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Quote of the Day: Jon Heyman on Jack Morris

Jan 10, 2012, 10:33 AM EDT

Jon Heyman has been a Jack Morris supporter for a long time.  And that’s fine. He’s in the majority — the two-thirds majority as of yesterday — in believing that Morris is a Hall of Famer. But he tweeted this a few minutes ago and it rather irks me:


Look, if you like Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame, that’s great. I personally wouldn’t support him, but there are a lot of guys who are in the Hall because of actual fame and presence and things other than the stats and I’m not going to get bent out of shape if Jack Morris makes the Hall of Fame next year. I liked him when I was a kid. I have a weird fetish for reliable, above-average workhorses.  I won’t lose any sleep if Morris makes the Hall of Fame.

But let’s leave the “I saw him pitch” appeal to authority out of this. Sure, lots of guys saw him pitch. But they also seem to have completely forgotten or misconstrued what they saw, because the cases that are made for his candidacy often bear no relation whatsoever to his merits as a pitcher. He didn’t “pitch to the score.”  He wasn’t, objectively speaking, the best pitcher of the 1980s.  His one otherwordly playoff performance was not part of an overall fabulous playoff track record. He was good. Very, very good at times and that may make him a Hall of Famer.

But I can say this much with certainty: the “stat gurus” who are assessing Morris’ career are at least dealing in the world of fact. Not legend. And if the Morris supporters want us to respect their views on his Hall of Fame worthiness, it seems only appropriate that they respect the views of those who think differently about things and not disparage the anti-Morris vote as if they were the members of some cult.

Especially given that it takes far more, oh, let’s just call it “magical thinking” to believe that Morris was as good as guys like Heyman say he was than it takes to believe that his statistics compare unfavorably to other Hall of Fame pitchers.

  1. snowbirdgothic - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    I saw Bruce Ruffin pitch once, with my own eyes. He was awesome! Put him in the Hall of Fame, pronto!

    • 78mu - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      I saw Bud Smith throw a no-hitter. Instead of looking at the most wins for a decade let’s look at who was the best pitcher on September 3, 2001 and use that criteria for the HoF. If Ruffin gets in I demand Smith make it.

      • snowbirdgothic - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:56 AM

        I saw Bud Smith pitch, sir. He was no Bruce Ruffin.

    • phillysoulfan - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      Bruce Ruffin? Did you see Shane Rawley and Don Carmen? THOSE two were something to see.

      • snowbirdgothic - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:36 PM

        All I remember about Don Carman was Jayson Stark getting endless column inches about his epic 0-fer. I think I’ve repressed all memories of his pitching.

      • xmatt0926x - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Shane Rawley won 19 once for the Phillies. Wow. Memories. I seem to remember he had 19 wins with several starts to go and I can still hear Harry and Whitey being so sure that this start would be the one where he got his 20th. I have no idea why I remember those games from the “lost generation” of the Phillies. Don Carmen and Ruffin were the classic examples of why you wait to see a starter get at least 2 seasons under their belt before you annoint them as aces. They are the guys I think of, along with Pat Combs when I hear people swearing that Vance Worley is going to be a stud this year. I don’t buy it.

    • philliesblow - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      The only Ruffin that was any good was David.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:20 PM

        David Ruffin was great with the Temptations, but his brother Jimmy did have a hit solo.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    There are people who believe that the stats don’t tell you everything. Then there is sabremetricians. I’m somewhere in the middle.

    • patthewvvilke - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      People who think/say this basically give themselves away as having a poor understanding as to what sabermetrics are about.

      Sabermetrics aren’t about stats telling the story, just using better and better stats to help tell the story while dismissing noisier and noisier stats like RBI and pitcher W-L records.

    • largebill - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Stats don’t tell us everything, but they do reinforce or correct our faulty memories. Most of the worst Hall of Fame discussion stems from either writers relying on their memory or writers deciding on a position and then cherry picking stats that support their notion and ignoring ones that undermine this position. Both are intellectually dishonest.

    • Old Gator - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      “There are people who believe that the stats don’t tell you everything. Then there is sabremetricians. I’m somewhere in the middle.”

      Fiorentino goes moderate on us. Hearts are breaking all over the Tea Party.


    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      patthe…I once had a sabre guy tell me that getting 3 outs in the 6th inning are as pressure packed as getting 3 outs in the 9th inning. Why? Well, because there’s no statistical proof that it is any different. Once I hear that, I conclude that sabre guys think there are robots out there pitching and that stats tell the one and only story of baseball. You want to say that sabre is all about dismissing W-L record, I think you are being a bit naive as to what sabremetrics are all about.

