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Tonight in Jack Morris hyperbole

Dec 21, 2013, 8:10 PM EDT

Jack Morris Blue Jays

Over the years, staunchly traditionalist baseball writers have had to stretch further and further to make their Hall of Fame case for Jack Morris. At first, all they felt was necessary was pointing to his career 254 wins, which would tie him 13th all-time (out of 56) with Red Faber for the most wins by a Hall of Fame starter. But when that point got swatted away, they turned to the fact that Jack Morris had the most wins in the 1980’s with 162, beating out Dave Stieb’s 140. But that got swatted away just as easily, simply for its arbitrary starting and ending points.

Then the hyperbole strain started chugging. The terms “workhorse” and “ace” became adjectives for Morris. His ten-inning shutout of the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with the Twins became much louder than his seven-run bombing in 4.2 innings during Game 5 of the 1992 World Series against the same Braves, this time with the Blue Jays. From there, it’s gone out of control.

Bill Madden has the latest pie-in-the-sky superlative in the New York Daily News:

His detractors have pointed out he didn’t win any hardware and his 3.90 ERA would be the highest of any starter in the HOF. But this was a guy you had to see to appreciate. For years, Morris’ Detroit Tigers were in the AL East with the Yankees and, counting his many postseasons, I got to see him 30-40 times and never once was he not the best pitcher on the mound that day.

Never once? Over his 18-year career, Morris never finished higher than third in AL Cy Young voting. That means that, unless Madden happened to attend some odd match-ups — like Morris against Len Barker in 1983 — then it’s pretty likely Morris was the inferior pitcher in at least half of those games.

An average game score for a pitcher is 50. Morris started 527 games in his career. He posted a game score of 49 or worse in 199 of those starts. That’s 38 percent below-average starts, or about two out of every five. An additional 106 (20%) fell in the 50-59 range, average to slightly above-average. With total random selection, you were seeing a mediocre or worse Morris in three out of every five starts on average.

To put that in perspective, Barry Zito has made 419 starts over his career. He posted a game score of 49 or worse in 179 of those starts (43%). An additional 73 starts (17%) fall in the 50-59 game score range. In other words, the distribution of starts by Morris and Zito are nearly identical. Morris retired with an adjusted ERA of 105, right where Zito is at right now. But no one views Zito as a future Hall of Famer.

So not only is “never once was [Morris] not the best pitcher on the mound that day” very inaccurate, the inverse is likely true, that Morris was, more often than not, the inferior pitcher on the mound on any particular day.

  1. 18thstreet - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Jack Morris, like Steve Garvey, was over-appreciated in his own time. We didn’t realize that we weren’t looking at all all-time great. It happens.

    • mmeyer3387 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Morris won the most games and made the most starts along with winning several WS rings. Morris was the best pitcher of the 80’s decade, period as Obama would say.

      • cohnjusack - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:31 PM

        You know, I was pretty against his candidacy, but your convincing argument of “period” really changed my mind. And here I thought Dave Stieb, Nolan Ryan, Fernando Valenzuela and Bert Blyleven were all better during the 80s. But you said “period”, so I guess I have no argument.

      • cur68 - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:28 PM

        Wins have very little to do with pitching. Otherwise you’ll need to explain why Cliff Lee is a bad pitcher.

      • tfbuckfutter - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:53 PM

        Ah, the always persuasive comma-period one-two punch of effectiveness.

      • jwbiii - Dec 21, 2013 at 11:52 PM

        And Mark Grace had the most hits in the ’90s decade, period. Are you volunteering to lead that parade? If not, please explain why not.

      • voidhelix - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:26 AM

        He made starts and his team won championships? Wow, then every player on those teams should also be in the hall…..I swear, some people are just ret*rded. Oh and John Cusack`s right. He always is.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 22, 2013 at 8:56 AM

        It’s interesting to lean on the particular 10 year period of the eighties. I mean, I’m no Jim Rice fan (as a Hall of Famer), but it’s instructive to notice that his best years were from 1975 until 1986. He was really good — great, even — for 11 years. Yet there’s no ‘best of the seventies’ or ‘best of the eighties’ list that he’d qualify for.

        Jack Morris had fortunate timing, that’s all. Even the biggest Morris supporter would concede that Steve Carlton was a better pitcher than Morris, but his career was ending its excellence around 1983. Roger Clemens was better, but his career began around 1985.

        If Jack Morris was truly the best pitcher of any particular era — no matter the end points — he’d have a few Cy Young awards or near misses. He never really did. Someone else was always better than he was. In 1980 and 1982, Steve Carlton won the NL Cy Young. He finished third in 1981.

