame. I think that Jack Morris's problem is that's not him. Dave Stieb, Bret Saberhagen, and Rick Reuschel, for example, are in the Hall of Merit. A large chunk of Blyleven's and Ryan's Hall-of-Fame cases overlap with Morris's career, as does the front end of Roger Clemens's. I think that to support Morris for the HOF, you have to not only accept the "best of his era" criterion is valid, but you then have to either view quantity as a HOF criterion in an of itself (IP, CG) or essentially make the argument "well, somebody from the '80s needs to make it, and Morris is the only guy left on the ballot to vote for."
   26. jmurph Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4610647)
Do the people who feel Rafael Palmeiro doesn't belong because a number of 1B of his era put up good numbers also feel that Morris DOES belong because relatively few pitchers of his era (the 80s) matched Morris's numbers for the decade?


But isn't that second part not actually true? I don't see these things as comparable (and for the record I've got Raffy as being more Hall-worthy than Morris).
   27. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4610652)
Good to see Verducci come in out of the cold. His "I'm thinking strongly of voting for him, but I'm not quite there yet" article of last year was actually more persuasive -- focusing more closely on Morris's ace status (and thus his "playing ability") -- but this is also a strong effort.

And yes, Morris's dominance of his peers in CGs and durability matters. In his era, the bullpens weren't as good or as deep as they are now so, everything else equal, saving your team from turning to them was worth more then than it is now.
   28. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4610655)
or essentially make the argument "well, somebody from the '80s needs to make it, and Morris is the only guy left on the ballot to vote for.

It is funny that Jack Morris has the good fortune to be overlapped by a number of HOFers finishing their career in the early 80's and starting their careers in the mid to late 80's. His foot fits the 80's arbitrary endpoint glass slipper more perfectly than any other pitcher except Stieb, and there's no point in rehashing why Stieb gets no media love.
   29. ursus arctos Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4610658)
Geez, he really does call Larsen "Dan".
   30. bjhanke Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4610660)
Ivan (#8) asked a very good question: whether 4 WAR in 250 IP is more valuable than 4 WAR in 150 IP. There are two parts to answering this that I can think of.

First, no, because if the 4 WAR guy only pitches 150 innings, someone else will have to pitch the other 100, and that guy will likely put up at least some WAR. So, if your guy gives you 4 WAR in 150 IP, your TEAM will get more WAR than if he takes 250 IP to do that.

The second part is a yes, the biggest one that Morris supporters really have going for them The deeper you go into games, the more leverage your IP have, and a 250-inning pitcher is almost certain to have gone deeper into games than a 150-IP man. This is one of the reasons that I am so down on 1980s pitchers to begin with. It's in that decade that we get to see the fullest effects of starters not getting the high-leverage 8th and 9th innings. The setup men and closers are sucking all those innings up. Morris did his best to defy that trend, and pitch as deep into games as he could, and that is a plus, but it's still not enough for me to vote for him over in the Hall of Merit.

But, then, I didn't vote for Palmeiro, either.

P.S. - Ivan asks good questions, and delivers good info if you ask him questions. I like Ivan. - Brock Hanke

   31. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4610661)
Good to see Verducci come in out of the cold. His "I'm thinking strongly of voting for him, but I'm not quite there yet" article of last year was actually more persuasive -- focusing more closely on Morris's ace status (and thus his "playing ability") -- but this is also a strong effort.


Verducci's hemming/hawing on Jack was for the 2012 election. He voted for Morris in 2013, so no pickup here.

   32. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4610671)
The deeper you go into games, the more leverage your IP have,

... especially for someone who pitched the score as historically often as Morris allegedly did.
   33. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 04, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4610673)
I can buy the argument that Morris was the greatest workhorse of his time, maybe even of the last 40 years.


I can't.

Morris had 3824 career IP, with 10 seasons over 240 (this cutoff favours Jack, as he had 4 seasons in the 240s) Led league in IP once.