      OG…I’m no tea partier my friend. I haven’t actually watched any politics because it is a foregone conclusion that Obama will be President for another 5 years. I don’t know why the R’s are even putting up a fight that is clearly unwinnable. Obama is as unbeatable as the Phillies with the 4 Aces…er, oh wait 😀

      • patthewvvilke - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        So, because one guy you know is robotic and rigid in his interpretations means that the whole institution of sabermetrics is extreme and under false assumptions?

        That’s just toxic, lazy logic when applied to anything in life, let alone statistical baseball analysis.

      • b7p19 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        What pat said, and it also starts wars.

      • jtorrey13 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        Regarding your comment on pitching the 6th inning versus the 9th innning, there needs to be more information.

        Is it a game in April? Is it a game in September between the Pirates and Astros? Which batters will be faced in the 6th and the 9th? (For example, will it be a combination of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez? Or will it be Marco Scutaro, Ryan Sweeney and Jarrod Saltalamacchia?) Is the starter still in the game and how many pitches has he made? How are his mechanics? Are the batters lefty or righty? And so on…

        Like everything, there is more nuance than we like to admit in our quest to prove we know it all. Is there three outs in every half inning of every game, except for walk-off wins? Is there 162 games a year? Scoring or preventing runs in every half inning helps you win, no matter if its the first or the ninth. Winning a game in April counts the same as winning one in September. Still doesn’t stop the last day of the season and the last inning of that game to be the tensest of the year as that is the only time where there isn’t a game or an inning the next day for the loser. Just ask any of the teams that make it or are eliminated on the final game of the season.

        But, a couple of better sixth innings in May or wins in June and a team wouldn’t be in that position. That may be what your friend was trying to say. You can win or lose a game in the 6th as easy in the 9th, it just might not feel as tense when you do.

      • mattjg - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:04 PM

        A more accurate statement is that at the Major League level, there is little or no evidence that a pitcher will pitch more or less effectively based on the inning.

        These guys have to have nerves of steel to even get to the Major Leagues. I suspect if you put you or me out there, we’ll throw differently, but we’re not Major Leaguers who are able to ply their trade effectively in front of 40,000 fans every day.

        Will certain pitchers feel pressure? Who knows. I’d guess probably. But the evidence shows that by and large they are mentally tough enough to overcome that pressure and the pressure does not affect their performance.

        There may be pitchers out there who are affected by the pressure, and do pitch somewhat worse in pressure situations. However, the amount of times we’d need to see that pitcher pitch in both situations (i.e. sample size) to determine whether the difference is random or actually a result of feeling the pressure rarely occurs.

        Therefore, we can safely say at the Major League level, it is a safe assumption that by and large a given pitcher will pitch equally as well in the sixth inning and the ninth.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:48 PM

        Wait a minute patthe, didn’t you just lump everyone who doesn’t subscribe to SABR into one large uniform group with a lack of understanding?

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        So if it’s harder to get hitters out in the ninth inning, that means that for hitters, it’s a lot easier to be up in the ninth, right?

  3. gosport474 - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I think it comes down to this: If not for Game 7 1991 would you even consider Morris for the hall? And if the answer is no, then should he be voted in on the strength of one game?

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      It’s funny how sabre guys go so totally in the opposite direction when it comes to Morris. Look, I don’t think the guy belongs, but he did finish in the top 7 in Cy Young voting 6 times and had a 9th place finish another time. I know the sabremetricians will attribute that to the BBWAA, and considering how crappy they vote for the HOF, then they will have a good point. But let’s not make Morris out to be some scrub who pitched a miracle game 7 and that was all he did in his career. He was a very very very good pitcher, who I don’t think had a great career. But he’s close…on the bubble. And to say anything less is not giving him his due.

      • hasbeen5 - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        I’m with Craig, I won’t raise hell if he gets in. But is being the 7th best pitcher in the American League a few times worthy of the Hall of Fame? I know not everyone likes the SABR idea, but I much prefer tangible numbers that at least make an attempt at objectivity to the “he pitched to the score” argument.

      • Marc - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        A list of the guys who finished in 7th place for the Cy Young during Jack Morris’ career (77-94).