        And I’m not saying that a pitcher has to be a Steve Carlton or a Roger Clemens to get into the Hall of Fame. But if you’re going to make an argument for ‘best’ that doesn’t involve arbitrary end-points. I look at the 1984 Tigers, which was one of key teams for Morris’s career. That year, Morris finished 7th for AL Cy Young, not only behind two teammates, a starter (Petry) and a closer (Hernandez) but behind Mike Boddicker and Frank Viola and tied with Dave Steib. That seems about right to me. That’s the kind of pitcher he was, plus a couple HUGE HUGE games (balanced, by the way, with some real stinkers in the postseason that Morris supporters never seem to mention).

        I don’t get it. He was really good, but he’s roughly as good as a dozen comparable players, few of whom have a posse pushing for him. I mean, go compare Mike Mussina to Jack Morris. It’s not particularly close — Mussina was a lot better.

    • homergreenz - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:59 PM

      I think what this thread needs is a little ipso facto.

  2. brewcrewfan54 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    I don’t think Morris belongs in but god dang it I can’t wait for him to either be in or off the ballot because I’m tired of hearing about it every year.

    • ptfu - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      You’re in luck, because this is your year! It’s Morris’ 15th year on the ballot, which means he drops off if he’s not elected. This is the last time the BBWAA has to think about Jack Morris.

      Then it’s up to the Veterans Committee (or whatever they’re now called) and I don’t even want to imagine the fuss if they elect him.

    • aceshigh11 - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:28 AM

      You got that right.

      This topic has been driven into the ground so far it’s literally gone through the Earth and emerged somewhere in Asia.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 22, 2013 at 2:04 AM

        Ha! I enjoyed that one!

  3. jeffbbf - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable” – Mark Twain

    I suppose that could be applied to either side of this debate. If you think he deserves it, great. If you don’t, fine. Just stop whining about it, either way.

  4. okwhitefalcon - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    I don’t think Morris is a HOF’er but I’d love to see him get in just for reactionary purposes.

    The blogosphere’s head would spin off its collective shoulders.

  5. NatsLady - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    You talk like Barry Zito’s career is over.

  6. mmeyer3387 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Some of the points that these HOF sports writers have made are inconsistent and without logic.Morris had a Hall of Fame career, simply because Morris had the best overall performance numbers during his era.If people would just give him a fair look and compare Morris with the other good pitchers of 80’s. Clearly,they would find the pitcher that started the most games, pitched the most innings, threw a no-hitter, and had the most wins of any pitcher in the 80’s decade along with several world series ring. Morris absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. How can they justify keeping him out?

    • cohnjusack - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      1. “simply because Morris had the best overall performance numbers during his era.”

      He wasn’t. And it’s not close either. Just sticking to the 80s, Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven and Dave Stieb all had much better decades, and many others (Orel Hershiser, Frank Viola, Doc Gooden, Roger Clemens) arguably had better decades despite only playing half of the decade!

      2. “Clearly,they would find the pitcher that started the most games, pitched the most innings, threw a no-hitter, and had the most wins of any pitcher in the 80′s decade along with several world series ring.”

      …so? Joe Carter lead the league in home runs from 1984 to 1993 and won 2 rings and has a great postseason moment. Should he go to the hall as well? Or did that performance just happen to fit into an arbitrary set of dates to fit a narrative.

      Sure, he has the most wins. But of pitchers who threw at least 1000 innings in the 80s, he ranks…43rd in ERA

      3. “Morris absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. How can they justify keeping him out?”

      Well, he would be one of the worst pitchers in the hall. That’s how.

      • hep3 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:55 PM

        The whole best pitcher of the 80’s has always bothered me. If Morris best ten years were from 77 to 87, would anyone use that specious argument?

      • Chipmaker - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:45 AM

        Morris certainly was not the best pitcher of the 80s.

        He remains the “winningest” pitcher of the 80s, which is true… but somewhere ‘tween then and now, that morphed (without merit) into being the best pitcher of the 80s. Which is not very supportable, though it certainly sounds better to the ears of Morris proponents.

  7. chip56 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    I don’t really have a horse in this race but I find the argument about his 3.90 era being higher than any hall of fame player to be just silly. The next highest era belongs to Red Ruffing at 3.80 so it isn’t like we are talking about a huge jump.

    • paperlions - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      So, being only the worst isn’t bad enough for you?