Blyleven 4970 career, 12 over 240, led league twice

Clemens 4916, 8, twice

Maddux 5008, 7 (would have been 9 without strike), 5 times

R. Johnson 4135, 7, twice

And if you're talking relative league, its hard to get better than Roy Halladay. He led the league in IP 4 times and complete games 7 times.
   34. AROM Posted: December 04, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4610690)
It is funny that Jack Morris has the good fortune to be overlapped by a number of HOFers finishing their career in the early 80's and starting their careers in the mid to late 80's. His foot fits the 80's arbitrary endpoint glass slipper more perfectly than any other pitcher except Stieb, and there's no point in rehashing why Stieb gets no media love.


If you look at only years 1977-1994, when Morris was active, he's not the best pitcher of that era. Roger Clemens is (172-93, 147 ERA+, 72 WAR), and it's not particularly close.
   35. John Northey Posted: December 04, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4610703)
The time frame is an interesting one. Hadn't really picked up on that as it is surrounded by so many greats just before and after. 1971-1983 debuts ...
Wins: Morris (254), Martinez (245), Tanana (240), Reuschel (214), Welch (211), Hershiser (204), Eckersley (197), Alexander (194), with Candelaria, Viola, Stieb, Valenzuela, Sutcliffe, Darwin and Guidry in the 170's.
ERA: for guys with 150+ wins (cannot imagine voters putting in a guy sub 150 as a starter) Steve Rogers 3.17, Ron Guidry 3.29, John Candelaria 3.33, Rick Reuschel 3.37, Burt Hooton 3.38, Dave Stieb 3.44, Bob Welch 3.47, Orel Hershiser 3.48 (rest 3.50 or higher). Morris is #21 of 26.

There is the big issue. None really stand out. Guidry might have been the best doing this quick and dirty method, but was surprised to see Steve Rogers leading. Cut to 100 wins and John Tudor leads for starting pitchers with a 3.12 ERA (Goose has a 3.01).
   36. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 04, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4610753)
The only argument I could see is this..

He has 175 CG. How many of those games did he lose or runs given up in the last 3 innings? Yeah, I know this lends itself to the "pitch to the score" thing. What I'm trying to ascertain is this. If he'd pitched in today's era, once he reached 110 pitches, how many times would a good pen had kept a lead he may have lost. Or subsequently how many runs did he give up when tired when in today's era of 6-7 inning stints and maybe a manager goes to the pen instead of leaving him out there whilst he's tiring?

Maybe with a good pen, different managing and today's thinking, he has maybe 90 CG, 275 wins and an ERA+ of 115 or so

Sorry, I'm at work and don't have time to articulate what I'm really trying to say...

   37. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4610757)
Poz on the eight-inning argument:
Joel basically made two points in his Morris Hall of Fame case. First he quotes a Tom Verducci statistic that shows Morris pitched 248 games where he lasted at least eight innings — the most by an American League pitcher in the designated hitter era. It goes without saying that I think Tom is brilliant, by the way.

The statistic is semi-interesting — it amplifies the point that Jack Morris was an extremely durable pitcher — but then there’s the usual Morris overreach. That stat — Morris had the most eight-inning starts for any AL pitcher in the DH era — is one of those hyper-specific stats that drive me nuts. It’s fun to play that game, but not very helpful. For instance, I can say that only one player in baseball history has hit at least 575 doubles and 350 homers while also driving in 1,400 RBIs, stealing 100 bases and getting hit by pitch more than 100 times. Only one player! Ever! And it isn’t Willie Mays! It isn’t Babe Ruth! Can you guess who is this titan of baseball?

It’s Luis Gonzalez. Yes. And that’s why Luis Gonzalez belongs in the Hall of Fame!

Here’s the best part of that nonsense. If you are paying attention, you might say: “Well, sure, you added that ‘hit by pitch’ caveat which is meaningless — I mean, that’s a dead give away.” But that’s the way the conman works. I argue for a few minutes that HBP are important and then finally act like you wore me down and say: “OK, fine, take away Hit By Pitch.” Now you have just four players left. Hank Aaron. Carl Yastrzemski. Barry Bonds. And Luis Gonzalez.

Gonzo for the the Hall!

See, the WHOLE STATISTIC is a setup. It works because the combination is built around Gonzalez’s numbers and are fairly random. The Jack Morris stat only works because (1) You start in the “DH Era,” which happens to be just before Jack Morris’ career begins; (2) The stat is “8 innings,” we’re not talking complete games and we’re not talking seven innings ; (3) You have to say AMERICAN LEAGUE pitcher because, in fact, Morris did not lead all pitchers in this nebulous statistic over this odd time period. Nolan Ryan pitched more 8-inning games in the DH era. And you know who else did? Right. Bert Blyleven.

