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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Murray Chass on Baseball: PITCHER OVERDUE FOR HALL

Or…How Murray Chass browbeats the liver-snaps out of the Hal Bodley’s of the world about JACK MORRIS!

Morris was not about to lose that game. He would stay on the mound as long as it took Minnesota to win the game and the World Series. That’s the kind of pitcher he was. His way could not be measured by the statistics that have infested baseball in recent years – FIP, WHIP, VORP and assorted other acronyms.

The purveyors of these statistics ignore the intangibles that enable someone like Morris to win a 10-inning Game 7. Pitchers, not initials, win those games. Sadly, we are heading for the time when voters who are immersed in those numbers and initials will be the preponderant Hall of Fame voters, just as they hijacked the voting for the Cy Young awards this year.

In giving the awards to Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke the voters said the number of victories a pitcher has doesn’t matter. I’m not sure how far they are prepared to take that stand, but wins still count.

Morris thinks so.

“It’s supposed to be about winning,” the 54-year-old Morris said in a telephone interview Friday, “but somehow that has faded away. It’s amazing. I don’t know why it’s evolved into this. Statistics are now used to pad stats for salary arbitration with little care if your team makes the playoffs with a chance to go to the World Series. Guys are missing out on the fun part of the game.”

I asked Morris how he felt about the so-called sophisticated statistics, the ones with the fancy initials. “I’m really not familiar with them,” he said. “I don’t even know what they are.”

Repoz Posted: December 06, 2009 at 01:13 PM | 437 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, sabermetrics

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   1. 1k5v3L Posted: December 06, 2009 at 01:29 PM (#3404808)
Statistics are now used to pad stats
In the old days, Morris used garbanzo beans to pad stats.
   2. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 06, 2009 at 01:38 PM (#3404811)
Pitchers, not initials, win those games.

Tell that to your defending champions C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
   3. Chris in Wicker Park Posted: December 06, 2009 at 01:43 PM (#3404814)
Morris and Murray communicated by telephone! Surprised they didn't use carrier pigeons or smoke signals.
   4. Mattbert Posted: December 06, 2009 at 01:44 PM (#3404815)
Yeah, who needs stupid stats like...uh...wins? Just give it to the guy with the brassiest balls.

I also like the fact that all these new-fangled stats have "initials". It makes them sound so much more humane and cuddly than if they're just acronyms.
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 06, 2009 at 01:52 PM (#3404817)
Morris and Murray communicated by telephone! Surprised they didn't use carrier pigeons or smoke signals.

Of course, the conversation started with Chass saying "Ahoy! What hath God wrought?"
   6. Crashburn Alley Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:09 PM (#3404820)
Obvious troll is obvious.
   7. G.W.O. Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:29 PM (#3404822)
Well, there are only 40 guys above you in wins, so we'll wait for all those to be inducted... Then there's the 150-odd with a better winning percentage. After those guys, Jack, you're in.
   8. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:30 PM (#3404824)
I must be getting dyslexic in my old age. I read the headline as "Pitcher due for Overhaul"
   9. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:31 PM (#3404825)
Statistics are now used to pad stats

What...I just....I don't even...
   10. Mr Dashwood Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:32 PM (#3404826)
Rom-pe, rom-pe, rompe la piñata!

Actually, if instead of getting the palo out we actually deconstruct Chass here, we find Chass' snark shares space with a more balanced judgement.

A 300-win career has meant automatic election...Morris won 254 games in an 18-year career, but one win that isn’t included in that regular-season total is the 10-inning 1-0 decision he gained against Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. That game, one of the greatest games ever pitched, epitomized Morris’ pitching style...his 3.90 earned run average, which some voters think was too high to merit consideration

So, to start with, Chass recognizes that statistically there are shortcomings with Morris' case. What he is trying to do is, Mazeroski-like, give recognition to an important postseason contribution, one that really did make a difference. The trouble, Murray, is that Maz was not elected by the writers.

His way could not be measured by the statistics that have infested baseball in recent years – FIP, WHIP, VORP and assorted other acronyms. The purveyors of these statistics ignore the intangibles that enable someone like Morris to win a 10-inning Game 7.

Murray has got his own piñata here. He's already brought up a more old-fashioned acronym in ERA.

Sadly, we are heading for the time when voters who are immersed in those numbers and initials will be the preponderant Hall of Fame voters, just as they hijacked the voting for the Cy Young awards this year.

OK - this is truly palo-worthy. What he is saying is that the bulk of BBWAA electors already are using saber-stats to decide questions of which players to honour. I think we can all agree that from where we are sitting, this is at best a highly debatable point.

Chass goes on to cite three BBWAA voters who do not share his enthusiasm. They give good, sound reasons for not voting for Morris. Chass accepts them. But he would find those same debating points made on a site like this. Really, both Chass and Primer are setting up their own piñatas and having a good whack. At what point will sense prevail and all will conclude this is a counterproductive exercise? Are we all that lacking in self-confidence?

In the end, Chass' case for Morris - one of intangibles (and tell me, how does one touch an ERA) - is a humanistic one. In an era where bureaucratic corporate structures dominate the lives of most people, reducing them to an 'n'-digit number, it ought to be easy to sympathize with Chass' stance: Yet sympathy, even for a devil, does not equal agreement.
   11. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:35 PM (#3404827)
The purveyors of these statistics ignore the intangibles that enable someone like Morris to win a 10-inning Game 7.

As useful as modern metrics are, this is a true statement. Heart, perseverance, durability, and the ability to engage the moment are all very real human characteristics, shared unequally among human beings.

Guys are missing out on the fun part of the game.”

This is also a true statement. Knowingness often does detract from fun. I have no desire to know whether and when my genes are going to turn normal cells into cancer cells. When knowingness isn't really knowing -- as with many modern metrics that purport to measure baseball players -- the problem is exacerbated.
   12. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:48 PM (#3404833)
Heart, perseverance, durability, and the ability to engage the moment are all very real human characteristics, shared unequally among human beings.

True, and the differences in these characteristics among the very best baseball players has an uncanny way of showing up in the statistical record of the games they play.

Morris was not about to lose that game.

As I recall, Morris was most definitely about to lose that game. But someone other than Morris intangibled Lonnie Smith into forgetting how to run the bases. If your entire HOF case hinges on getting lucky in one big game, then you don't have much of a HOF case.
   13. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:48 PM (#3404834)
I have no desire to know whether and when my genes are going to turn normal cells into cancer cells.

in your case: Tuesday, 2018
   14. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3404837)
True, and the differences in these characteristics among the very best baseball players has an uncanny way of showing up in the statistical record of the games they play.

But it's untrue that even someone with identical statistics to Morris would have been equally likely to have performed as Morris did in Game 7 1991.

That aside, I see no problem with giving extra credit to players for iconic performances. Maz was obviously given that credit for his 1960 World Series winning homer and if Bobby Thomsen were on the borderline, putting him in for The Shot Heard 'Round the World would have offended no worthy sentiments.
   15. Mr Dashwood Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:00 PM (#3404841)
That aside, I see no problem with giving extra credit to players for iconic performances.

Right on, man! Or, well said, if you prefer.
   16. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:04 PM (#3404842)
But it's untrue that even someone with identical statistics to Morris would have been equally likely to have performed as Morris did in Game 7 1991.

I don't know what this is supposed to mean. Someone with statistics identical to Morris did perform exactly as Morris did in Game 7 1991. His name is Jack Morris. My point was that I agree with you on the importance of those characteristics, but shouldn't it go without saying that those characteristics contribute mightily to making players who they are statistically? Jack Morris without all that "heart, perseverance, durability, and the ability to engage the moment" would have won far fewer than 254 major league games, and had an ERA much higher than 3.90 for his career. Or am I supposed to believe that that stuff only shows up in the odd game 7 here or there?