        Juan Guzman
        Charles Nagy
        Kevin Tapani
        Chuck Finley
        Jeff Ballard
        Dennis Eckersley (2)
        Gregg Olson
        Teddy Higuera
        Frank Viola
        Britt Burns (2)
        Donnie Moore
        Dave Stieb (2)
        Jack Morris
        Bill Caudill
        Bob Stanley (2)
        Ron Guidry (2)
        Aurelio Lopez
        Ed Figueroa
        Larry Gura
        Dennis Leonard
        Mike Marshall
        Paul Splittorff

        Now explain to me how finishing 7th in the Cy Young qualifies you for the HOF. I’ll understand if you’re slow to respond, but go ahead; I’m listening.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Let’s compare Jack Morris to mystery player

      Morris pitched started 527 games, player A started 562
      Morris won 254 games, player A won 245
      Morris lost 186, Player A lost 193
      Morris 3.90 ERA, Player A 3.70
      Morris had 3824 innings, Player A had 3999
      Morris struck out 2478, Player struck out 2149
      Morris gave up 389 homers, player A gave up 372
      Morris had a 1.296 WHIP, player A had a 1.266
      Morris played in 5 All Star games, Player A played in 4.
      Morris had a 39.3 WAR, player A 46.9

      Okay, what about their peaks?
      Morris won 20 games 3 times, Player A zero, BUT
      Player A had an ERA under 3.00 in over 200 4 times (leading the league once) compared to zero for Morris.

      Morris maybe had a bit of a better looking peak (not better, better looking in terms of wins), but player A’s career lasted a bit longer. All told, their career numbers are extremely similar.

      Yet Jack Morris is on the verge of the hall of fame, and Dennis Martinez fell off the ballot after garnering just 3.2% of the vote in his first year.

      • Ben - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

        Ladies and gentleman, thefalcon123 has single-handedly killed Jack Morris’s hall of fame case. *Golf clap*.
        I appreciate that you used unadjusted stats, for the enemies of Saber Boy lurk everywhere.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        Again, sabremetrics being the be-all end-all. Peaks are key in this case falcon. Martinez only finished in the top 5 in Cy Young balloting twice. You can give all the compiling numbers you want for Martinez, but the fact remains that Morris had 6 top-7 finishes in the Cy Young voting. Give me another guy with that many finishes in the top 7 and compare his #’s to Morris.

        I’m NOT saying I think Morris is a Hall of Famer. But there is a case to be made on both sides. To put up a lame argument like that is, well, lame. Of course the sabre guys giving you thumbs up have wet dreams when they read what you wrote, but what else is new.

      • phillyphreak - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:51 AM

        Chris I think you need to be careful in justifying peak performance based on voter behavior. I think if this (and other) awards/accolades have taught us anything is that there is tremendous ambiguity in interpretation and application of rules and criteria.

        Stats on the other hand are (by and large) not ambiguous. Sure you can try to make a narrative out of cherry picking stats but those usually don’t stand up to scrutiny well.

      • gogigantos - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        If for no other reason than remembering El Presidente, I am glad for the post. Martinez was a beast in the wasteland some really good Expo teams toiled. That guy was a beast, one of the beasts of the 80’s for sure,, Stieb,, Key,, Raines,, Valentine,, Carter before New York,, Dennis Martinez for sure a tough Canadian hombre.

      • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:03 PM

        Wait Chris…now I have to find someone who had as many “Top 7” finishes in the Cy Young because 1 or 2 stupid writers gave Morris a third place vote when he in no-way deserved it?

        Well, using Baseball reference’s Cy Young Shares (think of it as a weighted total of Cy Young votes a player received) here are the eligible non-hall of famers with more Cy Young shares than Morris:
        Bob Welch
        Pat Hentgen
        LaMarr Hoyt
        Mike Cuellar
        Dean Chance
        John Denny
        Mark Davis
        Mike McCormak
        Jim Lonbord
        Tommy John
        Mickey Lolich
        Mike Flanagan
        Doug Drabek
        Vida Blue
        Frank Viola
        Kevin Brown
        Dave Stewart
        Jimmy Key
        Jack McDowell
        Orel Hershiser
        Mike Marshall
        David Cone
        Denny McLain
        Mike Scott
        Randy Jones
        Dan Quisenberry
        Fernando Valenzuela
        Rick Sutcliff
        Dwight Gooden
        Ron Guidry

      • ptfu - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        My gut says that list looks right for Jack Morris. Those are good pitchers, with moments of greatness. You want ’em on your team. But those guys didn’t have sustained dominance, or transcendent Koufax-esque brilliance, so no Hall for them.