I went back to Tom’s original post and he actually goes more in depth on this thing. He takes this statistic back to 1961 — Morris is 12th in eighth inning starts. That doesn’t seem as impressive until Tom points out that the 11 in front of him are all in the Hall of Fame.

Then again, it might be worth mentioning that he’s 33 games behind the 11th guy on the list (Juan Marichal) which seems a pretty wide gap. But the larger point is that while he’s 33 behind Marichal, he’s only two ahead of Tommy John, three ahead of Jim Kaat and nine ahead of Mickey Lolich. None of them are Hall of Famers. Even in this invented stat, Morris really compares better to non-Hall of Famers.

And, you can add this: Morris had a lot of eight-inning starts, but he had a LOT OF STARTS period. Lolich actually had a HIGHER PERCENTAGE of eight inning starts than Morris. So did Andy Messersmith, Luis Tiant, Dennis Leonard, Wilbur Wood, Mike Cuellar and so on.

So, no, I don’t care much for that eight-inning stat.
   38. cmd600 Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4610784)
He has 175 CG. How many of those games did he lose or runs given up in the last 3 innings? Yeah, I know this lends itself to the "pitch to the score" thing. What I'm trying to ascertain is this. If he'd pitched in today's era, once he reached 110 pitches, how many times would a good pen had kept a lead he may have lost. Or subsequently how many runs did he give up when tired when in today's era of 6-7 inning stints and maybe a manager goes to the pen instead of leaving him out there whilst he's tiring?

Maybe with a good pen, different managing and today's thinking, he has maybe 90 CG, 275 wins and an ERA+ of 115 or so


He has a better ERA, SO/BB, and OPS against in the 7-9th inning than the first six. From 1988 on (because we don't have the data from before) he had a better SO/BB and OPS against after pitch 100 than before. Bully for him that he could finish so strong, but this wasn't a guy that was turning 6-1 leads into 6-3 finals that often. As Joe Sheehan pointed out, what feels like a long time ago now, Morris was a guy who gave up runs, and leads, early.
   39. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4610794)
Joel basically made two points in his Morris Hall of Fame case. First he quotes a Tom Verducci statistic that shows Morris pitched 248 games where he lasted at least eight innings — the most by an American League pitcher in the designated hitter era.


I love how these stats get invented and trotted out by someone and then others follow suit and start regurgitating the stat.

But here is the counter to the stat: who cares about trivia? How many runs did Morris give up on average? Still many more than most other HOF pitchers.

The real problem, though, is this. If you were going to analyze a pitcher's career, would you immediately jump to "Which AL pitchers in the DH era had the most starts of at least 8 innings?" No. No, you wouldn't.
   40. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:33 PM (#4610809)
"Men, I'm going to get you guys to the World Series. I'm going to throw the most innings on this team, have the best ERA and win the most games. I will lead you."

If this actually occurred, Morris was being pretty optimistic based on just his own history. ERA leaders on Morris's teams:

1990 Tigers: Morris if you limit the field to qualifiers, but the team only had two; Dan Petry threw 149.2 innings and edged Morris.
'89: Frank Tanana (and Doyle Alexander - Morris third among three qualifiers)
'88: Jeff Robinson
'87: Morris among guys who pitched the whole season for the Tigers, but Doyle Alexander's full-season ERA was lower
'86: Morris
'85: Morris beat Tanana by 1 point and Petry by 3
'84: Petry (and Juan Berenguer)
'83: Morris among qualifiers, but Juan Berenguer threw 157.2 innings with a lower ERA
'82: Petry, Milt Wilcox, and Jerry Ujdur all beat him
'81: Petry and Wilcox both edge him

So that's 50% of the time in the decade preceding the bold prediction if you always take the interpretation most favorable to Morris, less than that if you don't. And those Tiger teams are not generally noted for their exceptional pitching staffs; it's not like he was getting beaten out by the members of the '90s Braves.