I see no problem with giving extra credit to players for iconic performances.

I don't have a problem with this either. I just don't think Morris is close enough for one game to put him over the top.
   17. Mattbert Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:13 PM (#3404847)
Schilling is a good example of a reasonably strong HOF case--nowhere near an iron-clad lock, but head and shoulders above Morris--who could certainly benefit from the iconic performance bonus points.
   18. BDC Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:14 PM (#3404848)
I wonder if Morris isn't likely to be elected by some far-off Veterans Committee in the long run. In addition to his uncanny ability to win games in a single decade :) there's this factoid: no pitcher born in the 1950s has been elected to the HOF as a starter (Eckersley would never have been elected as a starter alone). Morris is second in Wins among pitchers born in the 1950s (Blyleven is first, and what this has to do with Frank Tanana is that he's fourth, behind Dennis Martinez). It seems to me that sooner or later Veterans voters from his era are going to nod in the direction of Morris just because he was one of the more accomplished pitchers of an era that wasn't real strong in starting pitchers.
   19. Tricky Dick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3404853)
I asked Morris how he felt about the so-called sophisticated statistics, the ones with the fancy initials. “I’m really not familiar with them,” he said. “I don’t even know what they are.”


I have a hard time giving credibility to criticism when it is based on not knowing anything about the subject. I can easily give a pass to a former player, and, in fact, Morris doesn't really criticize the advanced statistics because he he acknowledges that he doesn't know what they are. My recollection is that Chass previously has said that he only knows the acronyms/names of the advanced stats, but didn't think it was worth his time to understand the stats. That's fine, but if you don't take time to know anything about what you criticize, why would anyone pay attention to your criticism?
   20. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3404854)
Morris was not about to lose that game.


As I recall, Morris was most definitely about to lose that game. But someone other than Morris intangibled Lonnie Smith into forgetting how to run the bases.

And skipping back a generation or two, Morris would have been Jack Sanford instead of Ralph Terry in terms of great clutch performances.

And the Mazeroski comparison is interesting. I wonder how Morris will fare with the Veterans' Committee, assuming that the writers don't vote him in before that. Morris did have a pretty damn good rep as a gamer among his contemporaries, and the Veterans' Committee isn't exactly as rigorous in its standards as the BBWAA.

EDIT: Coke to Bob.
   21. sunnyday2 Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:28 PM (#3404858)
The purveyors of these statistics ignore the intangibles that enable someone like Morris to win a 10-inning Game 7.

As useful as modern metrics are, this is a true statement. Heart, perseverance, durability, and the ability to engage the moment are all very real human characteristics, shared unequally among human beings.


No, that is not a true statement. When intangibles lead to outs, most of "these statistics" account for it quite well.
   22. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 06, 2009 at 03:35 PM (#3404860)
I don't have a problem with this either. I just don't think Morris is close enough for one game to put him over the top


And in Morris's case, it's just one game. If he was close enough so that the one moment would put him over the top, he's likely qualified without it.

Schilling is a good example of a reasonably strong HOF case--nowhere near an iron-clad lock, but head and shoulders above Morris--who could certainly benefit from the iconic performance bonus points.


Right, but:

1) Schilling had many moments, from the 1993 NLCS MVP, to the bloody sock, with the 2001 WS MVP thrown in for good measure.

2) Schilling is much closer to being qualified without the extra credit.*

Put it this way. Curt Schilling has one of the most impressive post season pitching resumes ever, far superior to Morris. And if Schilling had Jack Morris's regular season resume, there's no way I would support him.

*He's qualified (IMO) without it, but I agree that he wouldn't get elected without it.
   23. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3404876)
wins still count

Ok then, let's get the 7 guys who are not in that are above Morris in the Hall first. And two others not eligible yet that probably won't make it.
   24. Mattbert Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3404878)
Agree on all points, Misirlou.
   25. Rally Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:25 PM (#3404879)
Wins are the most important stat, Murray. So let's talk about Morris once you get Blyleven in, and not a second before.
   26. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:34 PM (#3404883)
Right, but:

1) Schilling had many moments, from the 1993 NLCS MVP, to the bloody sock, with the 2001 WS MVP thrown in for good measure.

2) Schilling is much closer to being qualified without the extra credit.*

Put it this way. Curt Schilling has one of the most impressive post season pitching resumes ever, far superior to Morris. And if Schilling had Jack Morris's regular season resume, there's no way I would support him.

*He's qualified (IMO) without it, but I agree that he wouldn't get elected without it.


Right on all counts, but it's that last sentence in particular that reveals the chasm between the two camps. The heart of this split comes down to "How MUCH credit should be allowed for iconic / signature / everything on the line moments?"

Among the statistical purists, are they willing to concede that such moments ever put a hypothetically marginal player over the top? Or are they just statistical flukes, often caused by the Lonnie Smiths, a bad call by an umpire, or any one of many random factors?

Among Magic Moment fanciers like Chass, how far below a marginal HoF career does a Man of Magical Moments have to fall before admitting that their Magical Moments don't mean that they're Hallworthy?

Does giving bonus points to a succession of postseason Magic Moments give an "unfair" advantage to players who've had the "luck" to be in a disproportionate number of postseasons?

If Jim Kaat*** had given up two fewer runs in game 7 of the 1965 WS and the Twins had scored a fluke run off Sandy Koufax, and if Lonnie Smith hadn't been deked, would the Chasses of the world be touting Kaat for the HoF instead of Morris?

To what extent is that "unfair" advantage ratcheted up by the age of video and countless repetition? And to what extent is the advantage a generational one? If most of the people who witnessed Morris's Great Moment had already died, would we still be hearing so much about it?

These are all real questions, and not rhetorical ones. My position on Magical Moments is that they're tiebreakers, but it's hard for me to think of many cases where I'd apply them. Maybe Mazeroski, an historically transcendent defensive wizard, but not Morris, and obviously not with even more marginal players like Maris or Joe Carter.

***286 wins, 32 more than Morris / 105 ERA+, identical to Morris
   27. aleskel Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:42 PM (#3404884)
Sadly, we are heading for the time when voters who are immersed in those numbers and initials will be the preponderant Hall of Fame voters, just as they hijacked the voting for the Cy Young awards this year.

Good to know that if Chass had his way, Zach Greinke most certainly would NOT have won the Cy Young, that freeloading bastard
   28. Gamingboy Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3404886)
Screw it. Just put in Morris so Chass and the others will just SHUT UP!
   29. Steve Treder Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:52 PM (#3404888)
These are all real questions, and not rhetorical ones. My position on Magical Moments is that they're tiebreakers, but it's hard for me to think of many cases where I'd apply them. Maybe Mazeroski, an historically transcendent defensive wizard, but not Morris, and obviously not with even more marginal players like Maris or Joe Carter.

Agreed. And the significant difficulty in coming up with coherent answers to the questions strongly suggests that the fairest thing a HOF voter can do is not bring the Magical Moments into consideration.
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 06, 2009 at 04:55 PM (#3404890)
If most of the people who witnessed Morris's Great Moment had already died, would we still be hearing so much about it?

That would probably mean he wouldn't be on the BBWAA ballot any more. So no.
   31. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:02 PM (#3404891)
Among the statistical purists, are they willing to concede that such moments ever put a hypothetically marginal player over the top?