      Morris pitched during a low run environment era. He was a very durable, slightly above average pitcher. There are dozens of pitchers that were just as good or slightly better than Morris that were never considered HOF pitchers, because, like Morris, they weren’t.

      • chip56 - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        My point is that in any group – even the Hall of Fame, someone has to have the lowest BA, fewest HR, fewest K’s, fewest wins and highest ERA. And those who harp on that single statistic make it sound like the gulf is huge, when in fact it’s not.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      A few points on that…
      The difference between Ruffing’s ERA and Morris’ would be the largest gap between any two Hall of Fame pitchers.
      If Ruffing had Morris’ ERA, he would have given up roughly 48 more runs.
      Ruffing pitched in a hitters’ era, Morris in a pitchers’ era.
      There are many who don’t feel Ruffing should be in the Hall either, but if he’s the threshold, Morris falls short.

      A little more fun with ERAs:
      Morris sits at #748 all time in the career ERA ranking.
      All other pitchers in the Hall with career ERAs above 3.55… Hank O’Day, Ted Lyons, Jesse Haines, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock. All played in the early decades of the 20th century. O’Day would not be in other than due to his umpiring career. The others have been cited as less than worthy members.
      The highest career ERA of a non-controversial member? Early Wynn at 3.542.

      • chip56 - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:41 PM

        Again, no dog in this fight because I don’t particularly care about this. Though I would point out that your first point is incorrect. The difference between Morris (3.90) and Ruffing (3.80) is less than the difference between Ruffing and the next highest ERA (Ted Lyons 3.67)

      • raysfan1 - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        Hank O’Day at 3.744, but I’ll concede it since there’s no way he’d ever have made the Hall as a player alone.

    • braxtonrob - Dec 23, 2013 at 5:38 AM

      It just so happens that Red Ruffing shouldn’t be in the Hall either.
      There are several players, at least 5, and up to 10, whom never should’ve been inducted.

      • chip56 - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        I don’t disagree with that statement. Having said that, I find it hilarious that Jack Morris has become such a focal point of a war between two completely self important groups – old school baseball writers and new school ones.

  8. raysfan1 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    Yes, he had the most wins in the 1980’s…and gave up the most hits, most earned runs, and most home runs of any pitcher in the 1980s. He also had the third most losses.

    Once again, he’d have the worst career ERA of anybody in the Hall of Fame who pitched in at least two games (Wade Boggs has a 3.86 ERA after appearing twice as a pitcher), and significantly worse than any enshrined full time pitcher.

    Will it truly be a travesty if he is enshrined? No, but it would be nauseating that from the great Tigers teams of the 1980s, the only player enshrined is someone who really does not belong while two players who do (Whitaker and Trammel) remain on the outside looking in.

  9. stew48 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    I liked mmeyer’s comments. Who is this writer? Has he ever talked with Tiger teammates. I am here to guarantee they think he belongs. I do recall a Max Baer, but I think he was a boxer; maybe didn’t spell his name the same.

    • jwbiii - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:28 AM

      Max Baer was a boxer. His son Max, Jr., played Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies. That’s who you’re probably trying to think of.

      • yahmule - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        Max Baer was a heavyweight champion, who was horrifically slandered by Opie Cunningham in his stupid Cinderella Man.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 22, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      It’s possible that his teammates are not an objective source of information.

  10. commish625 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    If Morris hasn’t been voted in yet, and there is more statistical analysis now than ever, how does he expect to be voted in now? His numbers haven’t changed and the new analysis makes them look even worse. Saying he isn’t a Hall of Famer doesn’t mean he didn’t have a great career. It just means it wasn’t great enough.

  11. stew48 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    FOUR World Series rings; Series MVP. One stat the nay saysers neglect is the number of K’s without a single pitcher among them. Aside from maybe a Yankee or two (or more), how many pitchers of his era have FOUR WS rings? How did his teams get to the WS? I know and agree about Tram and Whitaker, but I repeat; Have you asked Tiger teammates? When you think you already know the answer from your own wisdom, there is no chance any teammates were asked. Ditto the stat junkies.

    • supersnappy - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      If we’re giving credit to Jack Morris for the ’93 Blue Jays we should elect Turner Ward and Willie Canate to the hall of fame too.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      Dan Petry, Willie Hernandez, Lance Parrish, Trammel, Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, manager = Sparky Anderson.

      The mid-1980’s Tigers were loaded with talent with or without Morris.

      David Cone, Dave Stieb, Juan Guzman, Jimmy Key, Tom Henke, Joe Carter, Pat Borders, Roberto Alomar, Jeff Kent, Dave Winfield.

