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Jon Heyman reveals his Hall of Fame ballot, so once again we discuss Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven

Dec 15, 2010, 4:59 PM EDT


Jon Heyman just tweeted his Hall of Fame ballot: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Tim Raines. I guess Jeff Bagwell does’t count for anything, but we’ll leave that to another post.

I wrote extensively on Heyman’s ballot last year, when he included Alomar, Andre Dawson, Larkin, Parker, Morris & Mattingly.  The first post in that series is here.  I won’t rehash every argument again, but I will raise this point once again: you can vote for Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame. You can vote for Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame. You can also keep both of them out if you’re a small-Hall kind of guy. You cannot, however, vote for Jack Morris and not vote for Bert Blyleven.

This is not about values and a simple difference of opinion. If it were, I’d leave this alone. This is a matter of intellectual consistency, because the contours of Morris and Blyleven’s cases for the Hall of Fame are basically the same, with Blyleven being superior in most respects.

Blyleven and Morris were both good, durable but rarely-considered-great pitchers. Neither won a Cy Young award.  Morris has three World Series rings, but he had a lot of help (Blyleven has two rings of his own, and he also had help, as all pitchers who get World Series rings do).  Blyleven had far stronger numbers in just about every other category.  Blyleven’s critics point to his winning percentage not being substantially higher than that of the teams for which he played.  He actually out-performed the teams on which he played more than Morris out-performed his teams. Bert’s career winning percentage was 38 percentage points higher than that of his teams. Morris’ was 30 percentage points higher. Each was dependent on their colleagues and neither was dominant in a way that higher-tiered pitchers like Seaver and Carlton and others were.

Morris supporters cite his win total, but Blyleven’s was superior. Morris supporters cite his playoff performances, but Blyleven had a lower postseason ERA and a higher postseason winning percentage than Morris did. Jack Morris was superior to Bert Blyleven in one single category: winning Game Seven of the 1991 World Series.  And really, I think that’s what it all comes down too.  But for a Lonnie Smith baserunning error we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Or am I missing something here?

I don’t deign to tell people who they should vote for on their Hall of Fame ballot. All I ask is an identifiable methodology and some semblance of consistency.  Voting for Morris and not voting for Blyleven exhibits neither as far as I can tell.

  1. ThatGuy - Dec 15, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Not to mention Blyleven has a pair of world series rings himself.

  2. The Common Man/ - Dec 15, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    I posted this elsewhere, but will re-post it here since we’ll undoubtedly get someone whining about “pitching to the score”:

    “In games in which his team scored 0-2 runs, Bert had a 3.35 ERA and a .193 winning percentage. In games that Morris pitched, in which his team scored 0-2 runs, Jack had a 4.00 ERA and a .134 winning percentage. If pitching to the score were really a thing, wouldn’t we expect that Morris’s performance would be better in those situations? Instead, we find that he actually performed worse relative to Blyleven.

    In games in which his team scored 3-5 runs, Bert had an ERA of 3.27 and a .595 winning percentage. Jack had a 3.56 ERA and a .598 winning percentage.

    And in games in which his team scored more than 5 runs, Blyleven had a 3.33 ERA and won .956 of them. When Morris was staked with a lot of runs, he had an ERA of 4.21 and had a .933 winning percentage.

    The only reason Morris has a higher overall winning percentage than Bert is that Morris’ teams scored 3 or more runs in 74% of his starts. Bert’s teams scored 3 or more runs in 66.5% of his. But Blyleven actually performed better than Morris in low scoring games, regardless of whether you believe pitching to the score is a real thing.”

    • billtpa - Dec 15, 2010 at 5:27 PM

      I think people deserve to see the “elsewhere,” because (as much as he seems like a very decent person and I don’t want to subject him to a bunch more flaming) he’s a HOF voter too, and people should get a load of the silliness of his methods…

  3. wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    I can’t get into all the situational data/minutia like some, but as just a “fan” who watched them both, I note the following:
    —Blyleven never felt like a dominant pitcher compared with his peers – Morris always seemed like one.
    —The article seems to overstate the help Morris got (Morris “had a lot of help”), and casually reference Blyleven’s help (Blyleven “also had help”.
    —Article seems to downplay what a big game pitcher Morris actually was, even though the sample size was small. But he won a lot of big games that put his team in the playoffs, or helped them win in the playoffs.
    —Article seems to ignore that Morris was the ace/anchor on 3 different teams that won rings – this is referenced, but only incidentally and without much fanfare. That’s actually a pretty big deal in an era where free agency wasn’t quite so out of control and only 4 teams made the playoffs each year.
    —Morris seemed to rack up a lot more all star votes, another indicator of his strength relative to his peers, even if an imperfect criteria. He also finished in the top-21 of MVP voting 5 times, (top 15 four of those) to Blyleven’s 2, over more seasons. Another “comparative” measure that should get more attention.
    —It almost seems like the quality of Morris’ teams is held against him, that he didn’t need to carry everything on his shoulders and his numbers are slightly lower than Bert’s in many areas. This doesn’t seem a “human” way to evaluate these two.