For the sake of comparison, Justin Verlander has only failed to lead the Tigers in ERA twice in his eight full seasons, and one of those came this year, when he had two different teammates win the ERA title and Cy Young, respectively.
   41. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4610810)
It looks a lot like Mark Buehrle is going to wind up with a pretty close replica of Morris's career. Probably a couple hundred fewer innings and a few points higher ERA+.

Except that Buehrle had a higher peak and is already at 54.6 bWAR to Morris's 43.8.

Interestingly, though, Morris scores far higher on all of Bill James' toy measurements of Hall of Fame standards. Buehrle will catch up with another couple years of averageish pitching, but not enough to make it close.

Comparing Jack Morris to Orel Hershiser or Dennis Martinez is unflattering to Morris (if Morris is a Hall of Famer than Orel Hershiser is overqualified). Comparing him to a real Hall of Famer like Gaylord Perry or Don Sutton or Tom Glavine is embarrassing.

Morris was a solid #2 through his prime and hung on for years after that as a solid #4. He's closer to Livan Hernandez than he is to Orel Hershiser.

He's third in modern history in wild pitches, though (only Nolan Ryan and Phil Niekro are ahead of him), so there's that.
   42. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4610812)
First, no, because if the 4 WAR guy only pitches 150 innings, someone else will have to pitch the other 100, and that guy will likely put up at least some WAR. So, if your guy gives you 4 WAR in 150 IP, your TEAM will get more WAR than if he takes 250 IP to do that.

Yes, replacement level is basically what you settle for, when you can't find something better. Now sometimes teams think a sub-replacement player is better than he turns out to be, and sometimes replacement level players slump, and produce below replacement results over a short period. So negative scores do happen. But as a mean outcome you should be aiming for something comfortably positive.

Put it this way, if your entire pitching Staff combines for 4 WAR, you are basically guaranteed to finish under .500. The 4 teams that managed less than 4 WAR from their pitching staff last season were the Astos, the Twins, the Padres and the Giants. Combined record 269-379, none of them over .500.

The second part is a yes, the biggest one that Morris supporters really have going for them The deeper you go into games, the more leverage your IP have, and a 250-inning pitcher is almost certain to have gone deeper into games than a 150-IP man. This is one of the reasons that I am so down on 1980s pitchers to begin with. It's in that decade that we get to see the fullest effects of starters not getting the high-leverage 8th and 9th innings.

Have to disagree with your premise. The 8th and 9th innings can be high leverage, much higher than early ones. But they aren't automatically so, most are actually very low leverage innings, where the game is all but over. A run in a tied game in the 9th is hugely valuable. A run in the 9th in a 5-run game is basically worthless.

Now, I haven't double checked this, but I expect that cumulatively the product of the leverage of any given inning will be the same as any other, or very close to it. But I am willing to be proven wrong on that.

I also expect that you might find that SP's are predominantly left in, in games where the leverage is low, and going to the better (on a per-inning basis) reliever doesn't produce much extra value. But again that part is speculation.
   43. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4610817)
Don't you have to do a lot of work to come up with the eight-inning piece of trivia in the first place? Doesn't that basically give the game away?
   44. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 04, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4610819)
Now, I haven't double checked this, but I expect that cumulatively the product of the leverage of any given inning will be the same as any other, or very close to it. But I am willing to be proven wrong on that.

The 9th is likely to be higher-leverage than the others just because if the home team is already ahead, they don't bat - and the leading team batting is a low-leverage situation. Outside of that, though, I suspect you're more or less correct.
   45. Brian Posted: December 04, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4610849)
He's third in modern history in wild pitches, though (only Nolan Ryan and Phil Niekro are ahead of him), so there's that.


So, Morris was third ALL-TIME!!! in wild pitches and every guy ahead of him is in the HOF? Well there you go.
   46. DanG Posted: December 04, 2013 at 09:17 PM (#4610856)
Once again, a novel approach to the perennial question. Keep 'em coming.
I wrote this piece in 1999 when Morris was about to make his ballot debut:

You Don't Know Jack: Morris for the Hall of Fame
   47. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: December 04, 2013 at 09:19 PM (#4610858)
#33: But you have to look at Innings Ate Above Replacement or Run Prevention Independent Pitching Statistics.

