Blog Entry

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:33 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:46 pm
 
One of the best things about this year's Hall of Fame result beyond the election of terrific talent and better person Barry Larkin is that ace righthander Jack Morris, author of a great decade, unbelievable game and superb career, took a substantial leap from 53 percent of the vote all the way up to 67 percent, leaving him close to the cusp of the 75 percent needed for election.

Only one player has ever reached so much as 50 percent and still never gotten into the Hall of Fame (Gil Hodges, who got as high as 63 percent), so it looks good for Morris. But his ultimate election remains no certainty, as he only has two years remaining on the ballot, and a group of huge names joining it the next two years, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling next year, and Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine the year after that.

Morris' detractors generally point to one unextraordinary number, and while it's an important number, it should not define his career. His lifetime ERA of 3.90 would be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame, and his ERA plus of 105 is barely above average. But Morris pitched deep into his games and deep into his middle age, trampling his lifetime ERA. Morris is known by teammates to have pitched to the score, which enabled him to win more games than anyone else in the '80s and 254 games overall. (The leading winners in the seven preceding decades are all in the Hall.) In seven seasons, he received Cy Young votes. So he had plenty of great years.

Morris was a bulldog who refused to leave games. He completed 175 of them, and that doesn't even count Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, in which he turned in one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history to help his hometown Twins beat the Braves 1-0 and win the Series. Morris was considered a great pitcher during his career, not someone who was defined by less meaningful games that dragged his ERA up beyond a representative number.

Numbers shouldn't be the be all and end all of Hall of Fame arguments. But here's an interesting one, courtesy of Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. Thirteen pitchers since 1901 have had at least 10 seasons with both 15 wins and 235 innings, and the other 12 are in Cooperstown. Here's the list: Warren Spahn 16, Grover Alexander and Walter Johnson 15, Gaylord Perry, Eddie Plank and Christy Mathewson 13, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver 12, Morris 11 and Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Lefty Grove 10.

Beyond that, Morris was tha ace of three World Series winners, and started Game 1 of six postseason series. He also started 14 Opening Days, joining obvious Hall of Famers Carlton, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson, Young and Seaver as the vaunted sextet to accomplish that feat. His detractors will claim he was aided by circumstance or luck. But Morris made his own luck. The guys who played with him understand his greatness, even if the back of his baseball card doesn't quite do him justice.





Comments

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:25 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

" I'm 63, and have watched Trammel, and Morris play. I guess the years that have gone by have built them (Trammel & Morris) up in your mind. What were you 5 years old when you watched them play? Let's get real. I'm a Yankee fan, but all Yankees don't belong in the Hall of Fame. Just because guys play hard, doesn't qualify them for the Hall of Fame. I would rather see Barry Bonds, and Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame than Trammel, and Morris. "  --jim96021

I've already said my piece about Jack; suffice it to say that you don't know Jack. As for Tram, I'll put it to you this way: (1) Like Jeter and Kaline and Aaron, Trammell did EVERYTHING the right way in a uniform. This can be said for remarkably few othe s, even among those who are in the HOF. (2) Everything that a shortstop could do in the field that wasn't pyrotechnical in nature, Trammell could do not only better than Ozzie, but better than Jeter. He was the most technically proficient and seamless player at the most important position on the field that I ever witnessed, bar none. His turning of the double play, at either end, was a thing of true beauty, in its own way as wonderful as watching Dave Winfield gracefully bend a knee in full charge to scoop up a low bouncer in right or Kaline playing the wall and pivoting to throw out a runner at the plate in a single motion. His game was the beauty of small things done beautifully because they were done correctly.



Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:07 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

" It's absurd to think that a pitcher who was such a competitive "bulldog" would give up a few extra runs, just because he could.  Athletes are wired to compete, no matter what the score or who they are facing, otherwise they wouldn't have made it to the top of their profession.  Pitching effectively with the lead means attacking hitters and not walking people.  Pitching to the score is just a way to justify a pitcher getting a win, even though he gave up 5 runs. Not sure why Morris supporters try to justify his high ERA.  Seems to me this argument could be made for any pitcher with decent to mediocre ERA.  Someone should start championing hitters with uninspiring career numbers, saying it's only that way because they were hitting to the score all those years. "  --PitchesToScore