    I don’t even necessarily care about their win or strikeout totals. If there was a big game, you wanted Morris starting. It’s that simple to me.

    • aarcraft - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:13 PM

      Why should Blyleven be punished because you were wrong about him twenty years ago. His numbers are not slightly lower. Blyleven blows Morris away in nearly every facet of the game. If you thought Morris was better, you were simply wrong.

    • professorperry - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:16 PM

      In other words, Morris got lucky and so you “feel” things that aren’t actually true. If it was a big game, and you wanted Morris starting, that’s fair enough. But you wanted a less effective pitcher.

      Feelings are just another word for delusions. Or lies.

    • pitperc - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:39 PM


  4. Utley's Hair - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    I half expected a mystery pick on his ballot.

  5. florida76 - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Jack Morris also had three 20 win seasons, while Blyleven only had one. Blyleven also had a large number of losing seasons by a hall of fame caliber pitcher-7. Also, the hall of fame voters won’t forget Blyleven quit on his team in the 1980 season before returning, somehow I don’t recall pitchers like Nolan Ryan doing that.

    Blyleven had the great curveball, rang up alot of K’s, and was a very good pitcher. But was neither dominant or consistent enough for Cooperstown.

    • professorperry - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:34 PM

      That’s a legit feeling, but any actually significant numbers, rather than randomly designated landmarks, demonstrate Blyleven was better at baseball than Morris.

      Read this

      And here’s the other thing – Morris won games in which his teams scored runs. Blyleven pitched shutouts. He won games 1-0. He won more 1-0 games than any other pitcher in the last 50 years. If winning games 1-0 isn’t the hallmark of a great pitcher, I don’t know what is.

  6. largebill - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Anyone who would vote for Morris and not for Blyleven should lose their right to vote. Not just the right to vote for the Hall of Fame but vote for anything. If they are that far gone they should have no input on anything. They don’t even get to vote on toppings for the pizza.

  7. wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    Some of these posts from Morris haters are great. The Blyleven fans like to cherry pick the stats THEY think are important, like k’s (mowing down Mariners and Indians in April for more seasons than Morris) or differential ERA or now, the oft-cited “number of 1-0 games” won. While ignoring things like World Series rings, and voting in AS games, MVP or Cy, which ostensibly rank pitchers of the day against each other.

    The Blyleven fans have always felt Morris was the benchmark they were better than. He’s a great pitcher, but he wasn’t dominant in his era. I know I used the word “feel” which allowed some of you to jump on my remarks, but Morris was an ace, and was dominant. The Hall of Fame (or its voters) don’t admit people simply based on who had the higher numbers on the stats they care about most, it aims to determine who was a dominant player in their era. More people “feel” that way about Morris, even if you don’t like it.

    • Lukehart80 - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

      Please, tell us more about the “voting in AS games” advantage Jack Morris has…

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:38 PM

        Are you serious? Morris was a 5-time AS, Blyleven 2-time. But I guess All Star appearances (particularly for starting pitchers) are just another meaningless stat for Blyleven fans, since it’s one he doesn’t have a lead on Morris on.

        I get it, guys – the stats that Blyleven has advantages in are the ones that count, the ones that Morris has advantages in, don’t. I get it. Morris’ advantages are either statistical errors, complete misjudgments or part of an anti-Blyleven conspiracy.

    • Roger Moore - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:16 PM

      How about boring stats, like wins (287 to 254) and ERA (3.31 to 3.90)? And, FWIW, Blyleven didn’t wind up with a lot more strikeouts (3701 to 2478) just because he pitched for more seasons than Morris*. He also got more strikeouts because he struck out almost one more batter per 9 innings (6.7 to 5.8) while walking almost one batter less per 9 IP (2.4 to 3.3).

      What it boils down to is that Morris only looks better than Blyleven when you look at stats that include his teammates contributions. Morris won the World Series more often because he had better teammates. He had a better winning percentage because he got a lot more run support. When you look at stats that measure what the pitcher himself was doing- ERA, strikeout rate, walk rate, HR rate, innings, etc.- Blyleven generally comes out ahead.

      *Though you shouldn’t act as though having a long career is some kind of negative. A long career is generally a sign of being good enough to earn a roster spot for a long time. Blyleven threw a lot more innings because he was good enough to pitch in the majors when he was 19 and kept pitching for longer than Morris.

  8. wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    Please, tell me about all the huge games Blyleven won that Morris didn’t.

    • schlom - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:08 PM

      Morris post-season:
      Blyleven post-season:

      Morris had 13 starts and 7 wins, Blyleven had 6 starts and 5 wins. I guess you think those extra 7 starts and just 2 more wins are the most hugely important games in the history of playoff baseball?

