Thursday, January 3, 2013

Revisiting Jack Morris

I've mentioned before that Jack Morris belongs in the "Dwight Evans" class of players -- they were excellent and very dependable ball players.  They excelled above the standards of what, with today's players, constitutes an "all star" but not somebody who should be considered a future Hall of Famer; like Torii Hunter.  And you don't want to insult the careers of the Dwight Evans and Jack Morris's of the world, but when considering their Hall of Fame candidacy... Well, you have to let the criticisms fly at that point.

For Jack Morris right now, that means his stats must be scrutinized.  To be fair, I'm not going to compare Jack Morris to a first ballot legend like Nolan Ryan.  Instead, let's look at how Jack Morris stacks up against Bert Blyleven, another borderline pitcher who spent over a decade on the HOF ballot before being inducted.  Blyleven pitched 24 seasons during the same era that Jack Morris pitched 18 seasons, which partially explains why Blyleven has 3701 career strikeouts compared to Morris's 2478 career Ks.  But Blyleven was dominant in most other areas, too.  Take a look at these stats:

Seasons with an ERA over 4.00:
Morris - 8
Blyleven - 4

Seasons with over 100 earned runs:
Morris - 8
Blyleven - 4

Seasons with an ERA under 3.00:
Morris - 0
Blyleven - 9

Taking into account the entire careers of each pitcher, including their latter years when they were old and kinda stunk, Blyleven's was more consistent.  Even given the fact that he played six more seasons than Morris, Blyleven still had less seasons with an ERA over 4.00 and earned runs above 100. 

That's what the stats of an ace, top of the rotation pitcher looks like -- and that's why Blyleven was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He deserved it.

If Blyleven was a borderline candidate, than I don't see how Jack Morris can even be considered a Hall of Famer at this point.  These stats go beyond Morris's 3.90 career ERA, which would be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall if he's inducted.  Morris was a great pitcher for almost two decades, but he wasn't an ace.  He doesn't belong in the Hall.

Update: From the (lack of) page views received by posts where the topic is Jack Morris, I can tell nobody cares.  But since this is my blog and I don't give a fuck, I'll drone on some more.  I kinda have to after what Muarry Chass wrote to defend his HOF ballot, where he only voted for Jack Morris.
I know the stats zealots don’t think Morris is a Hall of Famer because his rankings in their new-fangled ratings fall below their standards. 
I stuck to old school stats and compared Morris with a borderline candidate who made it into the Hall, and Morris just didn't make the cut.  But Chass's reasoning continues to get worse:
But they don‘t have a formula for intestinal fortitude or determination.
Johnny Damon hit a grand slam in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, helping propel the Red Sox, from 3 games down, past the Yankees and into the World Series.  That takes "intestinal fortitude", right?  Fucking first ballot HOFer right there. Last season, all 5 feet and 6 inches of Daniel Nava grinded out an at-bat against Cy Young/MVP/King of the fucking World Justin Verlander, taking fastball after fastball until dumping one 100mph offering into the opposite field for an RBI single, chasing Verlander from the game and pinning him with a loss.  Intestinal fortitude!  Hallf of Fame right there!

Or, you know, not.

Then Chass gets to the heart of his argument for Morris, that game.  That 10 inning game: "Morris willed the Minnesota Twins to win Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, refusing to leave as long as the game was scoreless..." and blah blah blah for another six paragraphs.

Yes, the game Morris pitched was legendary.  But: 1) One game doesn't make for a whole career, and 2) If critical games like this mattered more than a whole career, why didn't Chass vote for Curt Schilling?  The man who one-upped Morris by pitching 7 innings on a bleeding ankle.  When Schilling got up that morning, he couldn't walk.  He had surgery before the game just to be able to push off the mound.  Say what you want about Morris, but he was 100% healthy when he pitched his legendary game.

None of Chass's arguments make sense.  But he gets payed the big bucks and I'm just joe-schome fan, so what do I know? 

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