      • kiwicricket - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        I mean this in the nicest possible way…But I really do think you are border-line psychotic sometimes Fiorentino.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

        but the fact remains that Morris had 6 top-7 finishes in the Cy Young voting.

        in ’91, Morris finished 4th and received 3 first place votes even though Roger Clemens threw 28 more innings and only gave up 1 more ER, struck out 80 more, walked 27 less, gave up 7 less hits, and even went 18-10 to Morris’s 18-12. How can you justify voting for Morris over Clemens that year?

        Let alone Mark Langston who finished behind Morris while throwing the same number of innings, giving up 36 less hits, twelve less ER, walking the same but striking out 20 more.

        Yeah, CY Voting is not a good justification.

      • mikeinfl - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        In 1994 Martinez was the leader of the pitching staff of the resurgent Cleveland Indians in their first year at Jacobs Field. Morris, at the same age and on the same team, was shelled regularly–especially his last five games. After each of those five games he jumped on a flight to his wheat farm in Montana and remained there until the day before his next start. Apparently it was harvest time and he needed to be there to oversee it. I guess. He was released after the fifth straight shellacking. I’m not saying it says anything about Morris–just a circumstance that most people don’t know and never talk about. That was the end of Happy Jack’s career.

  4. thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Yeah, how dare those dirty stat nerds say that Jack Morris gave up 1800 runs and say he’s not a hall of famer. I *saw* him give up those 1800 runs and he did it in a really hall of fame way.

    • nategearhart - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      But falcon, he pitched to the score, so he gave up those runs ON PURPOSE! Hall of fame!

    • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      Don’t forget that HOF mustache. Great mustache. Deserves to be enshrined. Can we just enshrine Morris’ mustache and not Morris?

      • kiwicricket - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        There is a strong presence of mustache in your posting today. This must continue.

      • Tim OShenko - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        True, it is a great mustache, but it’s still not even the best in Twins history. Even discounting the Pavanostache, and focusing instead on the era in which Morris played, his ‘stache would have to be compared to those of Frank Viola and Bryan Harper. Both Harper’s and Viola’s mustaches had a higher value at their peak. To be fair, Morris’ mustache had more longevity, continuing well into the ’90s after most other players had retired their facial hair. But as a HOF case, I don’t think that’s enough for it to be taken seriously.

      • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Now Tim, this is where you saberboys all fail. I SAW Jack’s ‘stache, kay? I remember that mustache, kay? I got a 30 year career of looking at ballplayer whiskers here, kay? Morris’s ‘stache is HOF baby.

      • foreverchipper10 - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM


        I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later.

  5. drmonkeyarmy - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I can’t wait for the season to start. I am about reaching my limit of stories about baseball writers and something known as a Saberboy.

  6. Norm B - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    FutureHeyman: “Andy Pettite was the best pitcher of the 00’s”

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Andy Pettite had a better career than Jack Morris, but he’s not a hall of famer either. But let’s not take away from Andy’s career. He had a very very good one as well.

      • Norm B - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        I agree, but Pettite had the most W’s in the 00’s, therefore he’s the best pitcher of the 00’s.
        (Jamie Moyer was third :)

      • largebill - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

        You make a valid point. It is awful to trash guys who had very good Major League careers just to refute dishonest commentary which makes them out to be better than they were. We should be able to frame our argument to show Player X doesn’t quite reach our particular HoF standards without denigrating their career.

    • 78mu - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      Jim Palmer won the most games in the 1970s. Did anyone have to trot that out as an argument for Palmer? Did Heyman think someone had to watch Palmer to appreciate how good he was? I never saw Warren Johnson or Lefty Grove pitch but I would never question their HoF credentials.

      Pitch to score, most wins for a decade, had to see him pitch – I expect his advocates to show that beer vendors got bigger tips in games he started.

  7. Jonny 5 - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Robbie Dibble was talking about Morris yesterday, saying how he pitched to the score. One more instance where I snickered at something Dibble said.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      Fine. I’ll buy Morris’ pitch to the score argument and counter with this:

      What kind of Hall of Famer pitches to the score? Does it benefit the team the have them stay on the field longer and track down more balls because the starter is trying to save his arm at their expense? Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Greg Maddux didn’t have to pitch the score, did they? Nope, they were team players unlike that selfish Jack Morris.