    • The Common Man/ - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:18 PM

      Gladly. In 1979, Blyleven won Game 3 of the NLCS with a complete game in which he gave up a single run, putting his team in the World Series. In that World Series, he started once and pitched 6 innings, giving up 2 runs and got a no decision (though the Bucs won). Three days later, he came in to start the 6th inning and his team down 1-0. He pitched four scoreless innings and took home the win.

      In 1987, he pitched Game 2 of the ALCS against…wait for it…Jack Morris and went 7.1 innings, giving up 3 runs. He won because “Big Game Jack” allowed 6 runs (all in the first 5 innings). Then, he won Game 5, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings, to clinch the ALCS over Morris’ Tigers. That was Morris’ only game in that series. In Game 2 of the World Series that year, he went 7 innings, while giving up 2 runs, to take the win. He did lose Game 5, giving up two earned runs over 6 innings, however, like the choker he was.

      • fquaye149 - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:25 PM

        1987 ALCS: 0-1, 6.75 ERA. 1992 ALCS 0-1, 6.75 ERA. 1992 WS 0-2, 8.44 ERA. Those playoff series make up 1/3 of his career playoff innings. Add in the 1991 ALCS where he had a relatively pedestrian 4.05 ERA in 23 IP and you’ve got almost 2/3 of Morris’s postseason career as a mediocre-to-terrible pitcher. He had 3 great series (although one of them he pitched a grand total of 7 IP). And he had 3 terrible series. Meanwhile Bert Blyleven pitcher 47.1 playoff innings with a 2.47 ERA and only had one series with an ERA above 2.77 (it was 4.05, which, coincidentally is the exact same as Morris’s 4th worst series). But go on, keep raging against the machine.

      • fquaye149 - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:25 PM

        Oops–I meant to link to this:

      • professorperry - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:42 PM

        Nice work. Now the feely-guy above will fail to respond, having had his argument demolished, and will post again later in the thread about “big games.”

  9. schlom - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    There are only two things that could explain Heyman’s ballot: either he’s an idiot or that he’s friends with Morris or Blyleven did something to him (farted in his face/lit his shoes on fire). However it’s kind of hard to figure out which one it is. However the fact that he voted for Mattingly and not Bagwell makes me think that it’s for both reasons – not only is Heyman an idiot but that he also has a personal relationship with Morris/Mattingly (the fact that Mattingly has a strong chance to end up of manager of either the Dodgers or the Yankees probably explains his Mattingly vote).

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:07 PM

      Schlom, there’s a third option, a much more sinister reason (although the thought of Blyleven farting in Heyman’s face is hilarious) By voting like this, he’s basically peeing directly in the Wheaties of guys like Craig and any other blogger who knows how to read and do math and see how the Avg’s and pct’s compare. The whole B.B. > J.M. equation is clear, so people will write all kinds of stuff about it, and he gets his attention. Then he gets to sit back and say “It’s my vote I’ll do as i please”

  10. heiniemanush - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    I’m a Tigers fan and while I love me some Captain Jack I don’t really think he should get into the Hall. Mickey Lolich is the best Tiger starting pitcher of all time. Instead of flogging this Morris/Blyleven issue to a pulp why don’t we start bitchin’ about these mainstream media HOF voters who don’t give Alan Trammell any love. It’s bad enough Lou Whitaker got hung out to dry by these clowns but there’s still time to build a groundswell of support for AT to at least be considered by the old timers committee before he checks out.

    • Lukehart80 - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:32 PM

      Amen. Bert is going to get in, Trammell needs a lot more help. If a couple MVP voters had turned in different ballots or Cal Ripken had been born ten years earlier or later, I think Alan would be in. I hope he gets there eventually.

  11. largebill - Dec 15, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Also, Heyman can’t even claim ignorance anymore. Too many people patiently and (at least in my case) respectfully explained all these arguments to him in years past. At this point he is intentionally voting for the lesser player out of spite.

    For a thorough review of Bert’s HoF case check this link out:

  12. wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    Look, Blyleven is a very good pitcher, but it seems to be unimaginable to some of his rabid fans that he is not considered Hall worthy by the voters, or that someone (I guess an arch rival, judging by the comments) like Morris may be getting more votes. You cannot select only the statistics that suit you and cite them, for any player. The Hall is not about the statistics you think matter, it is about whether a player was considered a dominant player of his era. This is subjective, but there are obviously certain criteria that some voters value more than others. By many of these, Morris comes out ahead. Please don’t shoot the messenger. I didn’t give him the MVP votes, or the WS rings that I cite in trying to explain how it is possible that some consider him a better player. Morris was considered by many an ace. You can “rage against the machine” all you want, but the term was regularly used by his contemporaries. I’m sure someone will now debate that it was used more often with BB though…

    It’s ridiculous that anyone defending/supporting Morris is personally attacked/name called on the board, or that HOF voters are being accused of lacking integrity in their votes. I guess that it what passes for debate now.