      The early 1990’s Blue Jays were loaded with talent with or without Morris.

      Morris was a very good pitcher on some really outstanding teams. That’s how he has “FOUR” WS rings.

    • Kevin S. - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      I’m sorry, but did you cite strikeouts in support of Morris? The same Jack Morris who posted a sub-6 K/9 rate over his career? That K/9 was 83rd among qualified starting pitchers from 1977 to 1994, the span of Morris’ career.

  12. gdobs227 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    10 shutout innings in game 7 earned him immediate enshrinement into the hall of fame of my heart.

  13. blynch67 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    I am a Yankee fan. I believe Lou Whittaker, Alan Trammel AND Jack Morris belong in the HOF.

    Why? Those teams were really good… damn good, even.

    As for Jack… I was always uncomfortable when he pitched against us. Yes, he did give up hits and runs, but not many players would object to having a day off when he was scheduled. And it was ‘win day’ when he was on the mound.

    Yes, he did give up runs, but he won the game more often than not. He won a lot of 4-3 games, and really, that is all that matters… He won. Who cares what his ERA was… he won the game and he was very consistent.

    Honestly, that whole 80’s Detroit team gets overlooked. I know folks will disagree with me, but those three guys should be HOFers.

    • buddaley - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      No. There has been exhaustive research done on Morris’s records in close games, in games when his team scored a lot of runs and when they did not and all the other variations on the notion that he “pitched to the score” or “found a way to win”. Not only does the record-the actual data about how he pitched in all these situations-not indicate he pitched better when the team needed him to, it actually suggests quite the contrary. It suggests that when his team did not score a lot of runs, he tended to lose.

      This is from a post by Joe Posnanski on his blog:

      “This is where the whole “pitching to the score” line of thinking began. Jack Morris may very well have pitched to the score in his mind — he might have consciously thought he was pitching differently when the score was close — but it does not show up in any quantifiable way that anyone has found. I got another statistical breakdown just today from Brilliant Reader Alan showing that Morris did not pitch to the score any more than his contemporaries (I get one of these studies every three weeks or so). Alan looked at Dave Stieb, Bob Welch, Fernando Valenzuela, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris, and found that Morris actually had the lowest percentage of games decided by one run. He found numerous other equally compelling things. No surprise. The whole pitching-to-the-score thing with Morris was a hope.”

      • mikhelb - Dec 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        “It suggests that when his team did not score a lot of runs, he tended to lose.”

        That it is part of a fallacy, using a stat to fit your opinion while avoiding to mention that basically every pitcher tends to lose when his team doesn’t score a lot of runs.

        Examples of pitchers in games where their team scored 2 or less runs:

        Jack Morris: 17 W, 109 L, 12 No Decisions;
        Nolan Ryan: 43 W, 200 L, 45 ND;
        Greg Maddux: 42 W, 141 L, 41 ND;
        Bert Blyleven: 39 W, 162 L, 30 ND;
        Steve Carlton: 46 W, 160 L, 23 ND.

        And… it would not fit the sabrmetric view of Jack Morris in which he is being reviewed, because wins/loses don’t depend solely on a pitcher.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM

        Are those numbers supposed to *help* Jack Morris’ case? Because he had A) a worse winning percentage in games with less than 3 runs support, and B) a lower percentage of starts in which his team gave him less than three runs support.

    • pastabelly - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:18 AM

      Trammell should get consideration ahead of Morris. Your post was ruined with your belief that the other two belong in the same sentence as Trammell.

      • paperlions - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        Lou Whitaker was every bit the player Trammell was, better hitter, not as defensively valuable but as good a 2B as Trammell was a SS.

  14. cohnjusack - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    New rule:

    If you argue that Jack Morris belongs in the hall, please tell me why him and not Dennis Martinez, whose career numbers were nearly identical and was better at his peak.

    • Kevin S. - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      New rule:

      Whenever you make an argument for Jack Morris, please tell me why I shouldn’t take the same argument and make it even better for Andy Pettitte.

      • dcarroll73 - Dec 22, 2013 at 1:22 AM

        Kevin S., you hit that one right on the head. If Andy doesn’t leave the Yanks to follow Clemens to Texas and he continues to play without interruption for the Yanks, then he probably wins 300, and the discussion is probably over – he is in the HoF. That is one stat that the old-timers love, and as much as I respect some of the new analysis, I have to agree that 300 wins is hard to ignore. I wish Mussina had come back to nail that down, but I still would vote him into the HoF.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 22, 2013 at 7:14 AM

        Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. Even if you assume he wouldn’t have had the injury in NY, he’s 44 wins short. He had 37 wins in Houston. You think he’d have won 81 games in three years in NY?