While it's not quite the same things as limiting it to a single moment, many of the HoM voters do consider playoff performance in their evaluations of candidates, and it's not uncommon to see it used as a tiebreaker among individual voters in ranking their ballots (provided that things are sufficiently close to require a tie-breaker). Of course, the amount of weighting does seem to vary a fair amount.

Maybe Mazeroski, an historically transcendent defensive wizard, but not Morris, and obviously not with even more marginal players like Maris or Joe Carter.


I probably shouldn't be, but I'm still surprised that Carter was a one-and-done on the Hall ballot, given his great rep as a teammate, the general perceptions of him as a big run producer (as shown in his string of 100 RBI seasons), and his signature moment in his series ending home run. Which is not to say that I ever expected him to be elected (since he obviously didn't deserve to be) but only that I expected him to linger on the bottom of the ballot for a couple years, before finally dropping off.
   32. OCF Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:13 PM (#3404895)
Compare and contrast: Jack Morris and Mickey Lolich. Include post-season performance in your evaluation.

Lolich only had a career 217-191 record, to Morris's 254-186. But that difference is all run support. Neutralized, I have Morris and Lolich with the same equivalent RA+ (107) and equivalent records of 226-199 for Morris, 215-189 for Lolich.

I'll also add this: it's a different career shape, but if you want to use post-season performance to hype a pitcher's case, then why not Orel Hershiser? (I have Hershiser at an equivalent RA+ of 111 and equivalent career record of 191-157.)
   33. Mr Dashwood Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:15 PM (#3404897)
And the significant difficulty in coming up with coherent answers to the questions strongly suggests that the fairest thing a HOF voter can do is not bring the Magical Moments into consideration.

What significant difficulty?

The significant difficulty seems to be with the stathead's questions, which I guess is what you are saying.

Magical Momentists don't have any significant difficulty coming up with individual answers to their question. In Morris' case the consensus of these individual answers is that his Magic Moment isn't enough. Chass is arguing that this consensus is wrong.

But I don't think I'd draw the conclusion that because <u>statheads</u> have trouble with <u>their</u> questions that Magical Moments should not count for any voter considering HoF candidacies.
   34. Jeff R. Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:33 PM (#3404907)
Funny how just one year later, in the 1992 post-season, Morris was absolutely terrible, the worst pitcher in the rotation. 6.57 ERA in the ALCS, 8.44 in the World Series. If the Jays had blown the World Series that year, with Morris picking up three losses, how would that affect Jack's "clutch" reputation?
   35. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:43 PM (#3404910)
No, that is not a true statement. When intangibles lead to outs, most of "these statistics" account for it quite well.

Outs generally. Not outs at iconic, or even important, moments.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:43 PM (#3404911)
These are all real questions, and not rhetorical ones. My position on Magical Moments is that they're tiebreakers, but it's hard for me to think of many cases where I'd apply them. Maybe Mazeroski, an historically transcendent defensive wizard, but not Morris, and obviously not with even more marginal players like Maris or Joe Carter.

Agreed. And the significant difficulty in coming up with coherent answers to the questions strongly suggests that the fairest thing a HOF voter can do is not bring the Magical Moments into consideration.


And in general, I wouldn't, and don't. But since I haven't figured out a perfect mathematical way to distinguish among candidates in the 45% - 55% range, then in some of those cases a Magical Moment (or at least a strong postseason career) might move the needle just over the 50% line, as it did with Mazeroski. It's cases like Maz's where I make a distinction between Cooperstown and the Hall of Merit: If he weren't already on the margin because of his defense, that home run wouldn't get him my vote, any more than I'd vote for Bobby Thomson. But even with that home run, I'm not sure I'd vote Maz into the Hall of Merit.

I know that answer won't please those who would want the HoF and HoM to be identical in makeup, but so be it. With the exception of the juicers, which are in a category of their own, I'd want any HoM choice of mine to be in Cooperstown, but OTOH there are a few non-HoM choices that I'd feel perfectly fine with seeing in the Hall of Fame. And that's where the Magical Moments and other intangibles*** come in.

***And considering the minute percentage of a player's career those Magical Moments incorporate, you could almost say that those Moments themselves are effectively "intangible," especially if it's only one of them and not part of a career-long pattern.
   37. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3404913)
Among Magic Moment fanciers like Chass, how far below a marginal HoF career does a Man of Magical Moments have to fall before admitting that their Magical Moments don't mean that they're Hallworthy?

I don't know. I'm not aware of Chass championing Don Larsen or Bucky Dent, so he's got to have drawn a line somewhere. But there's a fair bit of space between Don Larsen and Jack Morris.
   38. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:53 PM (#3404919)
It's cases like Maz's where I make a distinction between Cooperstown and the Hall of Merit: If he weren't already on the margin because of his defense, that home run wouldn't get him my vote, any more than I'd vote for Bobby Thomson.


But Maz wasn't on the margin for the Hall of Fame. He was ignored for 15 years by the BBWAA, and even the VC ignored him for another couple years after he was eligible to them, until sufficient cronies were in place, and sufficient horse trading had been done - his election was viewed as being sufficiently questionable as to require the reworking of the VC voting structure.

I know that answer won't please those who would want the HoF and HoM to be identical in makeup, but so be it.


You know, I can't seem to recall anyone who has said that the HoF and the HoM should be identical. In fact, the HoM even deliberately structured their voting (and election schedule) in such a way as to all but ensure that it would be impossible for the two to be identical.
   39. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3404922)
Compare and contrast: Jack Morris and Mickey Lolich. Include post-season performance in your evaluation.


It was easier for a starting pitcher to win games in Lolich's time, but Morris won 15% more games.

Both share with other Tiger greats getting royally screwed by the Hall of Fame voters. It doesn't surprise any Tiger fan who pays the slightest attention to the Hall of Fame that a big chunk of the sentiment for Morris derives from a game he pitched for someone other than the Tigers. It's as if the 1984 postseason, when neither the Royals nor the Padres laid a fingernail on Morris, doesn't exist. Morris would have been the 1984 World Series MVP, except for the superior performance of Alan Trammell, to whom we need look no further to support the initial sentence of this paragraph.
   40. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:01 PM (#3404923)
Among Magic Moment fanciers like Chass, how far below a marginal HoF career does a Man of Magical Moments have to fall before admitting that their Magical Moments don't mean that they're Hallworthy?

I don't know. I'm not aware of Chass championing Don Larsen or Bucky Dent, so he's got to have drawn a line somewhere. But there's a fair bit of space between Don Larsen and Jack Morris.


True, and I wonder where Chass stands on Roger Maris, who's way above Dent and Larsen but still way below Morris. He doesn't have an archive feature on his blog so I couldn't look it up.
   41. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:02 PM (#3404924)
Funny how just one year later, in the 1992 post-season, Morris was absolutely terrible, the worst pitcher in the rotation. 6.57 ERA in the ALCS, 8.44 in the World Series. If the Jays had blown the World Series that year, with Morris picking up three losses, how would that affect Jack's "clutch" reputation?

Rightfully not at all. He was 37 and washed up. If anything, it reflects even more glory on his performance at 36, seeing how close to the end he actually was.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:16 PM (#3404930)
Just to clarify an earlier post:

It's cases like Maz's where I make a distinction between Cooperstown and the Hall of Merit: If he weren't already on the margin because of his defense, that home run wouldn't get him my vote, any more than I'd vote for Bobby Thomson.

But Maz wasn't on the margin for the Hall of Fame. He was ignored for 15 years by the BBWAA, and even the VC ignored him for another couple years after he was eligible to them, until sufficient cronies were in place, and sufficient horse trading had been done - his election was viewed as being sufficiently questionable as to require the reworking of the VC voting structure.