    • The Common Man/ - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:36 PM

      Um…You know that Morris played for the Twins too, right? Had a fairly significant amount to do with winning that second championship, right? Or did you stop following him after 1990. I don’t think these “arch rivals” care who he played for. They just understand he was no where near as good a pitcher as Bert.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:53 PM

        Um, yeah, I do – thanks. I was referring to the “Bert v Jack” raging debate, not teams, so you are missing the point. I think the entire universe knows Morris played for the Twins. But thanks.

    • professorperry - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM

      Can you go up and respond in the threads were your arguments were refuted before starting a new post? Please? Pretty please?

      You’re right though – Morris “was considered” an “ace.” But the latter term has no meaning, and the considerations are based on misguided perceptions.

      Believe me, we understand your “feelings.” We just think they are not based in an understanding of what’s actually important and under the pitcher’s control.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:14 PM

        Dude, are you for real? Grow up, “pretty please” – obviously you’re just here to argue. The stats are out there for everyone to see and judge, and apparently you just can’t handle that many people that watched the game don’t see it the way you do. Clearly, they’re wrong, and you must be right. I guess as fans most of us just misunderstood what Morris was accomplishing. Commentators simply didn’t follow the game closely enough and wrongly “considered” him better than he was. Baseball writers are not correctly remembering how good he was or wasn’t, and their conspiracy against Blyleven is undeniable. Seriously, did you even see these guys pitch? Maybe you should quit hanging on individual words from people’s posts and do some real analysis you can present here to actually try to PERSUADE people instead of this fake lawyer routine.

        What exactly are your credentials? I must have missed that part, where you obviously had established some credibility to determine Morris’ reputation was unearned, that the perceptions were misguided, that when MANY people felt Morris was a stud, that was just their foolish unquantifiable feelings.

        Who’s “we” by the way? Do you have a team behind these posts of yours?

    • paperlions - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:48 PM

      So…what you are saying is that, because Morris was vastly over-rated by the casual fan, such as yourself, during his playing career, he should be in the HOF? Morris was a slightly above average pitcher during his career. Statistics are not made up numbers, they are a record of what occurred on the field, and the record shows that Morris was slightly above average and that Blyleven was clearly better than Morris.
      There is no such thing as a Morris hater, just people that want actual evidence to support their views….and…people that don’t.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

        Again, it”s not just about stats. If it were, there would be no need for a vote. There is plenty of evidence, it’s just not the evidence you like. 3 rings is more than 2 (with 3 different teams). The AS, MVP and Cy votes reflected who had comparative better seasons to a majority of voters.

        I guess the Blyleven fans are all right, and there’s just some giant conspiracy against him…that certainly makes more sense than the opinion of baseball fans and experts who rate Morris higher.

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:01 PM

        How many times did Morris win the Cy Young? How many times did he finish in the top 3?
        You really want to enshrine all of the slightly above average players with 3 rings?
        In 1992 Morris helped his team to a WS win by going 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA in the ALCS and an 8.44 ERA in the WS. Those must have been some key playoff losses that spurred the Jays on to victory.

        Putting Jack Morris in the HOF is like putting Harold Baines in the HOF.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM

        Does it not enter into your calculus at all that Blyleven happened to pitch during the richest era of starting pitchers ever? Which would account for both his relative fewer all-star appearances (they were going to Seaver, Palmer, Carlton and the many many other Hall of Famers against whom he competed), and for the vague “he didn’t feel like a Hall of Famer” thing, because he did suffer by comparison. Morris, in contrast, pitched during one of the weakest eras of starting pitching and looked much better than he was by comparison.

        But when you look at the numbers and adjust for era, Blyleven shows himself to be much better than the perception suggested, and Morris much worse.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:02 PM

        Yes, it does enter my calculus Craig. Then why not just compare the years they overlapped here, say from 77-92?

  13. blassball - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    Hall of Fame players do NOT quit on their team!
    Bert Cryleven quit on his team.
    He walked out – went home and needed to be begged to come back.
    He’s a quitter – not a Hall of Fame baseball player.

  14. wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    “Professor”Perry – I think you’re up too late. Time to get a good night sleep so you can bring some fresh, intelligent name calling to the boards tomorrow.

    “Feely” guy who actually watched baseball the 70s, 80s and 90s.

    • professorperry - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:45 PM

      Look honey, if you need to get all snippy to “feel” good about yourself, go ahead. I can take it.

      But so far every one of your arguments has been refuted, whereas none of the pro-Bert arguments has been refuted, at least that I’ve seen in the thread.

      Morris was a worse pitcher who had some great days and got great publicity for those good days. Blyleven was more consistently excellent.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 11:13 PM

        Yes, I was the one who got “snippy” by calling me a name, i.e., Feely Guy. Classic. Give me a break dude. That doesn’t make you come off like a serious poster, just a name caller.