You're wrong to think so, although it's understandable enough, given the ordinary run of men. What made Jack different, and quite special, is that he didn't give a rat's *ss about anything except the 'W'. If he thought the lead would hold up if he ALLOWED Sparky Anderson to sit him down, then he'd go without so much as a hesitation. Note my emphasis on 'ALLOWED' because Sparky's treatment of Jack was entirely unique for 'Captain Hook'. Sparky once explained it in an interview that may or may not have found itself into print at the time. Of all the pitchers who he ever managed, only Jack and Dan Petry were ever treated any differently than any of the others when Anderson went out to the mound with a change in mind. In everybody else's case he'd most always by pointing at the bullpen just as he crossed the chalk onto the field of play. Then, he'd approach the pitcher with his eyes averted from his face and his hand out for the ball. (He said that he did this out of respect.) However, in Peach's case, he had so much respect for him "as a man" for how he handled himself, on and off the mound, that he would not only not give the signal, but would usually stop and exchange a few words with him to see whether or not he and Dan both thought he was up to it at that point. In Jack's case, it went further. He would let him argue him out of pulling him, even angrily. He explained at the time that this was because Jack was the single most competitive player he'd ever coached, that he would bear down even harder and with even more likely effect if Sparky gave him his head, but that his body language would bend enough to let him know it if Jack himself thought he was all in.

Consider that there very well may never have been a pitcher who glared at a fielder who screwed up behind him as often or as fiercely as Jack, yet those same players never, to the best of my knowledge, seemed to take it personally. And it would have been easy enough to do, because Jack was a prickly man even at the best of times among friends, by all accounts. These guys all knew and accepted that none of it came from a negative place, in part because they saw how much he beat himself up on the mound when he scr*wed the pooch in an awkward situation.

As I said above, many was the time that Jack allowed himself to be pulled from games when his stuff was all but unhittable, when another pitcher would've maybe resented losing the chance to run up his numbers. On the other hand, Jack never uttered a peep nor gave an untoward glance when Sparky left him out there in a hopeless cause, when Jack was still leaking oil, because his pen needed rest. Too, if Jack gave up five runs in the first three innings and looked none too good, he might well leave him in and be rewarded with a no-no the rest of the way. Or, it'd maybe get back to Tigers up by three when Jack would give one back and load the bases with no outs and he'd keep him in and Jack would finish up looking like Goose Gossage.

All in all, the most remarkable ballplayer I have ever had the pleasure to watch, bar none. Many's the time when I saw him sweat like James Brown or Moses Malone when he'd gotten himself in a hole, but it was NEVER flop-sweat.




Since: Jan 9, 2012
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:52 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

It's absurd to think that a pitcher who was such a competitive "bulldog" would give up a few extra runs, just because he could.  Athletes are wired to compete, no matter what the score or who they are facing, otherwise they wouldn't have made it to the top of their profession.  Pitching effectively with the lead means attacking hitters and not walking people.  Pitching to the score is just a way to justify a pitcher getting a win, even though he gave up 5 runs. 

Not sure why Morris supporters try to justify his high ERA.  Seems to me this argument could be made for any pitcher with decent to mediocre ERA.  Someone should start championing hitters with uninspiring career numbers, saying it's only that way because they were hitting to the score all those years. 

 



Since: Feb 4, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:14 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

I simply don't get how the writers justify there willingness to vote for Bonds and the others ped users! The excuse of he was a hall of fame player before using ped's is ridiculous! Pete Rose was a hall of famer before gambling and you don't hear the writers making the same argument for him! There is no consistency with the voting! Rose probably shouldn't ever get in, same as the ped users! The writers will put these guys in like it or not without a thought of the one thing baseball has over the other sports and that is the numbers! They say they don't like the thought of being judge, jury and executioner, but isn't that what the job calls for? If they don't want that responsibility, give it to someone who does! If they want to keep it lets at least be consistent! The thing is I'm afraid they will consistenly devalue the history of the game! The writers looked the other way during the steroid era and continue to do so after the fact!



Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 8:25 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

I'm 63, and have watched Trammel, and Morris play. I guess the years that have gone by have built them (Trammel & Morris) up in your mind. What were you 5 years old when you watched them play? Let's get real. I'm a Yankee fan, but all Yankees don't belong in the Hall of Fame. Just because guys play hard, doesn't qualify them for the Hall of Fame. I would rather see Barry Bonds, and Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame than Trammel, and Morris.