What I meant that he was on my margin, not necessarily on anyone else's.

I know that answer won't please those who would want the HoF and HoM to be identical in makeup, but so be it.

You know, I can't seem to recall anyone who has said that the HoF and the HoM should be identical. In fact, the HoM even deliberately structured their voting (and election schedule) in such a way as to all but ensure that it would be impossible for the two to be identical.


Again, a poor choice of wording on my part. If I'd written "identical in working standards of eligibility" rather than "identical in makeup," I think my point would have been clearer. It's been expressed innumerable times in HoM threads that the purpose of the HoM is to develop better / fairer / more statistically oriented standards than those used in practice by the current HoF, in the hopes that eventually the HoF will itself use these better / fairer / more statistically oriented standards in its own elections.

Which is a point I agree with in most, but not all cases, as I expressed above. IMO the HoM Platonic Ideal approaches voting primarily as a mathematical exercise in search of "merit"; whereas the HoF Platonic Ideal uses statistics as a springboard but not necessarily as a final answer. There's somewhat more room for subjectivity in the HoF, and IMO that's a good thing.
   43. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:24 PM (#3404935)
That Maury even includes "WHIP" in his list of most despised statistical acronyms makes my head spin.
   44. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:26 PM (#3404937)
But I don't think I'd draw the conclusion that because statheads have trouble with their questions that Magical Moments should not count for any voter considering HoF candidacies.

If Magical Moments were of sufficient sample size to satisfy the Twos of the world, they wouldn't be Magical.
   45. a bebop a rebop Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:37 PM (#3404948)
Rightfully not at all. He was 37 and washed up. If anything, it reflects even more glory on his performance at 36, seeing how close to the end he actually was.

His regular season in 1992 was better than either 1989 or 1990. How does this fit the washed up narrative?

Vicente Padilla pitched two 7-inning gems (7.0 IP, 0 ER + 7.1 IP, 1 ER) in the post-season this year, and then came back to get crushed by the Phillies in his 3rd start (3.0 IP, 6 ER). Did he get "washed up" in between his last two starts? Or is he just a decent-to-good pitcher who experienced a normal range of variation in his pitching performances?
   46. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3404951)
But someone other than Morris intangibled Lonnie Smith into forgetting how to run the bases.

This may be my favorite use of the word "intangible". I'll resume lurking....
   47. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:49 PM (#3404957)
His regular season in 1992 was better than either 1989 or 1990. How does this fit the washed up narrative?

The arm problems he had off and on his whole career flared up so badly in 1989 that he missed a bunch of starts. They lingered into '90.

Oh, and he wasn't 37 in 1989.

Vicente Padilla pitched two 7-inning gems (7.0 IP, 0 ER + 7.1 IP, 1 ER) in the post-season this year, and then came back to get crushed by the Phillies in his 3rd start (3.0 IP, 6 ER). Did he get "washed up" in between his last two starts? Or is he just a decent-to-good pitcher who experienced a normal range of variation in his pitching performances?

I don't know. Was Padilla 37 years old?
   48. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:50 PM (#3404959)
Obvious troll is obvious.


It's not just that Chass is trolling, but that he's intellectually dishonest:

In giving the awards to Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke the voters said the number of victories a pitcher has doesn’t matter. I’m not sure how far they are prepared to take that stand, but wins still count.

Morris thinks so.


If wins still count, then Chass should be supporting Mussina's candidacy:

Morris: 254 wins
Mussina: 270 wins

Of course, Chass doesn't support Mussina.

The comparison in more detail:

Morris: 254-186, .577, 3824 IP, 3.90 ERA
Mussina: 270-153, .638, 3562 IP, 3.68 ERA

Let's set aside ERA+, since Chass doesn't understand the need to adjust for era. Just on raw traditional stats alone, Mussina has Morris beat. In wins (Chass's pet statistic). In winning percentage. In ERA. Morris has an extra 260 IP (starting pitchers got more innings/decisions in Morris's era), but even all else being equal that wouldn't make up for Mussina's advantages in W-L record and ERA.

If only Mussina had won 20 ga... no, wait.

Basically the sum total of Morris's case over Mussina is:
* three 20-win seasons instead of one (Morris won 21, 21, 20)
* the postseason game (Mussina has Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, though it wasn't on par with the Morris game)
* the 260 IP

I had an email exchange last year with Chass, in which he Chasstised me for citing ERA+ and called me a "Mussina fan." Well, even fighting Chass on his own turf, Mussina is a better candidate than Morris. That to me strongly suggests that Chass is intellectually dishonest, rather than just obtuse.

EDIT: Also, I hadn't looked at Morris's statline in a while so I was under the mistaken impression that Morris had a number of 23- and 24- win seasons on his resume, given all the hoopla surrounding him. Not so. He has just the 21, 21, and 20 win seasons. He led the league in wins twice; Mussina once.
   49. . . . . . . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:52 PM (#3404961)
This may be my favorite use of the word "intangible". I'll resume lurking....

A CBW sighting!
   50. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3404962)
I'm often late to the received wisdom on these things, but is it commonly understood that Mussina isn't going to go in, or isn't worthy?
   51. BDC Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:54 PM (#3404964)
is he just a decent-to-good pitcher

Padilla is a Godawful-to-OK pitcher with a history of bizarre inconsistency. Hence his inconsistency in the postseason is pretty consistent :)
   52. Walt Davis Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:55 PM (#3404965)
the Veterans' Committee isn't exactly as rigorous in its standards as the BBWAA.

The current VC hasn't come close to electing anybody. No doubt it will be restructured soon for that very reason but, if not, by the time Morris comes to the VC, most of the guys on the VC will be the guys who tagged Morris for that 3.90 ERA and pitchers who scoff at that 3.90 ERA. You think Seaver, Carlton, Jenkins, Maddux, etc. are gonna buy this "workhorse who pitched to the score" crap?

I could be wrong of course. We'll see how John, Kaat and maybe Blyleven fare.
   53. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 06:55 PM (#3404966)
I'm often late to the received wisdom on these things, but is it commonly understood that Mussina isn't going to go in, or isn't worthy?


The general view around here is that he's:
1) Worthy of election to the Hall,
2) A tier below a bunch of the other pitching candidates of his generation, and
3) Likely to get screwed in the voting when he appears on the ballot.
   54. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:02 PM (#3404968)
EDIT: Also, I hadn't looked at Morris's statline in a while so I was under the mistaken impression that Morris had a number of 23- and 24- win seasons on his resume, given all the hoopla surrounding him. Not so. He has just the 21, 21, and 20 win seasons. He led the league in wins twice; Mussina once.

Morris was top 5 in the league in wins nine times in 14 years; top 10, 12 times in 14 years.
   55. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3404972)
Both share with other Tiger greats getting royally screwed by the Hall of Fame voters. It doesn't surprise any Tiger fan who pays the slightest attention to the Hall of Fame that a big chunk of the sentiment for Morris derives from a game he pitched for someone other than the Tigers


I'm generally VERY unsympathetic to claims of voter bias (pro-NY, anti-small market, etc.), but damn is it hard not to see some kind of persistent anti-Detroit bias. Lolich and Morris are both borderline candidates anyway, but there's Trammell, Whitaker, Darrell Evans, and a generation earlier, Bill Freehan is among a very small handful of guys with double-digit All-Star appearances who isn't in the Hall of Fame (among guys who've been voted on, I think he's joined by Rose and McGwire) (edit: Rose, of course, hasn't actually been voted on; the other >10 AS-game appearance guys though are either active, just retired, or first appearing this year (Alomar, Larkin)).

is it commonly understood that Mussina isn't going to go in, or isn't worthy?