        And was your comment “You’re right though – Morris “was considered” an “ace.” But the latter term has no meaning, and the considerations are based on misguided perceptions” an example of my points being successfully refuted? Because that doesn’t sound very factual or substantive to me. It sounds like your opinion. Which you are entitled to. So we can now argue over what an “ace” is or how you earn “ace” status…sign me up for that.

        As for other things I wrote being refuted, I don’t consider linking to stat lines or a few box scores that the entire universe has access to “refuting” the points in question, which are a bit more nuanced than simply “who has more strikeouts? who has a lower era? who walked fewer batters?”. And yet the points I have raised about leading teams to titles, or being picked for AS games, or finishes in Cy or MVP voting are dismissed without much rationale. Please tell me, in the years Morris was selected to an All Star game (before the classic 1991 Series) how he undeservedly got there that year? That would be refuting a point I made, about him being a dominant pitcher that season. I guess the argument is simply that BB faced stiffer competition when he played and Morris had easier competition. But it’s easy to say that and just leave it at that. Tom Seaver did not stop Bert Blyleven from winning games. And it’s also the case that Morris is compared against his contemporaries, and so are other players. They aren’t directly compared to each other. However, they do have a significant, 15 year period of overlap that could be more deeply examined. We should be talking about the years they were in the same league/division and Jack got an AS nod and BB didn’t, or more Cy Young votes. Isn’t that a good reference point?

        And funny how a player like Morris just lucked out by being on teams that won, no matter where he went. He had some agent! And it’s a good thing HOF voters are not permitted to consider things like leadership, or what kind of teammate he was – there’s not an easy stat column for that stuff anyway! Oh wait – they can consider that stuff? So it’s not just K’s, ERA and walks?

        It’s unfair to Morris from people who call themselves real baseball fans, to reduce his body of work and claim he gets by on the reputation of one classic Game 7.

      • professorperry - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:07 AM


        Your argument seems to be – 1) You like Jack. 2) He won titles. 3) People voted for him for stuff.

        Everyone else says, 1) All the numbers demonstrate that Blyleven was, in fact, better.

        To which you respond, 1) I like Jack and 2) Numbers don’t matter except for those that support me liking Jack. I love the one where you cite run support and your responder noted that run support is, in fact, a stat called run support. I know, I know, you like Jack. You were there!

        I like Jack too. There was a day in which he was definitely in the top 10-15 pitchers I’d want starting for my team. But our perceptions deceive us, our biases die hard, and I know it’s tough on you. I admire you for fighting the bad fight against all these informed voices here, and I’m certainly least among them. I just know how to read data, when this came up in the past I read the data, and I changed my mind, because sometimes you gotta know when you’re the dinosaur and the asteroid is coming for you. Spend your last hours railing against fate, if you must. Me, I’d go pour a nice tall drink and curl up with something warm.

        Maybe a cat.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 16, 2010 at 1:19 AM

        Not sure what all the “honey” stuff is about. But again, you can’t seem to say whatever it is resembling a point without name calling and theatrics. If you spent half as much time making some true points versus the utterly hilarious writing style (“I know, you like Jack. You were there!”) you could potentially contribute something here! But I think you’re at the wrong web site.

        I’ll keep it simple for you. Didn’t say I like Jack. But yes, he did win titles and brought 3 different teams there. And yes, his peers and baseball writers of the time voted for him for “stuff” on a very regular. I see a key tactic of yours is to minimize said “stuff”, but it’s actually kind of important “stuff” to be voted highly for these awards. Remember that crazy stretch of “stuff” when he was in the Top 10 of Cy Young voting 4 years out of five? Crazy “stuff”. And usually more of it than BB in most years they were both playing. Some would suggest it is evidence that Morris had some good years, better than Blyleven – for reference, check out 1981-1992 when they both played, against the same AL batters. But I know, all he ever did was win that one Game 7 in 1991. Whereas Bert was so dominant all those years. Honestly, there are some of us that look at BB’s line and think he had TWO really good years. Two.

        You say “all the numbers demonstrate Blyleven was, in fact, better”. Do you honestly think anyone got on this board to debate who had more career strikeouts, or a lower ERA? (And were you unsure of these numbers until you went back and “read the data” and changed your mind?). I gave plenty of examples where those data can be incomplete, imperfect, without context or are misleading statistics. But you just keep on “reading” the data. Are you serious? Your serious analysis is looking at stat lines? I think I’m starting to realize why some people cannot fathom why he’s not in the Hall. I feel bad for you if this is when you went back and changed your mind, because that’s probably when you stopped thinking about who was a better pitcher and what that could mean beyond the garden variety statistics.