If all else fails, compare them by Furlongs Plowed
   48. bobm Posted: December 04, 2013 at 09:21 PM (#4610860)
EDIT: FTFA:

From 1971 through 1983, 615 pitchers made their first start in the major leagues. None of them have been elected to the Hall of Fame as a starting pitcher. It is baseball’s Dark Ages for superb starting pitchers.

It is, by far, the longest and deepest drought in baseball history when it comes to the debut of a Hall of Fame starting pitcher. The previous drought ran only from 1931-35 and involved only 150 starters.

The modern drought technically extends to today, but will end with the election from this ballot of Greg Maddux (debut: 1986), who will be the first starting pitcher elected who debuted since Bert Blyleven (1970). The drought should have ended with Roger Clemens (1984) but his association with performance-enhancing drugs has kept him out. The 13-year starting pitcher drought between Blyleven and Clemens does not include Dennis Eckersley (1975), who established his Cooperstown credentials as a reliever.


Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1871 to 2013, Hall Of Fame Members (as mlb players), (requiring At least 60% games started), sorted by greatest First Season

                           
Rk              Player From
1        Bert Blyleven 1970
2           Tom Seaver 1967
3           Nolan Ryan 1966
4           Don Sutton 1966
5        Steve Carlton 1965
6           Jim Palmer 1965
7       Fergie Jenkins 1965
8       Catfish Hunter 1965
9          Phil Niekro 1964
10       Gaylord Perry 1962
11       Juan Marichal 1960
12          Bob Gibson 1959
13        Don Drysdale 1956
14         Jim Bunning 1955
15        Sandy Koufax 1955
16         Whitey Ford 1950
17       Robin Roberts 1948
18        Warren Spahn 1942
19           Bob Lemon 1941
20          Early Wynn 1939
21       Hal Newhouser 1939
22          Bob Feller 1936
23          Dizzy Dean 1930
24         Lefty Gomez 1930
25        Carl Hubbell 1928
Rk              Player From
26         Lefty Grove 1925
27         Red Ruffing 1924
28           Ted Lyons 1923
29          Waite Hoyt 1918
30        Jesse Haines 1918
31     Burleigh Grimes 1916
32         Dazzy Vance 1915
33           Red Faber 1914
34           Babe Ruth 1914
35        Herb Pennock 1912
36          Eppa Rixey 1912
37      Stan Coveleski 1912
38      Pete Alexander 1911
39       Rube Marquard 1908
40      Walter Johnson 1907
41            Ed Walsh 1904
42        Chief Bender 1903
43      Mordecai Brown 1903
44          Addie Joss 1902
45         Eddie Plank 1901
46   Christy Mathewson 1900
47        Jack Chesbro 1899
48       Joe McGinnity 1899
49          Vic Willis 1898
50     Roger Bresnahan 1897
Rk              Player From
51        Rube Waddell 1897
52       Bobby Wallace 1894
53            Cy Young 1890
54         Kid Nichols 1890
55       Jesse Burkett 1890
56          Amos Rusie 1889
57        Jake Beckley 1888
58       John Clarkson 1882
59           Tim Keefe 1880
60        Mickey Welch 1880
61   Old Hoss Radbourn 1880
62          Monte Ward 1878
63          Pud Galvin 1875
   49. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 04, 2013 at 11:58 PM (#4610911)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1871 to 2013, Hall Of Fame Members (as mlb players), (requiring At least 60% games started), sorted by greatest First Season

More aptly II think:
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1971 to 2013, (requiring year_min>=1971 and year_min<=1983), sorted by greatest WAR for Pitchers
1  Rick Reuschel     68.2  
2  Dennis Eckersley  62.4
3  Frank Tanana      57.6
4  Dave Stieb        56.8
5  Orel Hershiser    51.7
6  Dennis Martinez   49.4
7  Ron Guidry        47.9
8  Frank Viola       47.3
9  Steve Rogers      45.4
10 Jack Morris       43.9 
   50. bobm Posted: December 05, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4610914)
Now, I haven't double checked this, but I expect that cumulatively the product of the leverage of any given inning will be the same as any other, or very close to it. But I am willing to be proven wrong on that.

The 9th is likely to be higher-leverage than the others just because if the home team is already ahead, they don't bat - and the leading team batting is a low-leverage situation. Outside of that, though, I suspect you're more or less correct.