Upon his retirement, we had several very long threads which probably exceeded 1,000 posts combined on these questions. I think there's a fairly solid consensus here that he's "worthy" in the broad HOM-sense of being among the best 250-300 players ever, although some dispute over where precisely he falls there (and, of course, there's plenty of disagreement here over whether being the 300th-best player of all-time should really be in the Hall of Fame).

In terms of going in, I think it's impossible to tell. He strikes me as sort of his generation's Bert Blyleven. The problem is that there's a pretty strong argument that he's only the 9th-best starting pitcher of his own generation (behind Maddux, Clemens, RJ, Pedro, Glavine, Smoltz, Schilling, and K. Brown in some order) (note: one could also make a fine argument that he's 5th or 6th-best among these pitchers, I think). The last of these will probably be one-and-done in HOF voting, but even at 8th-best it's hard to get a feel for how he'll do. He's presumably PED-free, which might help, but of the guys above him, only Clemens (and Brown) currently has a PED-taint and he's so far above Mussina that I can't see how that matters. I suspect he'll do okay in early voting but there's a real danger that he could end up falling victim to what could be the coming cluster#### of candidates, especially if "obvious" candidates keep failing to get elected but do get solid vote totals (Raines, Trammell, Larkin) and PED-tainted guys keep failing to get elected but do get solid vote totals (McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, et al.).

I do think that his 20-win final season will help, both because it finally got him a 20-win season and because it may induce some voters to "project" him as a 300-game winner, which he probably could have become had he stuck around until he got there.

So, to answer directly, I don't think there is a "commonly understood" BBTF consensus on Mike Mussina vis-a-vis the Hall of Fame.
   56. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:12 PM (#3404973)
The current VC hasn't come close to electing anybody.


The VC actually was just re-configured a little (they split the really old guys from the simply old guys) and they did just elect somebody - Joe Gordon (from the "really old guys" pool, I believe).
   57. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3404974)
The general view around here is that he's:
1) Worthy of election to the Hall,
2) A tier below a bunch of the other pitching candidates of his generation, and
3) Likely to get screwed in the voting when he appears on the ballot.



And therein lies the real divide, even more than the tangible/intangible one: Should there be a big hole with relatively few inductees among players in the 10-15 years before what we might call, in debt to Eric Hobsbawm, the Age of Extremes? B.D.C. hit on it above, with respect to pitchers born in the 50s. It can't be the case that the 50s spawned a generation of mediocrities. Something else must be going on, and that something else needs to be accounted for by the voters.

The something else likely falls among the following:

1. More innings expected of starters (within both a start and a season), starters don't go balls out on every pitch, aren't able to generate extreme ERAs.
2. Parks were more bunched in dimension, implying fault with the inputs to ERA+
3. Hitters less likely to go for broke, implying better success against elite pitchers.(**)
4. Relief pitchers weren't as good -- and/or as extremely good; combined with 1, starters in innings 6-9 had higher proportion of runners score.

(**) I noted a couple years ago -- others probably have too, and more thoroughly -- the significant jump (I'm thinking 33% or so) between 1980 and roughly 2006 in plate appearances resulting in a ball put in play that stayed in the park. This can't possibly be a function simply of higher pitcher quality. I'm suspicious that the phenomenon has more than a little bit to do with the Age of Extremes.
   58. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:20 PM (#3404977)
Morris was top 5 in the league in wins nine times in 14 years; top 10, 12 times in 14 years.


You're choosing your endpoints at "14 years" because Morris sucked when he was 38 and 39 (his 15th and 16th full years), while Mussina was able to have a strong season at 39 (his 17th full year).

Anyway, Mussina was top 5 in the league in wins 7 times in 17 years; top 10, 9 times in 17 years. But you may have noticed that Mussina was pitching in a larger league. So straight comparisons of this type are limited in their usefulness.

Let's look at top finishes in ERA, to use the traditional stat, even though Mussina was pitching in a larger league:

Morris had 5 top-10 finishes in ERA, including 2 top-5 finishes. But Mussina had 11 top-10 finishes, including 8 top-5 finishes. Which seems more "dominant" (this is Chass's criteria) to you?
   59. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:22 PM (#3404978)
It can't be the case that the 50s spawned a generation of mediocrities.


Why can't it be true of pitchers? There's nothing in the rules of baseball that says all talent must be distributed equally across all generations, is there? In the case of the Hall of Fame, we're talking about players whose skills and careers represent the very extreme positive end of what can and has been achieved in the game, and not the average. Take a look at the distribution of electees by the BBWAA at positions other than pitcher - there have been multiple gaps of 10 or more years between elections at a specific position.
   60. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3404982)
Why can't it be true of pitchers?

It could be. There just don't seem to be a whole lot of reasons why it would be. The answer lies, more likely, in the differences in the way the game was played and what was expected of a starting pitcher -- as I tried to sketch out in 57.
   61. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:28 PM (#3404983)
1. More innings expected of starters (within both a start and a season)


I think it's this one. Bill James once commented that if you look at the highest seasonal-IP totals since the end of the deadball era, they fall into three categories: Bob Feller, Robin Roberts, and pitchers in the 1970s. There was a big generation of pitchers who came up during the mini-deadball '60s (63-68) and then pitched HUGE numbers of innings in the 1970s: Seaver, Carlton, Palmer, Perry, Niekro, Sutton, Jenkins, and then, a cut below them, the non-HOF tier of John, Kaat, Tiant, etc.

So, I think that managers came to view this as "normal" and easily do-able. But, for some reason, guys who came up in the 1970s couldn't really do this, so you had a lot of guys flaming out with various arm injuries from being badly overworked (skimming IP leaders in the mid/late '70s): Fidrych, Frank Tanana (who reinvented himself as a junkballer and amassed a superficially long career), Gary Nolan (although he actually debuted in '67, so he may or may not count), Carl Morton, Andy Messersmith, Randy Jones, etc. My theory is that because the previous generation (Seaver, Carlton, et al.) debuted in an extremely low run-scoring environment, their arms were more naturally babied through the most formative years, thereby greatly reducing the risk to them of arm injuries (note: Jim Palmer actually missed the better part of two seasons with arm injuries, from which he re-emerged just AFTER the mini-deadball era (1969), so he's not a particularly strong point in favor of my theory).

One way that Blyleven is getting screwed is that he's being placed in the generation with the 1970s workhorses: Carlton, Perry, Palmer, etc. But, it turns out, Bert Blyleven debuted in 1970 and is only 4 years older than Jack Morris: what Blyleven really was is the only guy from the NEXT generation who could actually handle a 300-IP workload. In that respect, he's clearly the best of his generation, but so much so, that people end up mistakenly tossing him into the previous generation.
   62. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:33 PM (#3404986)
This is from a Chass column of last year:

By winning 20 games this past season, Mussina eliminated one of the strikes against his candidacy. But others remain. He was never been, for example, the dominant pitcher in his league in any season and never seriously contended for the Cy Young award.


He wrote a lot of silly things to me in some emails (justifying Morris over Mussina) which I could probably post without running afoul of etiquette, but I guess I won't.
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:36 PM (#3404987)
It's not just that Chass is trolling, but that he's intellectually dishonest:

My opinion of Chass isn't any higher than yours, Ray, but how can Chass be "trolling" on a site that he doesn't even know exists? If anyone's "trolling" here, it's Repoz, since he's the reason you even knew about Chass's blog to begin with.
   64. Walt Davis Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:38 PM (#3404988)
There's a general lack of HoFers from the "80s". There are probably a few reasons for this. (1) bad luck -- some of it astroturf related. The talent level does seem to have dipped some (not enough penetration into foreign markets yet maybe ... certainly Latin sluggers were few and far between). Lots of guys got hurt -- seriously or in ways that severely diminished their game (Dawson's knees for example). (2) extreme competitive balance, among teams and players. Nobody dominated nothing. (3) The game was in transition, especially for pitchers. Morris was too late for the 37-start, 270 IP era but too early to benefit from adjusted expectations due to the 5-man rotation.

