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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: Jan 10, 2012
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:04 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

It wouldn't be the worse election if Jack Morris is enshrined. If he makes it, he makes it. However, I wouldn't vote for him. This guy was over-appreciated and over-rated during his career. His supporters love to point to his 233-162 record from 1979 to 1992. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) during that period was 40.4. However, over the same time period and despite including two injury plagued seasons at the end of his career, Dave Stieb’s WAR was 53.5. Morris played for teams that were playoff contenders finishing with records above .500 for all but two seasons between 1979 and 1992. Would he have been the winningest pitcher had he pitched as Stieb did for the Blue Jays who had winning percentages of .327, .414, .349 and .481 from 1979 through 1982? I don’t think so.

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Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:00 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

What's with you guys trying to promote these mediocre Tigers for the Hall of Fame? Let's elect guys who do spectacular things, and not cheapen the Hall of Fame with average guys. Now Verlander will deserve it when he's elected into the Hall of Fame! If there is no one deserving of the Hall of Fame in a particular year, then DON"T ELECT ANYONE TO IT THAT YEAR! Now Larken deserved his induction.



Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:19 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

How many times did you vote for Jim Kaat? How about Dennis Martinez? Both of these pitchers put up numbers as good or better than Jack Morris did. If you didn't vote for those guys how can one justif Jack Morris as a hall of famer? Was Jack good? Sure he was, was he a great pitcher, not so sure he would qualify as great. He never won a cy young, never had an ERA below 3, the one thing he had was the most wins of the 80s, I don't think that in itself is enough to warrant selection.



Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:12 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Larkin was a very good SS who could do just about everything you would want out of the position, but he was not worthy of a first ballot HOF vote in.
Barry was hurt for to many seasons and his numbers were not eye poping for a SS.
Jack Morris's overall numbers look alittle light for the HOF but i would want him with the ball in his hand for my team in any big game they were playing and that should help get him in..



Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:49 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

"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' career ERA by inning
1 - 4.23
2 - 3.66
3 - 3.94
4 - 4.31
5 - 3.68
6 - 4.03
7 - 3.33
8 - 4.47
9 - 2.78

I don't buy that his ERA was hurt by pitching late in games. At all. He had some troubles in the 8th inning but he had those same troubles in the 1st and the 4th. As for pitching late in his career, most Hall of Famers pitched into their late 30s or early 40s. He is not the only one who continued past his prime. He is being compared to players who have the same handicap and he comes up short.



Since: Apr 9, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:04 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

That is better than 10 a game.
Sorry. I meant 10 a season.



Since: Apr 9, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:03 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Sometimes the sexy stats don't tell the whole story.

Heyman mentions something in his article that is a little known secret in baseball. "Pitching to the score". This is a staple of Sparky Anderson that is all about winning the game...not holding the other team to as few runs as possible. Over a season it will save your bullpen.

Sparky held starters in high regard and tended to stick with them longer knowing they would give up a few runs but they would genrally stay away from the big inning. Enter Jack Morris: This is one thing he did well. A leadoff double in the 7th or 8th inning wasn't a death sentence to this guy. He wasn't afraid to give up an out for a run if it cleared the bases late in the game. Sure, it raised his ERA but it also won games and saved the reliever's arm's. From '79-'92 he averaged 228 innings and had 170 complete games. That is better than 10 a game. That is 14 seasons of saving your bullpen.

He was also one of the games best big game pitchers. In 13 Postseason starts he had 5 complete games and NEVER gave up a postseason HR. As a player, I wouldn't feel like we were out of a game with that guy on the mound. 

Morris was a "dirty work" pitcher, meaning he didn't come out after 6 innings with a 5-2 lead. He would stay in another 1-2 innings and allow your relievers to be fresh for late in the game and the season and win 5-4. 

Just another reason why the Tigers and Twins were both strong teams while he was there.

Sometimes the sexy stats don't tell the whole story.




Since: Jun 16, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:28 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

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. That's right, don't even think of Bonds or Clemens!  Piazza = first ballot!



Since: Oct 30, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:07 am
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

You take the best 8 years of Jack Morris's career. That would be the span between 1981 and 1988. In that time, he goes 140-90, with a 3.50 ERA, in a pitcher's era (115 ERA+), 2023.1 innings, 1402 Ks with 712 walks and a WHIP of 1.227. That's firmly in "good not great"...and that's the best 8 years of his career! Lopping off the early and decline phases! In that time he leads the league in innings pitched once, strikeouts once, walks once, and wild pitches four times (interestingly enough). So he didn't even dominate one season, or one category, in that time - not even the "innings pitched" one he is so vaunted for. And in that stretch, Morris only finishes in the top ten of pitchers in the league in WAR four times, finishing sixth, eighth, fifth, and eighth again. So even in his 8 year, 26-33 prime, he never finishes higher than fifth in the league in pitching WAR, and only finishes in the top 10 in half of his prime. And he is 141th in career WAR, safely sandwiched between the immortal Javier Vazquez on one side and Ted Breitenstein (yes, the Ted Breitenstein) on the other. I'd tell you which was in spot 140 and which was at 142, but really, at this point, does it matter?

In conclusion, Jack Morris should not be anywhere near the Hall of Fame. Not for his longevity, not for his peak, definitely not for his reputation. Say no, Jon Heyman, I have faith that you are smarter than this blog post suggests.  



Since: Sep 17, 2008
Posted on: January 9, 2012 9:15 pm
 

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

Article says numbers "shouldn't be the be all and end all...," but for the Hall that's all we have.  You can't base it on anything else.  There will always be players that have amazing spans in their careers that are Hall of Fame worthy.  Look no further than Don Mattingly from '84-'89.  That doesn't make them Hall of Famers.  For that, you have to play at that level for an entire career and end up with numbers at the top of the history of the game.  The Hall celebrates your career, not a stretch of it.  Jack Morris has none of those numbers.    


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