This Leverage Index chart by inning-out-base-lead state seems to disagree.

http://www.insidethebook.com/li.shtml
   51. Ardo Posted: December 05, 2013 at 01:25 AM (#4610936)
Jack Morris certainly doesn't belong in the Hall of Merit, but I don't mind him in the Hall of Fame for the same reason I don't mind Dizzy Dean in the Hall of Fame. He was a very good pitcher and a colorful character who plays a big part in the narrative of the 1980s and early 1990s. On some level, Cooperstown doesn't exist to honor players with the most wins above replacement.
   52. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 05, 2013 at 01:32 AM (#4610940)
Jack Morris certainly doesn't belong in the Hall of Merit, but I don't mind him in the Hall of Fame for the same reason I don't mind Dizzy Dean in the Hall of Fame. He was a very good pitcher and a colorful character who plays a big part in the narrative of the 1980s and early 1990s. On some level, Cooperstown doesn't exist to honor players with the most wins above replacement.

I personally don't care whom the HOF chooses to induct or not induct, but if it's not meant to honor the best players, why does anyone else care about it? Why do people say so and so is a future HOF if it just means that the guy is a good player who is an important part of some narrative or other? Then you're making the narrator more important than the player. Isn't Roger Maris part of a narrative? How about Darryl Strawberry? Jose Canseco? Paul Blair? Bernie Williams? If someone paid me, I could probably come up with a narrative that made lots of people seem really important -- from Dave Henderson to Ron Guidry. How exactly was Morris a "colorful character"? Was he a prankster?
   53. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 05, 2013 at 01:49 AM (#4610944)

This Leverage Index chart by inning-out-base-lead state seems to disagree.

http://www.insidethebook.com/li.shtml

Errm, where are you seeing the overall average for an inning in that chart?
   54. bobm Posted: December 05, 2013 at 02:09 AM (#4610945)
Errm, where are you seeing the overall average for an inning in that chart?

The later innings are loaded with red and blue and the earlier innings are mostly gray and white.

Legend
Red...... Very High-Leverage
Blue..... High-Leverage
Gray..... Medium-Leverage
(empty).. Low-Leverage

One would have to know the frequency of each state to calculate overall averages, obviously.
   55. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 05, 2013 at 02:28 AM (#4610948)
The later innings are loaded with red and blue and the earlier innings are mostly gray and white.

Yes, nobody disputes that tied and 1-run games are higher leverage than the same score in the 9th.

One would have to know the frequency of each state to calculate overall averages, obviously.

So IOW it doesn't actually disagree with the original statement.
   56. Baldrick Posted: December 05, 2013 at 03:14 AM (#4610950)
The 13-year starting pitcher drought between Blyleven and Clemens does not include Dennis Eckersley (1975), who established his Cooperstown credentials as a reliever.

Morris was a better starter than Eck. But not THAT much better. Eckersley as a starter threw 2500 innings at 111 ERA+. Morris threw about 2500 innings from 1979-1988 at 114 ERA+. That he tacked on 1300 marginally-above-replacement innings IS an advantage, of course. But BB-Ref actually thinks that Eckersley as a starter was worth more WAR than Morris (45.7 to 43.8) - since it credits Morris with pretty good defenses and Eckersley with slightly below average ones. I don't trust that number nearly enough to actually think it nullifies all those extra innings. But it's certainly not a blowout.

Plus, Eck's mustache was better.
   57. AndrewJ Posted: December 05, 2013 at 07:26 AM (#4610956)
Don't you have to do a lot of work to come up with the eight-inning piece of trivia in the first place? Doesn't that basically give the game away?

If you have to do that much work to establish why somebody belongs in the Hall... they probably don't belong in the Hall.
   58. John Northey Posted: December 05, 2013 at 08:33 AM (#4610965)
It is funny how good Rick Reuschel was. At the time he seemed good but not great vs others, but it turns out that was more because of who he played for. First the Cubs for years, then a tiny time with the Yankees before a stint with the Pirates and finally a good team in San Francisco when he was very old. Just 3 ASG's, 3 times getting Cy Young votes, once an MVP vote, 2 gold gloves. Won 20 games just once, led the league in only starts, complete games, and shutouts with one year leading in WHIP and BB/9. The year he had a 2.27 ERA (159 ERA+) he didn't get a single Cy Young vote. Twice in the WS but no rings with a 5.85 post season ERA.