Anyway, I mainly come down to: Morris pales in comparison to the starter who came immediately before him and immediately after him. He is quite comparable to Tanana and Martinez and reasonably comparable to the rejected candidates just before him (John, Kaat). He didn't dominate his era, he doesn't compare to the pitchers immediately before/after, and be posted a barely above-average ERA for his era. I really don't see a single reason to vote for him but not Tanana, Martinez, John, Kaat, Brown and maybe even Reuschel. Morris takes the wins category versus some of these guay (and the game-7 WS category) and that's it.

Now, the HoF wouldn't be embarrassed by inducting Tanana, Martinez, etc. but I wouldn't vote for them, the writers didn't vote for them (I'm pretty sure Tanana, Martinez and Reuschel were one and done, I expect the same for Brown) so, no, I really don't see a case for Morris in that light.
   65. shock Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:38 PM (#3404989)
Statistics are now used to pad stats


Murray, when you finally do completely lose your mind, how will anyone tell?

Jack Morris's clutch postseason pitching for the Jays should never be forgotten.

PS

“It’s supposed to be about winning,”


What is the name of that logical fallacy where two completely different concepts are incorrectly conflated and a known statement ("It's about winning") about one concept (Team wins) is illogically used to prop up the importance of something completely different (Personal wins,) simply because it has the same name? I know there's a name for that kind of argumentation, but I'm blanking.

If you had a stat that was the same as "wins" in every way (pitcher goes 5+ innings, leaves with lead, team wins,) but had a completely different name ("Banzai Points") would anybody give a #### about it? Would anybody care that Jack Morris has 254 Banzai Points?
   66. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:39 PM (#3404990)
As to Magical Moments, the Hall's voting guides do of course speak to this topic, in a limited way:

Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.


That of course only means that one shouldn't vote for a player solely because of those kinds of performances. But it does strongly suggest that the Hall doesn't want voters placing too much weight on these things. The rules have so little criteria in them -- and, yet, the Hall went out of its way to mention this.
   67. HGM Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:40 PM (#3404992)
My opinion of Chass isn't any higher than yours, Ray, but how can Chass be "trolling" on a site that he doesn't even know exists? If anyone's "trolling" here, it's Repoz, since he's the reason you even knew about Chass's blog to begin with.

As Chass so eloquently puts it in his About section, his site is not a site for baseball blogs. Murray Chass is not a fan of blogs. In fact, he hates them.
   68. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:41 PM (#3404993)
I asked Morris how he felt about the so-called sophisticated statistics, the ones with the fancy initials. “I’m really not familiar with them,” he said. “I don’t even know what they are.”
I haven't read this whole thread, so I don't know if someone else has noted it, but I wanted to point out that, especially given Chass's whining about the Cy Young awards this year -- but also having read this sort of luddism from proud sportswriter innumerates over the years -- Chass actually counts things like "ERA" as a "so-called sophisticated statistic... with fancy initials."
   69. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:41 PM (#3404994)
My opinion of Chass isn't any higher than yours, Ray, but how can Chass be "trolling" on a site that he doesn't even know exists?


I didn't say that he was trolling on this site.
   70. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2009 at 07:44 PM (#3404995)
There's a general lack of HoFers from the "80s".


To be completely fair, the other reason is that they're still being elected. You mention Dawson, but he's likely to be elected this year or next. Raines and Trammell and Morris are still on the ballot. And, of course, nobody who played in the '80s has yet appeared on a Veterans' Committee Ballot. Taking all of that into account, and granting that they're still getting plenty of things wrong (e.g., Rice over Raines), I don't get a sense that the BBWAA has been particularly unfriendly to non-pitchers from the '80s.

As for PITCHERS, though: yeah, there's a real dearth of them.
   71. OCF Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:17 PM (#3405001)
Responding to a technical point from Ray's post 48:

(starting pitchers got more innings/decisions in Morris's era),

That's not true. For significant starting pitchers, IP per decision has remained quite steady for 100 year, at something in the 8.6-9.0 range. (Cy Young 8.90, Lefty Grove 8.94, Warren Spahn 8.62, Robin Roberts 8.83). Some of the 70's pitchers did run a bit on the high side of that (Blyleven 9.25, Perry 9.24, Gibson 9.14, Carlton 9.10). And 90's pitchers are all of the place: K. Brown 9.18, Stieb 9.24, Finley 8.57, Clemens 9.14, Maddux 8.61, R. Johnson 8.87, P. Martinez 8.84, Glavin 8.70, Schilling 9.01.

In that context, Mussina's 8.43 IP/decision is an outlier - one of the lowest averages for a pitcher whose record isn't contaminated by significant relief work. Morris's 8.69 is also slightly on the low side, but not an outlier like Mussina. Dennis Martinez, a contemporary I often set against Morris in these discussions, had a 8.92 IP/decision.

So it's Mussina who is unusual there. When I do my RA+ equivalent records for HoM purposes, I assign one decision per 9 IP - hence my equivalent record for Mussina will have fewer decisions than his actual record. I have Mussina's equivalent record through either 2007 or 2008 (not updated) as 236-147, which compares quite favorably to Morris's 226-199.

The shortage of 80's-centered pitching candidates is real. But if you want one to focus on, promote Saberhagen. And Stieb. Not Morris.
   72. HGM Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:28 PM (#3405004)
OCF - Ray can correct me but I don't think he meant "IP per decision" but rather just that starters got more innings AND decisions in Morris's era.
   73. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:32 PM (#3405005)
Responding to a technical point from Ray's post 48:

(starting pitchers got more innings/decisions in Morris's era),

That's not true. For significant starting pitchers, IP per decision has remained quite steady for 100 year, at something in the 8.6-9.0 range.


Actually, I didn't mean "innings per decision" -- I simply meant innings and decisions. (Note that I wrote "innings/decisions".)

Basically what I was saying is that starting pitchers in Morris's era had a greater share of innings and a greater share of decisions than the relievers did.

Is that not true?

My thinking is basically: Starting pitchers went deeper into games in Morris's era; therefore, they tended to get more decisions; therefore, they tended to get more wins.

True? Or false?

EDIT: Yes, HGM has it right.
   74. WallyBackmanFan Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:42 PM (#3405009)
Ray,

I had the misfortune of being in a car with Michael Kay on the radio the day after the Yanks won the World Series. Of all the possible narratives (Matsui's MVP, A-Rod getting a ring, "The Core's 5th" etc.), within his first hour on the air, Kay suggested that maybe having Mussina out of the locker room had something to do with it. He admitted to personally disliking Mussina, but that we should not discount chemistry, and maybe it wasn't a coincidence that the Yanks won their last Series the year before Mussina arrived, and had to wait until he was gone to win another. Again, in the first hour of his show.

I'd vote yes on Mussina. I don't think he'll get in. When the time comes, the anti-Mussina voters will write all sorts of Bizarro Pro-Morris arguments.
   75. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:48 PM (#3405010)
My thinking is basically: Starting pitchers went deeper into games in Morris's era; therefore, they tended to get more decisions; therefore, they tended to get more wins.

True? Or false?