  15. cohnjusack - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Fun Jack Morris comparison time!

    I read a lot about how Morris should go in because he was the “best pitcher of the 80s”
    So, here are Jack’s numbers from 1980-1989 compared to 10 year spans of various other non-HOF pitchers

    16-12, 3.66 ERA, 109 ERA+, 244 IP, 163 K, 86 BB, 26 HR, 1.256 WHIP *Jack Morris (80-89)
    15-10, 3.30 ERA, 111 ERA+, 219 IP, 146 K, 71 BB, 18 HR, 1.236 WHIP *Bob Welch (82-91)
    14-13, 3.69 ERA, 112 ERA+, 233 IP, 200 K, 103BB, 22 HR, 1.316 WHIP *Mark Langston (84-93)
    15-10, 3.24 ERA, 129 ERA+, 229 IP, 140 K, 81 BB, 18 HR, 1.208 WHIP *Dave Stieb (81-90)
    18-11, 2.97 ERA, 115 ERA+, 257 IP, 149 K, 71 BB, 20 HR, 1.157 WHIP *Mike Cuellar (66-75)
    16-16, 3.30 ERA, 114 ERA+, 258 IP, 135 K, 56 BB, 20 HR, 1.234 WHIP *Bob Friend (55-64)
    17-12, 3.08 ERA, 113 ERA+, 258 IP, 169 K, 83 BB, 18 HR, 1.196 WHIP *Vida Blue (71-80)
    16-12, 3.06 ERA, 128 ERA+, 238 IP, 149 K, 84 BB, 19 HR, 1.237 WHIP *Billy Pierce (50-59)

    Alright, I’m tired of this now. A lot of non-HOF pitchers put up 10 years spans that were close to, equal to, or better than Morris in the 80s. So please, stop acting like it was the most special thing in the world.

  16. wpjohnson - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    People have been rationalizing for Morris for so many years that they are starting to believe their fiction. Morris never was and never will be a Hall of Fame pitcher. Hopefully, the voters will not believe the song and dance being presented for him and will leave him off their ballots. He was not the best pitcher of the 1980s nor did he merely pitch just well enough to win. His ERA was so high because he gave up runs. he is fortunate that his team scored a lot of runs for him. Hall of Fame? Never.

  17. cohnjusack - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    My final Jack Morris 1980s nonsense argument.

    By saying Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 80s (he wasn’t), you’re ignoring the fact that, in no individual season, was he even close to the best pitcher. Instead, Morris is getting credit for other players starting at their careers earlier, having an injury, etc.

    So, for each individual year in the 80s, where does Morris rank in WAR amongst MLB starters:
    1980: 32nd
    1981: 15th
    1982: 79th
    1983: 21st
    1984: 54th
    1985: 16th
    1986: 7th
    1987: 14th
    1988: 78th
    1989: Uhhh…he was 6-14 with 4.86 ERA in under 170 innings in an awful year for offense.

    Best pitcher of the 80s!

    (He was a good pitcher guys. Above average, but very durable = valuable. If you think that’ a HOF, more power to you. But the people arguing for his selection aren’t saying that, they’re simply vastly overvaluing him and ignoring those who were better).

  18. disgracedfury - Dec 22, 2013 at 3:46 AM

    He was the best pitcher of his era and pitched in a hitters park in the AL.Greg Maddux,Curt Schilling and Glavine would have been murdered if they played in the AL or a tougher division like the AL East.I tend to hate the NL pitchers who had it easy.

    Baseball can’t be black and white.Unlike Football and Basketball where the stadiums and fields have always been the same and the divisions aren’t so dissimilar shows baseball is an unique and numbers don’t tell you everything.

    Morris was the guy you want and besides Clemens you would take Morris in the 80’s.

    • pastabelly - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:22 AM

      Curt Schilling did pitch in the AL East with two different teams. He also was outstanding in the post season with a large sample size. Don’t argue numbers between Morris and Schilling.

    • voidhelix - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:44 AM

      Schilling pitched in Fenway with Boston, are you drunk? And Detroit`s PF was far more pitcher friendly than Boston`s.

      • mikhelb - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        Fenway is pitcher friendly to RHP, hitter friendly for LHP. Or viewed from a batters point of view: batter friendly for RHB, pitcher friendly for LHB.