Very quietly he was an excellent pitcher but never really a big standout. His best years tended to hit other greats better years (his 158 ERA+ and 20 win season was vs a Steve Carlton 20 win season with a 153 ERA+, his 2.27 was against Doc Gooden's 1.53 ERA and John Tudor's 1.91). No great shakes in the playoffs and stuck with poor teams mostly. Easy Hall of Merit, not so easy into a Hall of Fame as one has to dig to see how good he was and writers rarely do that.
   59. Sean Forman Posted: December 05, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4610989)
I ran a query and Morris has the most 8+ IP outings from 75 to 96, but if you restrict it to guys with 100+ such games about 56 such players. Morris has the worst ERA of the 56 in those games and perhaps even more humorously the 5th worst W-L% in those games.
   60. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4611003)
It is funny how good Rick Reuschel was.

I didn't realize how good he was until I saw him pitch regularly for those late 80's/early 90's Giants. Pound the strike zone with that sinker over and over and over. No fuss, no drama. Simple.

   61. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4611014)
I personally don't care whom the HOF chooses to induct or not induct, but if it's not meant to honor the best players, why does anyone else care about it?

Because it's interesting to see how memory and tastes linger and change. "Why is Jack Morris on the cusp of induction while Rick Reuschel and Kevin Brown were one-and-done?" is every bit as interesting a question as "Was Jack Morris a 'better' pitcher than Kevin Brown or Rick Reuschel?" I happen to think it's a more interesting question.

If your question is "Why do the people on BTF, and saberists generally, care so much about the Hall of Fame?" the answer is straightforward -- they're in a running battle (*) with existing institutions over who should be the rightful interpreters and curators of the sport's history.

(*) One they started and continue to zealously prosecute, with no indication that they're willing to share power. They pretty clearly want one-party rule, a la the North Vietnamese or Khmer Rouge.
   62. bjhanke Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4611026)
Fancy Pants - You certainly have a point about my mentioning that later innings have higher leverage. And it's not even the one caveat I'd thought about. What I thought about was whether going deeper into games correlates with weak opposing teams. You got a weak team that doesn't get on base much, you don't have to throw as many pitches to get them out as with a better team, and you're more likely to have a safe lead late in the game. So you get more IP for fewer pitches.

Please do note that I did NOT say that this means Jack Morris belongs in the Hall. He doesn't, IMO. What I said was that this was the best argument Morris supporters can come up with. That it's a weak argument, with at least two holes in it, is a lot of why I don't support Morris. If that argument is the best you can do, you aren't looking at a Hall guy. - Brock
   63. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 05, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4611037)
Reuschel has all of the classic attributes of an underrated player:
- Played for a bunch of teams
- Spent the first half of his career with a bad, forgettable team
- Almost always good, rarely great
- Career didn't have a simple arc or narrative
- Didn't strike out a lot of guys or have a specific skill that really stood out
   64. Bug Selig Posted: December 05, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4611067)
And yes, Morris's dominance of his peers in CGs and durability matters.


He led the league in CG once and IP once. If that's your definition of dominance, no wonder you think his award history is consistent with the idea that everybody back then just knew he was amazing.
   65. DanG Posted: December 05, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4611214)
Rick Reuschel had an innate athleticism that belied his physique. It enabled him to hit the reset button in mid-career.

Big Daddy had surgery in 1982 for a torn rotator cuff and didn't pitch that season. After pitching poorly in four starts for Columbus, the Yankees released him in June 1983. Dallas Green signed him for the Cubs later that month, and he pitched well for Quad Cities, leading to a September call-up and four starts.

In 1984 he was on and off the disabled list and generally pitched poorly. Many were outraged when the Cubs left him off the postseason roster, preferring equally-poor Dick Ruthven. The Cubs released him in November and most in baseball assumed he was done.

He got a spring training shot with Pittsburgh in 1985, who farmed him out to Hawaii. After 8 strong starts (6-2, 2.50, 54 IP) he was brought up in late May and was fabulous for five years.

In 1990 Roger Craig ran him into the ground. The 41-year-old started 11 of the Giant's first 44 games, four times on three days rest, landing him on the DL. This essentially ended his career.

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