1970: 3888 starts, 24859.0 IP, 6.39 IP/start
1975: 3868 starts, 25297.2 IP, 6.54 IP/start
1980: 4210 starts, 26651.0 IP, 6.33 IP/start
1985: 4206 starts, 26162.1 IP, 6.22 IP/start
1990: 4210 starts, 25521.0 IP, 6.06 IP start
1995: 4034 starts, 23907.1 IP, 5.93 IP/start
2000: 4858 starts, 28756.1 IP, 5.92 IP/start
2005: 4862 starts, 29135.1 IP, 5.99 IP/start
2009: 4860 starts, 28257.1 IP, 5.81 IP/start
   76. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:52 PM (#3405011)
Thanks, Ryan. So the first part of my statement, at least, is true: starting pitchers went deeper into games in Morris's era.

That being the case, I can't see how the next two parts of my statement wouldn't follow.
   77. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 08:52 PM (#3405013)
WallyBackman: That's an interesting story about Kay, though, unfortunately, not all that surprising.
   78. OCF Posted: December 06, 2009 at 09:16 PM (#3405020)
There is a compensating factor for 90's-style pitchers. Yes, they get fewer innings per season, and hence fewer decisions and fewer wins per season. But some of them - and that includes Mussina - have had very long careers. So the per-season value is down but not necessarily at the expense of the career value.
   79. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 09:18 PM (#3405022)
Thanks, Ryan. So the first part of my statement, at least, is true: starting pitchers went deeper into games in Morris's era.


No problem, Ray. If anything, you should be thanking B-R and the wonderful league splits data.

One extra thing: While starters did go deeper into games during Morris' era, the difference is pretty trivial - it's only about one out per start. At that rate, the average regular starter (~30 starts/season) would see about 2 extra decisions per season, or one extra win.
   80. Baldrick Posted: December 06, 2009 at 09:28 PM (#3405026)
Would anybody care that Jack Morris has 254 Banzai Points?

I'd actually care a lot more about that than the wins. Banzai Points are awesome.
   81. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 09:56 PM (#3405038)
One extra thing: While starters did go deeper into games during Morris' era, the difference is pretty trivial - it's only about one out per start. At that rate, the average regular starter (~30 starts/season) would see about 2 extra decisions per season, or one extra win.


Yes, but 2 extra decisions, or one extra win, can be crucial to winning 20 games -- they can be the difference between winning 20 or not.

Remember, Mussina was "famous" for coming just short of 20 wins. He had two 19 win seasons. He had three 18 win seasons. An extra couple of decisions in those years, and given that he won 63.8% of them for his career -- perhaps more than that in his really good years -- would likely have netted Mussina 20-win seasons in two or three of those five years. Then we're looking at a pitcher who won 20 games three or four times, rather than once, and, more importantly, he never gets branded with the silly label "can't win 20 games" -- which his 2008 year showed was not true.

The other thing that was really, really, really stupid and asinine about the "can't win 20 games" thing is that without the strike he very likely wins 20 games both years. In 1994 he had 16 wins in 112 team games, which is a pace of 23.1 wins for a full season. In 1995 he had 19 wins in 144 team games, which is a pace of 21.4 wins for a full season.

The deeper you dig into the claim that he couldn't win 20 games, the more and more brain dead it becomes.

Oh, and here's another reason the claim is all kinds of moronic: In 1996, sitting on 19 wins, he pitched into the 8th inning of the 157th game of the season with a 7-5 lead. He gave up a single to open the inning, at which point he was pulled -- in line to pick up his 20th win. Alan Mills and Jesse Orosco couldn't get out of the inning with the lead intact. Mussina received a no-decision.

You don't think he pitched well enough in that game to dispel the notion that he was a 20-win choker? Ok, here's his very next start: In the 162nd game of the 1996 season, sitting on 19 wins, he pitched 8 full innings, giving up just 1 run, walking 2 and striking out 9. He was pulled so that Armando Benitez could start the bottom of the 9th with a 2-1 lead. Thus, Mussina was, again, in line to pick up his 20th win. It was Benitez -- not Mussina -- who choked, giving up an Ed Sprague homer to send the game into extra innings, and to send Mussina to a no-decision.

The idea that Mussina couldn't win 20 games was always sheer idiocy, to the nth degree. Someone who expressed that view was simply not to be taken seriously.
   82. God Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:05 PM (#3405042)
There's a general lack of HoFers from the "80s". There are probably a few reasons for this. (1) bad luck ... (2) extreme competitive balance ... (3) The game was in transition, especially for pitchers.

I would add (4) cocaine.
   83. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:16 PM (#3405047)
1970: 3888 starts, 24859.0 IP, 6.39 IP/start
1975: 3868 starts, 25297.2 IP, 6.54 IP/start
1980: 4210 starts, 26651.0 IP, 6.33 IP/start
1985: 4206 starts, 26162.1 IP, 6.22 IP/start
1990: 4210 starts, 25521.0 IP, 6.06 IP start
1995: 4034 starts, 23907.1 IP, 5.93 IP/start
2000: 4858 starts, 28756.1 IP, 5.92 IP/start
2005: 4862 starts, 29135.1 IP, 5.99 IP/start
2009: 4860 starts, 28257.1 IP, 5.81 IP/start


This isn't perfect by any stretch but looking at the number of 20-game winners for the same seasons we get:

1970: 11
1975: 7
1980: 7
1985: 6
1990: 6
1995: 0
2000: 4
2005: 4
2009: 0

This shows a clear drop in the number of 20-game winners -- and remember that now there is a larger league, and more starting pitchers, than in Morris's day. Yet, less starting pitchers are winning 20.

Average number of 20-game winners per team, to adjust for league size:

1970: 11 pitchers, 24 teams = .46 20-game winners per team
1975: 7 pitchers, 24 teams = .29 per team
1980: 7 pitchers, 26 teams = .27 per team
1985: 6 pitchers, 26 teams = .23 per team
1990: 6 pitchers, 26 teams = .23 per team
1995: 0 pitchers, 28 teams = .00 per team (if there were 1 pitcher it would have been .04)
2000: 4 pitchers, 30 teams = .13 per team
2005: 4 pitchers, 30 teams = .13 per team
2009: 0 pitchers, 30 teams = .00 per team (if there were 1 pitcher it would have been .03)

It seems clear that pitchers won 20 games less frequently in Mussina's time than in Morris's time.

If you ever come across someone who is so stupid as to have expressed the view that Mussina "couldn't win 20 games," I would advise you not to leave small children in the care of this person.
   84. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:30 PM (#3405050)
Most of the remaining 80's HOF position player candidates have issues:

Dale Murphy's bat drove off a cliff
Harold Baines was never really a star outside Chicago
Pedro Guerrero didn't play enough
Keith Hernandez was a bit short on career
Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich were too subtle
Donnie got hurt
Kent got fat
Parker found coke, got fat, found the right path, stayed fat
Joe Carter wasn't that good
Tony Fernandez got flaky
Strawberry and Davis got hurt too much

So who are we really talking about getting the shaft?

Tim Raines.
Maybe Will.
Maybe Alan.
Maybe Dewey

Not that bad of a job by the voters really. Just that kinda decade.......
   85. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:39 PM (#3405054)
Rightfully not at all. He was 37 and washed up.

He won 21 games during that regular season. (Yes, it was with a 102 ERA+. But the 3 20-win seasons are cited in his favor all the time, and a 102 ERA+ doesn't scream "washed up" to me anyway.)
   86. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:43 PM (#3405057)
Let's look at top finishes in ERA, to use the traditional stat, even though Mussina was pitching in a larger league:


Just a minor correction here: Mussina and Morris pitched in leagues of the exact same size throughout their entire careers.
   87. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:48 PM (#3405060)
Why can't it be true of pitchers?