        The only way a LHB has great seasons (like Ortíz or Boggs) is if they use the LF more than pulling the ball, the Green Monster adds anywhere from 0.030 AVG to 0.060 AVG, and extrabases increases from 40% to 60% in average, since well… always.

        Detroit’s old stadium was about average, always in the 98-102 in PF.

        Fenway is brutal for LHP vs RHB (typical lineup against LHP), and averaging all pitcher vs batter: is brutal for RHB vs RHP.

    • bowltr - Dec 22, 2013 at 7:40 AM

      Morris was the guy you want and besides Clemens you would take Morris in the 80′s


      My list of SP that I would take over Morris from the 80’s (off the top if my head).

      I could go on but you get the point. The only HOF’s (or should be) of this group
      Ryan, Maddux and Carlton

      • mikhelb - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        Cone only pitched 4 seasons in the 80s.

        Valenzuela only really had three good seasons, towards the mid of the 80s he was finished.

        Hershiser’s prominence really began at the end of the 80s.

        and we could go an on, but… BUT… maybe you don’t remember that era at all.

    • cohnjusack - Dec 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      Again, the AL in the 1980s was not anywhere close to the hitting environments Schilling, Maddux or Glavine had to pitch in. This is the most patently insane, furthest from the truth claim I’ve read about Jack Morris.

      …not to mention that the MLB used a balanced schedule in the 1980s, so Morris didn’t pitch against the East more than any other AL pitcher.

    • cur68 - Dec 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      You Jack Morris Truthers are mental. I SAW Jack Morris pitch, ok? He was NOT a dominant pitcher. He gave me ulcers. You never knew which Jack Morris you were going to get. Thank DOG his teams always scored a lot of runs because he gave up a lot of runs. Facts, man. They make for an inconvenient truth, sure, but facing reality is good for you.

      • mikhelb - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        Thank DOG? That’s odd… I usually say “Thank God” or “Thank god” and I tought I was a bit dumb to thank god independently if I belive or not, but to thank a DOG? that’s downright mental.

      • cur68 - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        Oh yeah. Well call your god. Right now. Go on. Try it. Now I’m gonna call Dog.

        Guess which one of us has nothing to answer our call and which one has a lapful of Border Collie?

        If I say; “Dog! Help me!” guess what? I get some help. You call your god for help. Do it now. I bet you got nothing.

        So which one of us is mental again?

      • flatsorter - Dec 23, 2013 at 3:39 AM

        Hey, you’re an atheist, we get it. If you would’ve said “he was fortunate his teams scored a lot of runs”, which would be the correct thing to say, since there really is no one or nothing to thank, we wouldn’t know. Is a discussion about Jack Morris the place to let us know? Shouldn’t you be somewhere else for that?

    • wpjohnson - Dec 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Morris over Maddux, Glavine, and Schilling? Ridiculous. This post must have been made by Morris himself.

      • mikhelb - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        Maybe you remember the Schilling towards the end of his career when his productivity jumped (reminds me of the way PED users careers jumped).

  19. doctornature - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:10 AM

    Morris…. not even once in my lifetime of watching MLB since 1958, a successful college player, and a pitcher to boot….ever made me stop and say “This guy is great, HOF talent. I saw him pitch many many times, and the best thing I could say about him was ‘workhorse’. I saw Koufax, Drysdale, Clemons, The Big Unit, Gooden, and many others in person, and Morris does not make the grade in my estimation. I have seen all the sabermetrics and they are not kind to him either.

    If the vote him in, it will be a mockery IMO. The Hall Of Mediocre War would welcome him, but there are probably 50 or more pitchers out there I would vote in before Morris.

    • cur68 - Dec 22, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      Christ, I’d vote in Tommy John ahead of Morris. And I LIKE Morris. He was an above average pitcher and is a good broadcaster. But he was NOT a HOF pitcher.

      • yahmule - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        I think John over Morris is a pretty easy call.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM


      Dude, I’m against Morris for the Hall of Fame, but he was not mediocre.

  20. voidhelix - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    I`m a Blue Jays fan and Jack Morris is an awesome guy. He really is, and he had a very successful career. But to say that a pitcher who was NEVER the best pitcher in his league, and certainly wasn`t the best of his generation, deserves induction to the HoF, is ridiculous. The fact that supposedly knowledgeable baseball journalists still stick to romanticized narratives is horrifying. The reward of a player being part of a championship team`s merit of itself, it has zero relation to an accolade based on an individuals production.