        As for the run support stat I didn’t address, I was making a larger point – shocked that it went over your head. The point is that if you got run support, you might stay in a game where you didn’t have good stuff but could cost and give the bullpen a rest. Or, you might leave earlier, in the 5th, with a win in hand but with fewer k’s. What if you had a great bullpen? What if you didn’t? That might impact how long you stayed in the game. The point is, the run support stat doesn’t really tell you much of anything by itself about the 1986 Tigers and what they needed from Jack Morris on a game by game basis. It purports to tell you that you had an easier route to wins. But most of the Morris/BB debate has nothing to do with wins. Someone else could argue he didn’t need to attack hitters in the same way, and got fewer strikeouts, because he was more often playing with a lead. But hey, just go on “reading the data”. It tells you so much, especially when you sum it up and reduce it down to just a few points on a graph.

        Finally, you overstate my reliance on “perception” of how good Morris was, or more cleverly, the lazy shorthand of “I was there” and am stuck in the past. I don’t rely on any of this. But I can tell you I regularly heard and read Morris talked about as an ace, and rarely heard that about BB. I know – as you said, it was all misguided from those dumb writers and analysts. But at least I shared a common delusion with some of the best minds in baseball that were covering the sport in the 1970s and 1980s. Wouldn’t dinosaur be a better label for someone who finds their thinking limited by a few statistics? Statistics never mislead us, do they?

        On a serious note, I think what Morris did in a 12 year stretch from 81-92 was dominant. I cannot find even a 5 year stretch in BB’s career that approaches it.

  15. wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Paperlions, I would like to see Jack go in, but actually, if you read carefully, most of the gist of my posts is simply that I think he is more deserving than Blyleven if you ranked them. I’m actually not screaming bloody murder that Jack is not in, but what I am saying is that the case for him is stronger than for Blyleven to many of us. And that they don’t need to be compared to each other all the time.

    For some reason, the Blyleven fans (and the author of this original post) think Morris and Blyleven are each other’s reference points for any HOF debate, and that you can’t talk about one without talking about the other, and for the Blyleven fans, that even that comparison is unacceptable because of the macro and micro data they have parsed to death. They don’t see any possible rationale that Morris could earn more votes, and therefore, it must be some kind of conspiracy, or that the voters and Morris fans just don’t know what they’re talking about. Some of the posts here are laughable. The Blyleven fans think all of their data leads to one, and only one, inarguable conclusion, that Bert Blyleven was clearly better!!!! Why are they wasting all these keystrokes when the answer is so obvious?!?!

    Here’s the bottom line: They are both very good. I think Morris is a bit better. But you know what statfreaks and fanboys? There is no final equation that will lead everyone to feel the same way on this. So get over it. I understand why Blyleven gets consideration. If you can’t understand why Morris gets strong consideration, then you are just being lazy or you’re blindly loyal to “your guy”. Doesn’t make for very rich debate.

    Truth be told, I’m not sure either deserves the HOF. But I think Morris is closer. I’m sorry, I “feel” Morris is closer.

    • The Common Man/ - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:42 PM

      Yes, you do “feel” that way, and the only argument (beyond your feelings) you’re able to use is that Morris won 3 W.S. Which is funny, because Willie Mays won just one World Series. Bernie Williams won 4. According to your logic, Bernie should be considered better than Willie. That’s some mighty fine analysis.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 9:55 PM

        Um, no, that’s not my “logic” but thanks for trying. Nothing like a complete exaggeration like that to help make your point. (Can we take it a step further and say I am also claiming Chuck Knoblauch is better than Willie Mays due to rings?) But actually, it seems to be the logic of the Blyleven contingent here, that all you do is look at the data you prefer.

    • Lukehart80 - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:01 PM

      Redwings, you ask people to “quit hanging on individual words from people’s posts and do some real analysis you can present here.” The thing is, MANY people have posted links to real analysis, and that analysis points to Blyleven as having been the more-effective, BETTER pitcher. This isn’t “cherry-picking” analysis either, much of it involves as many factors/stats as can be measured.

      The pro-Morris case is the one based on a lack of analysis, not the other way around.

      If you feel that the Hall of Fame is for enshrining the most popular players, or players whose “reputation” and “aura” were strongest, so be it. I wouldn’t agree, but to each their own. If that IS the case, the debate here should be over the purpose of the hall. If you think the Hall is for the BEST players, the analysis you’re asking people to do has been done… it’s on the Blyleven side of the fence.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:16 PM

        Again, I’m not actually sure Jack belongs in the Hall. I’m saying I think he was better than Blyleven. We have all been staring at the same stat lines for years. But they don’t always clearly tell us (or tell us at all) about game situations, their fellow members in the rotation, the run support they got, the injury issues on their teams, etc. For every person who says “you are ignoring these obvious stats” I would say “you are relying too much on stats”. They didn’t face the same batters, didn’t have the same peers, didn’t have the same challenges, didn’t play in the same stadiums, didn’t even play in the same leagues the whole time, etc. The statistics people are linking to don’t hint at these things, but yet they are willing to claim a conspiracy against Blyleven and a pro-Morris conspiracy or lack of good information.