      • 78mu - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

        That was my argument. What kind of HoF pitcher would ever give up runs that he supposedly could prevent? And what player ever assumes it’s okay to give up a couple of runs because we have a four run lead? Did he leaver every game with a lead and the only ones he lost were the ones the relief pitchers couldn’t protect?

        If a team got down by four runs to Seaver or Gibson they knew they were done for. I guess with Morris other teams figured they could always make a game of it.

        Not only is the pitch to score uttter bs, it is not an argument in support of any pitcher.

    • El Bravo - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      Fun Fact: Dibble was my original, and only 2010 douchenozzle, and consequently began what became my officially unofficial DN list. I owe that man a lot for calling Strasburg a pu$$y and losing his job for it.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

        ” I owe that man a lot for calling Strasburg a pu$$y and losing his job for it.”

        In all fairness he probably said it by accident as he probably heard the same exact thing from Pete Rose a thousand and a half times 😛

  8. jfreedo - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I once heard Jerry Reuss pitch a no-hitter on the radio. Can’t believe he only received two votes. Curses, stat gurus!

  9. dsmaxsucks - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    I saw Jack Morris pitch a lot. I saw his no-hitter. I saw game 7. I saw his press conference sometime after game 7 wherein he kicked his hometown team in the balls and fled the country to pitch for Toronto. I saw him get his ass kicked in the playoffs pitching for Toronto.

    I saw it, and remember it with glee. If character matters, he was a jerk. I have the same suspicions about him that many have about Bagwell (in that I suspect he’s not a Hall of Famer).

    On the subject of Heyman, I saw this weekend he touted one reason Morris got his vote was because Morris was the ace, including over Blyleven. One thing I never did see was Blyleven and Morris on the same team.

  10. takingbovadasmoney - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Baseball is my favorite sport but I hate talking about it because the conversation almost always turns to stats. The article mentioned numbers are facts. Therefore indisputable. Wrong. Ask any accountant or person that works with numbers for a living. Numbers can mean whatever we want them to mean. If you go by the numbers Barry Bonds is in the hall next year.

    • phillyphreak - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      And how should one evaluate players?

      • mwilliams85 - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        By height! Jack Morris is listed as 6’3″, which is pretty tall. He’s in!

      • kiwicricket - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        Why, by the cut of their jib of course!

      • phillyphreak - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        Kiwi, I think you’re onto something there…

      • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        Mustache. Judge them by the hair on their upper lips. Morris had a HOF mustache…and HOF teammates. I saw him pitch too. What I saw was a mediocre to good to occasionally brilliant pitcher who gave up a lot of runs and was bailed out by powerhouse offences and backed up by HOF defence so often you’d think Morris was owed favors by the gods. And he could be a condescending snot, to boot. I can’t find a reference to it anywhere but I do recall, while he was being interviewed by Buck Martinez after the WS parade in Toronto, he made a point of telling Martinez that he, Martinez, “wasn’t very good” as a ballplayer. Real gracious of you Jack. I say throw out Morris but keep the mustache. Great mustache.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      True. I thought the Cardinals won 90 games this year, but I talked to an accountant and he said stats can mean anything, so I think they actually won 100 games.

      • 78mu - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Well, my accountant says they actually won 101 games in 2011.

        Even accountants can’t agree on things. Can’t let them vote on the HoF.

    • Ari Collins - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      That Jack Morris had a barely above average ERA is a fact. You can decide whether that’s a fact that has relevance, and you can debate whether there are other facts that are more important. But that 105 ERA+ is still a fact.

    • largebill - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      I hope you understand that the numbers or stats that you denounce are simply a record of what happened in the games that were played. If we only go by our faulty memory we’ll end up with Duane Kuiper or Buddy Bell in the Hall just because they were my favorites as a young kid.

      • 78mu - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        Wait! Duane Kuiper is not in the HoF? We need to start a campaign to get him in.

        Did he lead any decade in hits? Runs? Triples? Infield hits? Bloop doubles?

    • kiwicricket - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      I would love to know what you do for a living…

    • paperlions - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      I work with data for a living, and you most certainly can not make data mean whatever you want…you can lie about it, take biased sample of it, analyze it poorly, violate assumptions of its distribution, or any number of nefarious deeds to the poor innocent information.