Since: Dec 12, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:09 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Congratulations to Lark, it is deserved, but I don't really put much faith in any of the so called experts who vote on who gets in. They've overlooked Alan Trammel year in and year out. A shortstop that is very deserving of the hall. I read comments last week that called Tram a sub-par player at best, that was obviously from someone who never watched him play the game. For twenty years he played harder than anyone in baseball. Both Tram and Lark have similar numbers offensively (both outstanding), and Tram murders Ozzie Smith offensively (.285 to .262 career average, 185 to 28 HR's, & 1003 to 793 RBI's). Defensively the three are very similar as well, but Tram had the fewest errors of the three over his career (Fielding % for career was Tram .977, OZ .978, and Lark .975). Tram also turned over 200 more double plays in his career than Lark. I'm a fan of all three. I think they all deserve to be in the hall, so why keep Trammel out. Those who didn't watch him play have no idea how good he really was, so I ask you, what credentials do you need to entire the baseball hall of fame? If your going solely on numbers, than he should be in. If that's the case then scrap the voters and get a computer to do their job, it can't do any worse. Tram won the 1984 World Series MVP, and he should have won the 1987 AL MVP (he barely lost to George Brett). So to the hall voters and all who think that Tram shouldn't be there I say this. Re-evaluate if you know anything about the game of baseball. If you're a stat person I challenge you to compare Trams stats with all the other shortstops in the hall. HE BELONGS THERE! PERIOD.     



Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:02 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Uh....This wasn't Larkins first HOF ballot....and he IS deserving. He did EVERYHTING better than Cal Ripken except hit homers, and play in all 162 games 12 consectutive years. Larkin never DH'd or even switched to an easier position than SS... He also did EVERYTHING defensively Ozzie Smith did (fielding perecentages are  only .002 difference) except do back flips between innings, and Larkin was overhwlemingly a better offensive player. Larkin's all-around career numbers place him about 6th among the 22 shortstops in the HOF.

Jack Morris, not so much. I loved Morris' determination and attitude...so did his teammates. He had a GREAT career, but I saw him as an overachiever- someone that won more than his actual performance would normally merit...and his stats reflect that- he gave up a lot of hits and runs, didn't strike out that many, and although he pitched a lot of innings, many were battling back from holes he put his team in, and was lucky to have played on teams that could score a little more when he pitched. He was probably a HOF teammate, but I'm not so sure he was a HOF player.  

Greg Maddux, on the other hand, will be an easy choice to make. No disrespect intended, but to be similarly tooled pitchers, there is a lot of difference in the numbers between those two.



Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:30 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Interesting stuff Falcons. thanks.  you just beat me to my post.  the Morris debate is fascinating.



Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:29 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Let's admit it.  We love controversy and discussion.  Borderline Hall of Famers generate discussion and no one is more borderline than Jack Morris.  I have gone back and forth in my mind and just cant decide on JM.   Pro:  sustained success for a long time,  played on WS teams, seemed to pitch better with the stakes high.  good, but not great number of Ks.    Cons:  approx 250-190 is a little light in the wins versus losses for HOF, 3.90 is high for Hall of Fame.   we've heard the arguments over and over.  can anyone offer a new fresh take to help me decide.  if you in the for camp, how do you respond to the points to against camp makes?   and vice versa?




Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Pitching to the Score

This has been studied and debunked:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/a

rticle.php?articleid=15750
"The conclusion is fairly obvious. Jack's records are clearly the result of how many runs are scored when he pitches and how many runs he allows. Thus, his (or ), along with his innings pitched, are a perfectly accurate measure of how valuable Jack has been to his teams."

I'm sorry, but what are "Less meaningful" games? Can you please identify these games? I want to know what games I should disregard when it comes to Morris' career. (Let me guess: Regular season games where Morris, as a member of a mediocre team, pitched poorly?)

Would the 1992 playoffs also be considered "Less meaningful"? Because Morris' performance in it was pretty bad. And according to the narrative, Jack Morris was a big-game pitcher. So how do these two things co-exist?

In Game 1 of the ALCS, he put his team in a 3-0 hole
In Game 2 of the ALCS, he put his team in a 5-1 hole
In Game 5 of the World Series, he put his team in a 7-2 hole

Morris had an ERA close to 9.00 in the 1992 playoffs. He was the worst starter on the Blue Jays in both the ALCS and the World Series. The Blue Jays' went 1-3 in the 1992 playoff games Morris started. The only win came when they battled back from the massive deficit in Game 2 of the ALCS, long after Morris left. The Blue Jays, frankly, won the World Series in spite of Morris, not because of him.

I also love the use of the word "ace" when describing his role on three championship teams. It implies that Morris was the best pitcher on those teams, even if that wasn't true. Morris finished behing two teammates in 1984 Cy Young voting and behind Scott Erickson in the 1991 voting. Even in 1992, Juan Guzman's ERA was nearly a run and a half lower than Morris'. Morris was very good all three of those years, but to imply that he was this clear cut "ace" and no-one else on the staff was close to him is patently false.

In fact, this whole Morris narrative is absurd. It's like none of the runs he allowed mattered because he didn't care. And now, somehow, whole games are irrelevant to the discussion because they were "meaningless"?

So apparently, the only games that matter for Morris' HOF candidacy are the games he won. And within those games, only some of the runs matter. Why don't you just tell us what games and runs we're allowed to consider when weighing Morris' candidacy?



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