        So I actually think it’s more subjective than many would like to admit, and I have cited things that I think tell the story. If it were just about K’s or ERA or other stats, then there would be no debate. But clearly some people don’t think these stats are the end all, be all.

        I’m not interested in some giant debate on what the HOF is about and I’m not advocating that anyone get in on “aura” or reputation. And AGAIN, I’m not even advocating that Morris should definitely be in. But what I’m saying is don’t rely on statistics that don’t tell the full story, and then be confused that not everyone puts the same stock in those stats. The year Morris flamed out in the WS, statistically, does not tell us how important he was to that team, even if he didn’t notch wins in the Series. But as opposed to the people who want to insist Morris was simply overrated, for some reason (playing in that huge Detroit market and barely talking to the press), I would suggest that you don’t finish high in AS, WS and Cy voting and lead 3 different teams to titles by some lucky fluke.

        There are people that just want to keep saying, louder and louder, about the Blyleven stats that are better. But obviously not everybody believes they are as important or the only way to compare players. I’m actually a pretty big believer in math. But not most sports statistics.

      • tomemos - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:43 PM

        Wings, you seem to be saying that the impressions and memories of those who watched the games are more reliable than stats, because stats can be distorted by run support, their fellow players, etc. But why would only stats, and not impressions and feelings, be susceptible to that? In fact, people’s impressions about players are *much* more vulnerable to being led astray by unnoticed factors.

        For instance, you mentioned run support. Well, run support is measurable by a stat (it’s called “run support”). So those working with stats know that with worse run support, Morris would look far worse than he does. Others, however, are left with their feeling that Morris was dominant, a feeling that is surely due in part to all of Morris’s run support!

    • largebill - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:05 PM


      The problem with folks who argue these cases like you do based on “I remember what I saw in the 70’s, 80’s, etc . . . ” is you did not see all games played by the players in question. Even if you were a Tigers season ticket holder you likely missed the road games. Especially the west coast games that started at 10 PM Detroit time. And in comparing players from different teams you are even less likely to have seen all or even most of their games. That is why over a hundred years ago we started keeping box scores to record what happened in the games. None of us saw Babe Ruth or Babe Herman play baseball. However, we can easily look at the statistics and see which one is clearly better. Or to make it a clearer comparison, many writers during Dimaggio’s career thought he was better than Ted Williams some even said he was better than Ruth. We can use the actual record to see those writers were wrong. I saw both Blyleven and Morris play. I maybe watched a couple dozen starts for both as an Indians fan. I saw Morris’ no hitter on TV and was impressed. I don’t remember seeing Blyleven’s no hitter. Both happened whether I only remember the one. To be honest, I did not see either as an all time great in the middle of their careers. Same thing with Niekro, or Sutton. Reviewing their careers now that they’re finished I feel differently. Sometimes the cumulative stats tell a more complete story than anecdotes and faded memories. Basically reviewing Morris and Blyleven’s career it is obvious Blyleven even if underestimated was a top 20 pitcher. It is equally obvious that Morris was very good for some of his career but his totals were just slightly above average. Remove the names and look at his stats and Jamie Moyer’s stat line and they are basically indistinguishable. When you argue for Morris you are arguing for a Hall of Fame large enough to include Moyer. That means there are dozens of better pitchers who should be reconsidered for the HoF.

      • wingsfan2004 - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:19 PM

        Point taken, and to repeat, I’m not arguing Morris should definitely be in the HOF. I’m comparing Morris to BB.

    • kenbuddha - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:11 PM

      BTW, in a couple of your posts you state that more people think Morris is more worthy of the HOF than Blyleven. Here’s a stat you can’t argue against, if you look at the voting from last year, 400 HOF voters voted for Blyleven while 282 went for Morris. So, I believe your opinion is clearly in the minority. Blyleven should be in this year while Morris will clearly have to wait at least another year based on HOF voter trends.

    • billtpa - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:50 PM

      The reason that they’re each other’s reference points is laid out pretty clearly in Craig’s post. Bert was just clearly much, much, much better than Morris. They’re very easy to directly compare, and Bert comes out way ahead in every single remotely meaningful way. And yet there are people who somehow believe that Morris, among all the dozens of good-but-not-great pitchers who are roughly as good as Morris is, is not only in the same conversation with Blyleven (which he’s not), but was actually better than Blyleven (which is ludicrous). So it’s sort of just natural to keep comparing the two.

  16. dondbaseball - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    Being a product of the late 70’s and 80’s, I respected Jack Morris but after looking at the various stats, comparisons ERA+ and such, he’s not in the Hall of Fame but in the Hall of Very Good. I do think Craig hit the nail on the head with Jack’s great game 7 as to why he’s considered such a pitch to the score pitcher type that TheCommonman debunked (thanks for that, it was great). While I still am not sold on Bert be-home-by eleven, I do recognized he still had 3 different kinds of nasty curveballs and am slowly coming around on his candidacy. But as we all know we tend to compare to guys who somehow got in that maybe shouldn’t have. Is Bert better than Don Sutton or Phil Niekro? Does Jim Kaat deserve in?