  21. Todd Boss - Dec 22, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Using the old “cy young” argument against Morris? Lets do a quick comparison:

    – Pitcher A: 22 seasons. 2 all-star teams, three times he achieved a top-5 Cy Young voting season (3rd, 3rd and a 4th place). One other time received any cy young voting whatsoever (7th). Twice got MVP votes.
    – Pitcher B: 18 seasons. 5 all-star teams (starter 3 times), five times he achieved a top-5 Cy Young voting season. Two other times he received non-top5 Cy Young votes. 5 times he received MVP votes.

    Who’s got the better career achievements?

    Pitcher A of course is Bert Blyleven, who I guarantee is argued as passionately FOR HoF enshrinement as those who argue against Morris (who is pitcher B).

    • cohnjusack - Dec 22, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      ALrighty, you really want to compare Blyleven to Morris?

      -Blyleven won 33 more gmaes
      -Blyleven posted an ERA more half a run lower
      -Blyleven pitched over 1000 more innings
      -Blyleven struck out about 1300 more batters
      -Blyleven threw 67 more complete games
      -Blyleven threw 32 more shutouts
      -Despite the 1000 more innings, he gave up fewer walks
      -Morris in the postseason? How about Blyleven who was 5-1 with a 2.37 postseason ERA….a run and a half lower than Morris’s mark!

      Is it Blyleven’s fault voters were stupid?
      So years where he wasn’t an All-Star include
      1989 – 17 wins, , 2.73 ERA
      1984- 19 wins, , 2.84 ERA
      1978 – 14 wins 3.03 ERA
      1975 – 15 wins 3.00 ERA
      1974 – 16 wins 2.74 ERA
      1972 – 17 wins, 2.73 ERA
      1971 – 16 wins, 2.81 ERA

      Another fun fact
      Jack Morris career best ERA was 3.05
      Bert Blyleven posted a lower ERA 11 times

      Blyleven was far, far better than Jack Morris.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      People point out the Cy Young issue with Morris when others start with the “everyone knew he was the best/most feared” pitcher in the game narrative. He wasn’t. He wasn’t even particularly close to it.

      On the other hand, nobody ever made that same claim/tried that same narrative with Blyleven. For one thing, his career span closely overlaps Nolan Ryan’s. The front half of his career also overlapped guys like Seaver and Carlton. The back half overlapped Clemens. He also played on some very bad teams, and many persist in crediting or blaming the pitcher for team accomplishments.

      Cohnjusack demonstrated very well that Blyleven was the superior pitcher over Morris. However, your use of Blyleven in this instance was irrelevant anyway. Few are saying Morris doesn’t belong in the HoF because he never won a Cy Young (and those that do feel that way likely would not have voted for Blyleven either)–they are saying that people who claim he was considered the best pitcher in MLB in his time are incorrect.

    • cur68 - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      See, those things are what we call “Subjective measures”. Votes and so on. What we call “objective measures” like ERA+, FIP, SO, IP etc? It’s gonna be Bert Blyleven by a margin so effin wide you’d need Morris’s bloated ERA to span it.

      • mikhelb - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        A heads up: Ks and IP are not objective by themselves, none of the absolute values can be deemed as “objective” unless you add context to create a way to compare. That’s stats 101, unless you like to use stats without really knowing statistics then yes, Ks and IP are “objective” (that’s why you’ll see K/9 in serious analysis).

      • cur68 - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        Please. I have to get a point across in a few lines. If I go to all the trouble to spell that out, no one reads it. The point is not to be “Wholly, entirely, without wiggle room correct”. The point is to communicate. Some short cutting is perfectly acceptable. This isn’t Nature magazine.

      • nbjays - Dec 23, 2013 at 7:58 AM

        “(that’s why you’ll see K/9 in serious analysis).”

        And serious analysis says Morris’ career mark of 5.8 K/9 was not HoF quality, nor were his career 8.4 H/9, 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+ or his 43.8 career WAR (average of 2.33 WAR per season).

