Jack Morris: It Is Time To Elect This Winner Into The Baseball Hall Of Fame!
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Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
The debate for whether or not Jack Morris belongs in the Baseball Hall Of Fame has heated up to an ALL-Time high with the big vote going down tomorrow. 575 members of BBWAA fraternity will decide whether or not the big man from Minnesota will enter one of the hardest Hall Of Fame’s to enter in pro sports (if not the hardest). Morris will need a 75% (432 Minimum Votes) of them to write down his name on their ballot for enshrinement into Cooperstown. Last year, Morris received 66.7 % of the writers votes in his 13th year of eligibility. He will have his name on a 14th ballot this year. He has been trending up in recent years, so if he can improve with the same amount of 2011-2012 jump of (+13.2%), then he will make it in. If he fails to reach the Hall this year, 2014 would be his last year of eligibility for the BBWAA Vote. He could still make it via the Veterans Committee after that.
Jack Morris was a winner, a true throwback pitcher who came after hitters with reckless abandon. He pitched based on what the score was – and had no personal regard for his own personal statistics. It is this very reason why the debate has hit epic proportions on social media hubs, amongst bloggers, former players, analysts, broadcaster and statisticians. I intend to prove the case for the guy in a manner that will have some similarities to other pieces you may have read, yet promote a big look into the numbers that I have been bouncing around in my head for months. I even have had a #JackMorrisAwarenessWeek on Twitter and have been having feuds with people on the other side who don’t think he belongs in Cooperstown- while I have been Retweeted by his biggest supporters. Let the battle lines be drawn!
AL East Was A Monster To Pitch In:
Jack Morris played in the powerhouse AL East for his 15 out of his 16 Years full years as a Starting Pitcher. These teams featured the biggest run producers in the Major Leagues during this period. I will show you this fact so maybe you will change your mind about his 3.90 ERA being the highest ever for a pitcher – should he be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Most of these years, the AL East dominated the American League (plus the Majors) for high scoring teams. There is no doubt in my mind that this took a huge toll on Morris and his Career ERA. The American League West was no slouch for offense either, filling out most of the other top spots in the MLB for Runs Scored – that their AL East partners didn’t take in comparison to the National League. The American League itself was a tough place to pitch. There is a big reason why not many AL Pitchers put up huge win totals. Morris was the exception. Before the salaries escalated at the turn of the 90′s, all teams had an equal chance to compete. The Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics and the Twins all were the best AL West Teams. Kansas City now hasn’t made the playoffs since 1986. The Twins had an abysmal decade right after their 1991 World Series Win – and particularly the first years after Puckett retired. In today;s game, the National League teams have closed the gap offensively on their AL counterparts.
Other than Roger Clemens, what other Hall of Fame worthy Starting Pitchers have pitched the majority of their Career in the vaunted AL East during his era? Below listed is the 15 years he played in the AL East. I left the 1991 season out – in which he played for the Minnesota Twins, who were in the AL West. Only 2 out 15 years did the AL West feature 3 of the top 5 offensive teams in the terms of Runs Scored. 9 times out of 15 years, the AL East featured 4 of the top 5 offenses for Runs Scored in the American League. 5 times out of the 15 years the AL East had the top 3 Run Scoring teams. 2 times they had the top 4 teams and two teams they had the top 5 clubs. In 1983, 6 of the top 7 Runs Scoring teams came from the AL East.
|AL East Team Rank Runs Scored|| 14 teams
|Versus the whole AL||1979||1980||1981||1982||1983|
|Toronto Blue Jays||13||12||14||12||3|
|New York Yankees||1||2||11||8||5|
|Boston Red Sox||3||6||1||6||7|
|4 top 5||4 top 5||3 top 5||2 top 5||6 top 7|
|AL East Rank (Runs Scored) VS AL||1984||1985||1986||1987||1988|
|Toronto Blue Jays||5||4||2||3||4|
|New York Yankees||4||1||4||7||3|
|Boston Red Sox||2||3||5||4||1|
|top 5||top 4||top 5||top 4||3 top 4|
|Jack Morris was with the Minnesota Twins in 1991 ERA 3.43|
|Jack Morris was with TOR in 1992 and 1993 and CLE in 1994|
|AL East Rank (Runs Scored) vs AL||1989||1990||1992||1993||1994|
|Toronto Blue Jays||3||1||2||2||10|
|New York Yankees||7||14||7||4||2|
|Boston Red Sox||1||7||13||12||11|
|3 top 5||4 top 5||3 top 5||4 top 5||top 3|
Jack Morris pitched to whatever the game dictated. Often given great run support by his Tigers, he would challenge hitters by coming after them. Sometimes that would result in giving some runs back, but the guy made the clubs earn their offense. His 175 Complete Games in 527 Career Starts represents a 33.21 % Percentage of games he started, he would complete. As time goes by for pitchers, the bullpens are being used earlier in the game. When Morris pitched, the wins were worth more because he was completing most of the games he won. Nowadays you have pitchers winning Cy Young Awards with 13 Wins because guys rarely stay in the game to complete their own starts. That is a reason why CY Young Voters have completely obliterated the Win column for a pitcher. Guess what, if a guy throws an entire 8 or 9 IP for a CG, it is his arm that the game is won or lost on!