  17. heiniemanush - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Whether or not one agrees with him about JM, I think Wingsfan2004 is awesome. He picked the wrong year for his NBC moniker, though. Wingsfan1997-98-02 or 08 would have been more appropo.

    • wingsfan2004 - Dec 16, 2010 at 1:36 AM

      Thanks – glad you enjoyed the show. Ultimately, the easiest thing to do is just lean on a few statistics, in which case no true debate is needed, and in which case the HOF is a worthless designation, or comparing players can be simplified down to a few stats that some hold dear. I have the nerve to believe there is more to these discussions than a few vanilla statistics. There isn’t enough serious discussion on career length, and how long one was a big force in their league. For many, it sounds like the HOF (or even just comparing players outside of the HOF) is just about racking up as many points as you can for as long as possible. But the HOF should have room for players who were brilliant for shorter periods, or who had a knack for winning and leading. But to hear many of the posters here, Jack Morris was nothing more than a one game wonder (who somehow got the ball in Game 7), was the beneficiary of a vast plan to pump up his reputation, and was just a guy in the right place at the right time. All the while, we’ve been brainwashed to not fully appreciate the average 13-11 BB season…

      • Bochy's Head/Timmy's Bong - Dec 16, 2010 at 3:04 AM

        So let’s look at one “stat” you do cite repeatedly to support your argument. Let’s pretend for a moment that AS selections should really matter. Morris beats Blyleven 5-2, right? Yeah, well, in three of the seasons Morris made the AS team, Blyleven was pretty clearly the superior pitcher (’81, ’84, ’85). Blyleven actually also made the ’85 AS team, but not those other two years. So even cherry-picking the 5 seasons in which Morris accumulated the honorifics you claim should matter, Blyleven was better three of the 5 seasons. AS selections are pretty shaky ground to make an argument; they depend largely on a half-season of data, and overemphasize shiny baubles like W’s. And in this case, they don’t help the argument for Morris over Blyleven.

      • JBerardi - Dec 16, 2010 at 3:20 AM

        You’ve convinced me. Morris is a clear HOFer under your weird, esoteric, personal interpretation of what a HOFer is. Well done, sir. Well played.

      • largebill - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:15 AM


        You say: “All the while, we’ve been brainwashed to not fully appreciate the average 13-11 BB season…” after talking about cherry picking stats. In that sentence you are not just cherry picking a singular stat – wins/losses (which if you’re honest you’ll realize is a team stat rather than an individual), but you are getting history wrong. We have not been brainwashed to not appreciate the average 13-11 season. What has happened in recent years as shown by CY voting is be have learned not to dismiss a players performance solely due to one stat (that 13-11) which is not completely under the players control. A pitchers record could be 19-12 and he could have pitched great or he may have pitched below average and got a lot of run support. A pitchers record could be 8-16 and if that is all you looked at you’d think he was lousy. Look at Nolan Ryan’s 1987 season. In 1987 Ryan had one of his best seasons of his long great career. However, folks (like yourself) who think wins/losses tell the full picture mistakenly believe he was lousy that year despite pitching over 200 innings with a 2.76 ERA.

      • tomemos - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:46 PM

        This conversation is getting genuinely weird. Wings keeps discussing all of these supposed non-stat factors–teammate contributions, run support, and now career length–that in fact are measurable by statistics. As I noted above, run support is a statistic, and so is career length (starts? innings pitched?). So our response is, “Let’s look at statistics smartly, in context, not as an absolute.” Whereas Wings’s response, and that of others like him, is, “Let’s just throw out the stats and decide what we were going to decide anyway.”

  18. rrrii - Dec 16, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Late to the game, but I kinda get where Wingsfan is coming from. I don’t agree, but I get it.

    Seems like he’s saying when evaluating players who may have values (perceived) that appear similar, it’s time to start looking at how those players were viewed at the time. Morris was viewed as an ace. It was a view that wouldn’t hold up if Morris were pitching today, with the de-valuing of the win as an important stat and with much better analysis tools at our disposal (ERA+, VORP/ WAR, WHIP, K/BB, BABIP, HR rate, etc). But at the time Morris was viewed as a horse, an ace, the anchor of a pitching staff. So when comparing Willie Mays to Bernie Williams, Mays was so clearly superior that number of AS games, WS wins, etc. don’t matter. But when comparing Bernie Williams to, say, Kirby Puckett, maybe those things get factored in to the argument when making the case for whose better. (Please don’t look up Bernie and Kirby’s stats, I just picked them to make a point).

    Again, not saying I agree, but I get the POV.

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