      Statistics are not magical, they are just a summary of data, and data is just a fancy term for the record of events. Indeed, they are facts; they happened. It is the interpretation of the facts (what do we think they mean, which facts to we give the most weight) that distinguishes a good statistician from a bad one or a sound argument from a weak one.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        But baseball “statistics” are not statistics in the sense you refer to.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        Actually, yes, they are…they are a record of what happened, that people use to estimate what is real (or true). Like all such measurements, baseball is not deterministic, there is natural variation in the outcome of each type of event. The sum of those events estimate ability, production, and contributions to wins and there is error associated with those estimates because of the non-deterministic nature of the game (e.g. if the exact same pitch is thrown 1000 times, there is variation in the outcome of the pitch or if the exact same type of batted ball is hit 1000 times there is variation in the outcome of those batted balls).

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 10, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        Um, no they aren’t. At best baseball statistics are only half of the real thing.

        Baseball statistics are simple data, or, in the case of SABR, essentially formulas for the collection and organization of data. The field of statistics is more about the objective analysis interpretation of data. No baseball statistics actually measure the probability that something is “true”. There are no hypotheses or null hypotheses, and there are no confidence assessments.

      • phillyphreak - Jan 10, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        Ugh @wlschneider09.

  11. bkarbour - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Dwight Gooden for the Hall of Fame.

    No pitcher in my lifetime ever looked more like a Hall of Famer. Bendy arm. Massive velocity. Seemed like a two foot drop in his curve. If you saw him pitch, there’s no way you wouldn’t think he’s an all-time great.

    Of course, the numbers don’t back that up. But if you saw him pitch, he should have been in the Hall.

  12. thelucasjj - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Supporting Morris is fine, but the pitch to score argument is terrible. Joe Sheehan did an obstensive atrticle on it
    and so did Greg Spira

  13. largebill - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM


    Better be careful, you’re gonna get “Blocked” again.

  14. hammyofdoom - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Honestly, I hate hall of fame debate. I have seen “Oh he was just someone who compiled states” and “He was great, but he didnt compile enough stats to be a Hall of famer” literally be said back to back when talking about two different guys. I’ve heard guys like Jon heyman say “Look he had 250+ wins and was a gamer, who cares if his ERA was high!” yet say a guy like curt schilling “Isnt even close” because of his games won, totally leaving out the rest of the argument. If people were consistent I wouldn’t give a shit, but so many of these voters are all over the place and obviously allow personal bias to come through. Bugs the hell out of me.

  15. koufaxmitzvah - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Did any writers see Jeff Bagwell take steroids?

    • paperlions - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      No, they held “the numbers” at gun point and made the numbers say that Bagwell took steroids.


  16. Kyle - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    I was thinking and writing about this last night. It really just seems like Heyman and writers who share his view are enamored with their own importance when it comes to discussing and understanding Morris. I wasn’t there, many of us weren’t there, but by golly, Jon Heyman WAS, and he’s more than willing to enlighten all of us on how special and important his exclusive insights are.

    • florida76 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      We have to respect and include the views of people who did actually see these HOF candidates in action, and include them in the total evaluation of the player. I believe Morris won more games than any other pitcher during the 80s, so that’s important. And that needs to be included with all the newer data to paint a true picture of a candidate. Of course, writers like Heyman didn’t see pitchers from an older era, so we have to understand that as well.

      It’s troubling to read some of the comments here where winning, postseason success, and intangibles seem to be treated as a kind of accident. I have to wonder how much baseball some of these stats obsessed people have ever seen in person, you simply can’t understand the game by sitting at a computer eight hours each day. Some of the wrong comments about players from the 70s and 80s on this blog make it painfully obvious the person never saw that player in action. We need to be careful about twisting numbers to promote something. Never thought I’d see the day when a pitcher with a mediocre record would win the Cy Young, and that’s wrong.

      Thankfully, football isn’t deluged with numbers the way baseball has become. Had a good laugh recently, when some stats guy tried to imply QB-Vinny Testaverde was a possible HOF candidate in the future. Of course, that will never happen, because observers who understand the game know Testavede’s career was a poor man’s version of Jim Kaat. Seeing Testaverde in action is a part of that knowledge.

      • catsmeat - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        where winning, postseason success, and intangibles seem to be treated as a kind of accident.

        I remember Oliver Perez pitching one hell of a Game 7 for the Mets back in 2006. Pretty sure that was an accident.

      • phillyphreak - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        “I have to wonder how much baseball some of these stats obsessed people have ever seen in person, you simply can’t understand the game by sitting at a computer eight hours each day.”