The AL East always seemed to have 5 teams with winning records out the 7 teams – while the AL West featured the California Angels, the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, who all had pretty bad decades. Only the Kansas City Royals, Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox and the Twins played any decently in the Division. The Twins turnaround came in the Mid 80′s – after their 1st World Series Title in 1987. The stockpile of talent was all in the AL East. Another reason why Morris stood out amongst his peers in pitching.
To average 7.11 IP for every start that Morris made, represents that he was out there determining the outcome for his team either way. The fact that Starting Pitcher is now pulled earlier and more often than any other time in MLB History has helped the Stat Geeks totally discount Wins as an important Statistic. I get this, I really do….This was not Jack Morris’s game and… Yes we all know that Jack Morris played for exceptional offenses. He also had a stellar defense behind him – so he went after hitters at all times of the game and served up a lot of HRs.
The aforementioned 15 years of AL Stats proves that. However that shouldn’t penalize the man. How are we to know that the guy would not have pitched different if he were not staked to such great run support? We can never fully quantify this notion – so again, how can people hold his ERA against him? He faced the Yankees, the Red Sox, plus a mixture of the either the Milwaukee Brewers/Blue Jays – both of whom had great offenses in the 1979-1984, 1985-1990 Years respectively. Even the Baltimore Orioles had one of the better teams through the 80′s. It was a collection of great run producing teams that fattened up his ERA.
The man also never got to play Inter-league like some of the newer pitchers do. This does help the American League Pitchers for almost 10% of the yearly starts and will effect the ERA in their favor. Having the pitcher hit always helps a pitchers ERA. This goes the same for any pitcher that threw in the American League before the Designated Hitter first was implemented in during the 1973 Season. This also costs an American League Pitcher 2-3 Runs per Season. If you knocked 50 Runs off of Morris’s Career ER – it would make his ERA would be around 3.78.
The name of the game is to win. When I played competitive baseball, that was all I tried to do. Morris wasn’t worried about his having a poor Career ERA, so he went about his business like a professional. He may have been lucky to he on great team, but he won the games. In his 251Wins as a starter, he lugged 2000 Innings or about 8 Innings for every performance. This is exceptional. Added to how great the man is in the clutch. he carried a Career ERA of 2.78 in the 9th inning – spanning 165.1 IP. This represents the best ERA for any inning for the guy. Much like that incredible 1-0 (1o IP) Shutout Win in Game #7 of the 1991 World Series!
Morris Accomplishments/Record Vs Teams And Best Months:
As the dawn of the new pitchers comes in, pitchers are protected from throwing innings to try and preserve the arm for future years. Like the Stephen Strasburg fiasco last year in 2012. Jack Morris pitched over 235 IP in 11 of his 16 full seasons. From Ages 35-37, he threw 737 Innings. That is being durable. His Career best was 293.2 IP in 1983. Morris only suffered 2 losing seasons out of 16 as a Full-Time Starter. He has winning records versus 13 out of the 14 American League teams, with only the Milwaukee Brewers holding an edge against him with a 21-18 Record. Morris even held a 17-12 Won-Loss Record vs the Yankees (.586) – and a 19-16 Record versus the Boston Red Sox (.544). His favorite team was the Cleveland Indians, he went 32-12 (.727) – with a 3.39 ERA versus those guys. Morris holds a winning record in 16 out of the 20 MLB Parks he pitched in. Morris was best in the Metrodome in Minnesota, where he went 23-5 (.821) with a 2.83 ERA.
As the months became tougher, Morris heated up. In games started after May.31st, the man went 179-118 (.603) and yielded a 3.60 ERA in the 2nd Half (Post ALL-Star). He was 50-25 in June (.667), 35-30 in July (.538), 47-26 in August (.644) and 47-37 (.560) in Sept/Oct. September was his best month (plus a few days October here or there) of his career at a 3.27 ERA.
Morris was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA for his Career in the Post Season, however that only speaks of half of the story. Here is what I have been fighting with everyone about on Social Media. I was astounded how anyone can say that Jack Morris was not a great playoff performer. Yes he had a horrific 1992 Post Season with the Toronto Blue Jays, however his 1984 World Series run for the Tigers featured a 3-0 Record (2-0 in WS) with a 1.80 ERA.
In 1991, he was 4-0 for the Twins for the ALCS and World Series combined with around a 2.23 ERA. Included in that is one of the best pitching performances in World Series history, when Morris threw 10 Shutout Innings in a Game #7 Championship win versus the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in the game and 4-3 in the series. For the series, Jack Morris was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 23.0 IP in earning the World Series MVP for his efforts. for his first 5 starts of his World Series Career, Morris was 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA in 41.0 IP. The guy averaged 8.1 IP for his 5 starts, now that is ridiculous! After the 1991 Playoffs, Morris was a combined 7-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his Post Season Career. Yes he was 0-3 with a 7.43 ERA in the 1992 Post Season, but this shouldn’t diminish the mans distinguished Playoff Career. Father Time finally did a number on him at the age of 37. He was never the same pitcher after the 1992 Playoffs.