It could be. There just don't seem to be a whole lot of reasons why it would be. The answer lies, more likely, in the differences in the way the game was played and what was expected of a starting pitcher -- as I tried to sketch out in 57.
There doesn't have to be a "reason." We're talking about a very small number of individuals at the tail end of a distribution. A few flukes, and they don't exist. Take Pedro, Rocket, Big Unit, and Maddux out of this era -- let's say that Pedro stays a reliever, and the other three get hurt by age 25 -- and all of the sudden it's looking relatively shallow in this era.

I'm not denying that changes in the way the game was played can make a big difference; obviously they can, particularly with pitching, where usage plays such a big role in performance. But there doesn't have to be an explanation. It's important not to forget how few players we're talking about at any time. This may be a high-offense era (caused by whatever explanation you want), but take three players out of the game - McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds -- and nobody has broken Maris's mark despite the high offensive levels.
   88. Cooper Teenoh Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:49 PM (#3405061)
A 300-win career has meant automatic election...Morris won 254 games in an 18-year career, but one win that isn’t included in that regular-season total is the 10-inning 1-0 decision he gained against Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. That game, one of the greatest games ever pitched, epitomized Morris’ pitching style...his 3.90 earned run average, which some voters think was too high to merit consideration


The thing that makes my head spin about this quote is that a 10 inning shutout is thought to "epitomize" Morris's career. I suppose if Chass means that it is an ideal example of what Morris was capable of, that's accurate, but meaningless - it would suggest that Harvey Haddix, for one, should be in the Hall before Morris. He seems to be saying that this is representative of Morris' work. I'm fairly sure that if Jack Morris' typical pitching performance was a complete game shutout, there would be no objectors to his Hall of Fame candidacy or election.
I'm not sure if this is laziness, dishonesty, or senility at work for Chass here.
   89. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:52 PM (#3405064)
Just a minor correction here: Mussina and Morris pitched in leagues of the exact same size throughout their entire careers.


Yes, you're right about that. I had missed that expansion changed the number of teams in the NL, but not the AL.

14 teams in the AL for each of Morris's and Mussina's career.
   90. . Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:53 PM (#3405066)
Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich were too subtle

The 80s were subtle; jazz in a narrow key. That appears to be the problem.
   91. OCF Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:54 PM (#3405067)
The Hall of Merit opinions on Harveys' list in #84: We elected all four of the people he mentioned after he said "who are we really talking about", and also the "too subtle" Grich and Whitager, and Keith Hernandez. And Willie Randolph, whom he didn't mention. And Andre Dawson. And some pitchers (Blyleven, Stieb, Saberhagen).

Of course there are also some players who are HoF and HoM both; Harveys didn't mention them because he said "remaining" candidates: Schmidt, Carter, Brett, Yount, Fisk, Winfield, Ozzie, Murray, Sandberg, Molitor, Boggs, RIpken, Gwynn.
   92. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 06, 2009 at 10:55 PM (#3405068)
OCF:

I specifically called out position players.

I like Willie. Fine player. But Hall of Fame? That's stretching things a bit......
   93. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:00 PM (#3405071)
The Hall of Merit opinions on Harveys' list in #84: We elected all four of the people he mentioned after he said "who are we really talking about", and also the "too subtle" Grich and Whitager, and Keith Hernandez. And Willie Randolph, whom he didn't mention. And Andre Dawson. And some pitchers (Blyleven, Stieb, Saberhagen).


So the HoM elected:

Raines
Clark
Trammell
DwEvans
Grich
Whitaker
KHernandez
Randolph
Dawson
Blyleven
Stieb
Saberhagen

Wow, of those 12, that's about half a dozen players too many.

I'd far rather have what the HOF did with these players than what the HOM did.
   94. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:04 PM (#3405074)
I like Willie. Fine player. But Hall of Fame? That's stretching things a bit......


Agreed. Same with a number of the other players that they apparently elected. (I mean, Saberhagen? Do they think he didn't get hurt or something?)
   95. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:04 PM (#3405075)
I like Willie. Fine player. But Hall of Fame? That's stretching things a bit......


Yeah, he's at that end where the HoM having decided to have the same number of players as the real Hall of Fame shows that one of the problems with the Hall of Fame is probably that it's too big: Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Keith Hernandez, Ken Boyer, maybe Andre Dawson (the HoM elected him before the HoF, which somehow feels backward), maybe Edgar this year. I more or less agree with the Hall of Merit's take on these guys (without doing anything close to serious analysis of my own), it just seems like the in/out line should be just above these guys instead of just below it.
   96. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:06 PM (#3405076)
Wow, of those 12, that's about half a dozen players too many.

I'd far rather have what the HOF did with these players than what the HOM did.


From my admittedly limited reading of their stuff, I think the HoM is very focused on "treating players of all eras fairly" so they like balance across eras, which probably leads to too many (IMHO) guys from the 1980's.
   97. Howie Menckel Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:07 PM (#3405077)
"Yet, less starting pitchers are winning 20."

FEWER

If you hadn't boldfaced "less," I'd have let it go.
;)

As for Morris and Blyleven, it amuses me to no end that they pitched against each other in Game 2 of the 1987 ALCS, Tigers vs Twins.

Blyleven won, 6-3, going 7.3 IP (he allowed the third run while leading, 6-2 - maybe he was "pitching to the score." lol)

Morris allowed 6 ER in 8 IP.

In Game 5, with the Twins leading the series, 3-1, they sent Blyleven out there on 3 days rest while our Mr. Clutch did not pitch. Blyleven allowed 3 ER in 6 IP (quality start) to pick up his 2nd win of the series, while Doyle Alexander allowed 4 ER and didn't get out of the 2nd inning.

Morris was 18-11 with a 3.32 ERA that year at age 32 (not that anything beyond '18' matters of course), while Blyleven was 15-12 with a 4.01 ERA at age 37.

The Twins went on to win the World Series.
Blyleven contributed to two WS winners as did Morris; Jack also collected a 3rd ring in spite of losing two WS games just one year after refusing to lose that famed game (maybe he got bored?).
   98. RJ in TO Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:07 PM (#3405078)
(I mean, Saberhagen? Do they think he didn't get hurt or something?)


Saberhagen was a peak/big-year candidate. From what I remember, Randolph got in at least partially because he happened to be the best guy left on the lists in a year with a weak new class - remember, the Hall of Merit is structured to always elect someone, even if there is considerable disagreement on who that person is. There's no need to clear a specific percentage of votes, but only to receive the most of all eligible players.

EDIT:Here's the voting results for when Saberhagen was elected.

And here's the voting results for when Randolph was elected.

Both just barely squeaked in on "Elect 3" years.
   99. Howie Menckel Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:10 PM (#3405079)
Indeed, maybe half those guys were not on as many as half the ballots, even though we must name the top 15 players available (recall there is perpetual eligibility).

It's fair to say that anyone like that was in effect rejected by the HOM as a high-quality HOF-level candidate; as noted, they're just the placeholders replacing the truly awful selections.
   100. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 06, 2009 at 11:14 PM (#3405081)
Saberhagen was a peak/big-year candidate.


Saberhagen has maybe five seasons that fit nicely into a HOF peak. The others either weren't good enough to be nice peak seasons, or didn't have the quantity. There's just not enough bulk there, and Saberhagen's peak seasons aren't nearly high enough to offset that.

I love Saberhagen, but I'd almost go so far as to call him a silly election.
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