        Need to get more material.

        “Never thought I’d see the day when a pitcher with a mediocre record would win the Cy Young, and that’s wrong.”

        – Please justify.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        We have to respect and include the views of people who did actually see these HOF candidates in action, and include them in the total evaluation of the player.

        No we don’t. Just because you saw a person in action doesn’t give you any more insight than another. In some cases it’s probably worse due to confirmation bias.

        I believe Morris won more games than any other pitcher during the 80s, so that’s important.

        Why is that important? (hint it’s not)

        It’s troubling to read some of the comments here where winning, postseason success, and intangibles seem to be treated as a kind of accident.

        No one treats postseason success as an accident. What they do is try to determine how much control a person had in said achievement. For instance, we all know about Morris’s G7 performance, truly phenomenal. But why do people think he’s this great postseason performer? He pitched in 7 postseason series, one he threw 13.1IP with a 4.05 ERA, another 12.1 IP with a 6.57 ERA and lastly a 10.2IP with 8.44 ERA. Those are the marks of a great performer? All told, he threw 92.1IP in the postseason with a 3.80 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and a 3.1 BB/9. Those are almost exactly the same as his career numbers (3.90 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9).

        I have to wonder how much baseball some of these stats obsessed people have ever seen in person, you simply can’t understand the game by sitting at a computer eight hours each day.

        Personally I’ve probably watched just under 10,000 give or take. Is that enough? Although I’m a bit on the young side and living in NC the last 3+ years is basically Braves or naught.

        Some of the wrong comments about players from the 70s and 80s on this blog make it painfully obvious the person never saw that player in action. We need to be careful about twisting numbers to promote something. Never thought I’d see the day when a pitcher with a mediocre record would win the Cy Young, and that’s wrong.

        Just as true on the other side. People are quoting Vince Coleman’s SB numbers and getting them wrong, saying he was faster than so and so. It cuts both ways.

        Thankfully, football isn’t deluged with numbers the way baseball has become.

        Haha, wrong again.* is one great resource. Multiple times I’ve read and heard discussions regarding Game Theory, Win Expectancy* and Points Scoring Matrixes**. You may not have heard them specifically, but you’ll know it when you hear it like:

        * is in many ways more advanced than some baseball stats, b/c things like DVOA control for opponents.
        ** – Pats/Colts game where Belicheck went for it on 4th and 2 and got stopped. That’s Win Expectancy. Probability of completing the 4th down vs losing it and Colts scoring to win
        *** – 4th and goal from the 1. Do you go for it or kick the FG. What’s the average pts in that situation? What does the average opposing team do from their own 1?

      • Paul Zummo - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:27 PM

        I have to wonder how much baseball some of these stats obsessed people have ever seen in person

        This one comment alone makes everything else you wrote irrelevant. Think about how stupid this assumption is. So you think the people that are so obsessed with baseball that they’re digesting every statistic and even devising new ones to better measure performance are people who don’t watch the game? Does that make sense on any logical level? That’s like suggesting the guys who go to Star Wars conventions and who litter various internet message boards with endless critiques of the second trilogy never watched the movies.

        Oh, and I grew up watching Jack Morris pitch. If he’s a Hall of Famer, then so are Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

      • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        “I have to wonder how much baseball some of these stats obsessed people have ever seen in person, you simply can’t understand the game by sitting at a computer eight hours each day.”

        Let’s see: Ever year I got to all the Mets/Cards games in New York, so there’s 3, I go to a couple Yankees games (my employer gets season tickets, no way in hell I’m paying for that!), head to Philly for a one or two Cards/Phils games depending on the day of the week. So, about 7 games in person. I subscribe to MLB.TV and probably watch between 40 to 50 in their entirety over the course of the season, and probably catch at least 3 or 4 innings of another 50. This has pretty much been the case since I moved to NYC back in 2006. So, I’ve probably watched about 5,000 innings of baseball in the past six years. Thanks for trying to undermine arguments by making baseless accusations though.

  17. neelymessier - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Based upon absolutely nothing, I assert that Dave Stieb was actually the better pitcher over the same time frame.

    • gogigantos - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      Based on the fact that I saw Stieb more often and pitch better, and liked him better as an underdog character from the frozen north, I agree. I loved Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby from afar too.

  18. b7p19 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Quilvio Veras should be a HOFer. He swung the bat with more total effort than anyone in the history of the game.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Clete Boyer should be in the hall. The only reason he had a .670 OPS is because he hit to the score. Why tire himself running around the bases when the Yankees were up by four runs anyway?