  22. Just a Fan - Dec 22, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I spent a lot of time growing up watching Tiger games. Some in person and some on T.V. I’m not sure if he belongs in the HOF based on stats alone. All I can tell you is this…when Morris was on the mound for a game, you could see the excitement and confidence from the fans, media and his teammates. The expectation of the Tigers winning was way higher when Jack was on the mound. I imagine that the odds makers in Vegas felt the same. You could literally see the faces on opposing teams tense up when Jack was pitching. I know this all has means nothing to all of you stat heads out there, but to a fan who just loves the game for what it is and not what it should be I think intangibles make up the difference. I can name 15(or more) pitchers better then Morris in his era. But I don’t think I would trade Jack for any of them. In my opinion the HOF is too picky and should have more members. I really hate the idea of the media(writers) choosing who gets in. I believe the only real way to select the players is by the actual MLB players, coaches, owners, scouts and everyone else who was actually around these guys and witnessed their greatness first hand. And if that means they select players that us fans don’t agree with…the so be it I won’t argue with them.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 22, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      I believe the only real way to select the players is by the actual MLB players, coaches, owners, scouts and everyone else who was actually around these guys and witnessed their greatness first hand. And if that means they select players that us fans don’t agree with…the so be it I won’t argue with them..

      This is called an argument from authority, and has been shown to be no more objective than the writers voting. Rafael Palmeiro won a GG while playing 1b only 28 times one year, because coaches/managers did the voting. Adam Jones is an awful CF, yet he wins GG. Holy crap this Yankee fan has experienced a revelation having Brendan Ryan play SS, but Jeter has won GGs.

      Never mind how many times we see stuff like “If OBP is so important, why isn’t it on the scoreboard” from Jeff Francouer. Or Donovan McNabb not knowing that regular season games could end in a tie, even though he was involved in one.

      Also let’s not forget how many times the Veteran’s Committee, comprised of some former players, inducted unworthy players in the HoF.

    • joegeshel - Dec 23, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      I really like your idea of the players who played against Morris to be the voters. Only the players know if one is deserving of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

  23. metrocritical - Dec 22, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    If one were to stroll from PFT to PBT and the other NBC Sports Talk family members and end up here at HBT it would be impossible to find a more solipsistic collection of writers and posters. It’s all supposed to be an entertaining discussion of trivial pursuits but the petty bickering over imaginary numbers and arbitrary standards sucks some of the fun out of it. And while there are plausible both ways, just vote Jack in or out and be done with it already and enjoy the debate without the silly elitism.

    • cur68 - Dec 22, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      We’re here for the petty elitism. If you want your screaming racist rants, head for PFT. Mental people? PHT. Nitwits? PBT. HBT does Turbo Nerd Stat Elitism. Its a free interweb; no one’s compelling you to stay.

    • simalex - Dec 22, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      God, this is an obnoxious post.

  24. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    For years, Morris’ Detroit Tigers were in the AL East with the Yankees and, counting his many postseasons, I got to see him 30-40 times and never once was he not the best pitcher on the mound that day.

    Jack Morris career vs the Yankees: 4.30 ERA over 289 Innings with a guady 4.7 K/9 (worst), 1.384 WHIP (2nd worst), 8/7 H/9 (4th worst), 3.8 BB/9 (2nd worst). So when Madden was watching Morris against the Yankees, he was seeing Morris at almost his worst, or second worst. He was also pitching 6% worse than league average by OPS (tOPS of 106)

    • Kevin S. - Dec 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      And yet he had a 17-12 record. Just knew how to win, baby!

      • raysfan1 - Dec 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        I know how to win, too:
        Step 1) play for the better team
        Step 2) go to step 1

      • Kevin S. - Dec 22, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        Why can’t you just give Jack Morris the credit he deserves for being drafted by a juggernaut?

      • raysfan1 - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:36 PM

        Just ornery that way

    • cohnjusack - Dec 22, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      Not to mention that MLB played a balanced schedule, so Morris didn’t face the Yankees any more than any other AL Pitcher.

      Seriously sportswriters, it took me about 45 seconds to look that one up.

  25. 6kings - Dec 23, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Riddle me this stat geek…how many starters that won the CYA during his career would qualify for the HOF in your point of view. Aside from his first couple of years in the league, the CYA winners were mediocre with one great season. The “arbitrary 80’s” argument is dumb. That was the bulk his career and contained his peak years.

    Here is an idea. Put the stat book down. Watch lots of game film. Decide then.

    • paperlions - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Everyone that you call a stat geek watches more baseball than you and apparently are smarter than you. For example, the 80s endpoints are arbitrary by definition and the reason it is dumb is because it does NOT include the bulk of any other good pitchers career. All of the pitchers that were better than Morris (and the list is long) either started their career in the 70s or in the middle of the 80s. Morris wasn’t even the best pitcher in the 80s, he didn’t lead in any single category that is useful for evaluating pitcher performance.

      Here’s an idea, pick up a book once in a while and try to learn something.

      • 6kings - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        OK smart guy. So your saying he was the best pitcher during the time that he pitched. Thanks for making my point….stat geek.

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