  19. Mark - Jan 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    You don’t even need saber stats to argue against Morris.

    His didn’t hit 300 wins.

    He didn’t hit 3000 K’s despite being a workhorse starter, throwing a lot of innings.

    He walked a shitload of batters.

    His ERA is fairly unimpressive at 3.90.

    Despite being a force in the 1991 WS, he nearly cost the Jays the 1992 World Series. 2 losses, an 8.44 ERA. Why is the 10 inning game credited so much, but those 2 huge losses ignored? And I watched those games 😦. Painful games.

    There’s nothing really great about Morris outside of the fact that he pitched for a very long time. He was never dominant in a Halladay/Lincecum kind of way. And for a guy who wasn’t dominant, his counting stats better be good. And they’re really not when you think about it.

    So regardless of whether you use saber or traditional stats, there’s really no argument in favour of Morris. Unless you’re using Truthiness in your argument. In which case, Morris FEELS like a Hall of Famer.

    • Mark - Jan 10, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      Ok 3000 K’s might be high, but the point is he really didn’t hit any of the “round” Hall of Fame numbers that we usually associate with SP’s.

  20. vikesfansteve - Jan 10, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    I don’t quite agree with the claim that Morris wasn’t that good in the post season, he does have 2 Babe Ruth awards that are given to the player with the best performance in the post season. Morris was 7-4 career in the post season. In 84 & 91 he went 2-0 in the World Series. He has 4 rings.
    He holds the record for most wins by a Twin in a single postseason, with 4 acquired in 1991.
    1981 – The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year
    1984 – Babe Ruth Award
    1991 – Babe Ruth Award
    1991 – World Series Most Valuable Player
    All Star: 1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1991
    AL Wins Leader: 1981, 1992
    AL Strikeouts Leader: 1983
    AL Shutouts Leader: 1986
    Hold the major league record for consecutive opening day starts, with 14 (1980–1993)
    Holds Tigers’ all-time record for most times leading the team in wins – 11 (1979–88, 1990).

    • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      I’ve always looked at it as though pitchers don’t win ballgames. They prevent the other team from winning. Morris was, by and large, lousy at that. He gave up too many runs, walked too many batters. He was NEVER the best pitcher ever in his time. He won a lot of awards based on popularity not any objective measure of his skill. He had a lot of wins and he had moments of brilliance, but was backed up by superb teams for the bulk of those wins and his brilliance was confined to a few games. Should we enshrine Dallas Braden based on a few moments of brilliance? Put Morris & his mustache on less talented hitting and fielding teams, like the one Lincicum’s on for example, and, while he’s not exactly Barry ‘Friggin Zito, he’s not far off. If Morris makes the HOF I won’t care. He’s got a great superficial resume that’s as good as many others in the HOF. However, he is by no means a shoe-in and certainly less deserving than others who are being held off.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 10, 2012 at 6:21 PM

        Lousy’s the wrong word. Morris was, by and large, average at that.

      • cur68 - Jan 10, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        Yes Kevin, but how am I to counteract the giddy, fanboy, cherry picked stats with an “average” argument? “Giddy, fanboy, cherry picked stats” type arguments need the antidote of overstatement. Anyhow, I saw Morris in the ’92 season and the playoffs. He was lousy. Other than that, yeah, he was average.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 10, 2012 at 8:16 PM

        I have to disagree with you there, cur. As largebill so eloquently stated at 11:06 this morning, it’s not right to disparage the careers of quality players simply because we feel they aren’t good enough to merit inclusion in the Hall. Jack Morris was a league-average innings eater. There’s a lot of value in that, and were he playing today, he’d command a good deal of money on the free agent market for his ability to do so. He just doesn’t belong in the Coop.

  21. 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    He hasn’t throw a pitch since 1994. I trust the stats to tell me what happened then, not my memory.

  22. stew48 - Jan 11, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Gotta go guys, but I want you to know you have reinforced beyond doubt the fact that baseball fans always have an opinion and are always the one who is correct. I didn’t start following baseball until 1943, but I sure wouldn’t go to war with you guys. Whew! There are so many variables that it is not possible for an objective opinion, only subjective. And, you can take that to the bank. Koufax, in my sometimes humble opinion, was the greatest of my time. However, take a close look at his stats. Interesting, to say the least.

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