I will take a guy who won 2 World Series by putting a team on his back any day. The man also had an American League leading 21 wins for the Blue Jays in the 1992 Season, he also just happened to be that Franchises first 20 game winner. Not even his arch-nemesis Dave Stieb could claim that fact. Oh yeah, Morris did this at the age of 36 Years Old. His playoff teams also fashioned a 6-1 Series Record vs their opponents in playoff rounds he pitched in.
Other Modern Pitchers That Are Not In The Hall – Above Morris For Wins:
There are only a handful of players that played in the modern era to have more wins than Jack Morris – that are not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Tommy John and Jim Kaat are ahead of Jack Morris, but both of those guys pitched several seasons more than Morris, plus both had a lower Winning Percentage. John also had 10 losing seasons out of 26 campaigns. Jamie Moyer was only 34-54 prior to having one of the best career renaissances ever by going 235-155 (to end up 269-209)) after the age of 30, however you can’t ignore his early career. I love Jamie Moyer and have said he may be the most underrated pitcher in history, but he will fall short of the BBHOF. All of the 300 Winners should be a lock for the Hall Of Fame except for Roger Clemens (if the BBWAA uses his alleged PED use against him). I am talking about Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. They will take their spot in Cooperstown shortly.
Current Pitchers Comparable Playing Majority Of Their Career AL EAST:
Mike Mussina is the only ever Modern ERA pitcher to have more wins than Jack Morris, and while Mussina will have an interesting case to present the Hall of Fame with a 270-153 Record (.638) Win Percentage starting next year, like Morris, he pitched in a tough AL East, carrying a Lifetime 3.68 ERA. Andy Pettitte has a 245-142 (.633) Career Record heading into 2013, with a 3.86 ERA. Considering the BBWAA will probably hold his admitted Steroid use against him, his case would have been comparable to Jack Morris, at least in the terms of Wins. He also played for a Yankees team that has averaged 94 wins a year since 1995 for the majority of his career. Had Mussina stuck around for 300 wins by pitching 2-3 more years, his ERA would have surely risen to what Jack Morris’s mark was. Andy Petttitte carries a Career ERA of 3.95 in the AL. No one will ever convince me that he wouldn’t be a shoe in for the BBHOF – if he had played it clean his entire playing career.
You want to go one step further, Roy Halladay was the best pitcher in the AL East during his 12 years there. At the Age of 32, he was 148-76 (.661) with a 3.43 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays. Are you telling me that if the man would have stayed in the AL East for 7-8 more years – that his ERA would not have climbed a little more. Halladay is going to be a Hall of Famer one day. It is totally good for him that he has moved to the National League – so that number geeks wouldn’t blow him up for having a Mid 3 ERA by the time he is finished. No question Halladay was the best pitcher in the American League. for the 2001-20009 seasons. At Age 32, Jack Morris was 162-105 (.607) with a 3.60 ERA. Very similar numbers to Halladay ERA wise. Jack Morris never was aided by playing in the National League. Jack Morris was never suspected of PED use in his 30′s like Clemens or Pettitte. Father time simply rode in on the guy – and yet he still went 92-81 during his last 7 seasons in the Majors. For the Record, the one year he escaped the AL East, when pitching for Minnesota in 1991, his ERA was a more respectable 3.43 ERA.
Best Comparable For A Player Already In The Hall:
The Baseball Hall Of Fame Pitcher guy I like to compare Jack Morris most to is Ferguson Jenkins. Fergie was 284-226 (.557) with a Career ERA OF 3.34. However he held an ERA of 3.56 for his time in the AL. Having the pitcher hit in the NL always favors the Pitchers ERA’s. Pitching in a 4 man rotation for his whole career was a definite advantage to putting together 6 – 20 Win Seasons in a row and 7 overall for Jenkins. Fergie had 10 – 15 Wins+ Seasons – compared to Morris and his 12 years of 15 + Win Years. They both led the league in wins 2 times in their career. They both were prone to giving up HRs. Fergie had a slightly better walk rate and Strikeout rate. Again factor a small edge for pitching in the National League for a great portion of his Career. Their 162 Game Averages are very similar. Jenkins pitched in a 4 man rotation though, so he routinely started 3-5 more games each year than Morris.
Jack Morris won the most games out of anyone in the Major Leagues during his time in the game (254 Wins) and for the decade of 1980-1989 (162 Wins). Dave Stieb was next at 140 wins for the 1980-89 years. That is 22 Wins folks. There wasn’t even anyone close to the guy in this category. Simply put, amongst his peers, Morris was respected as the premier big game pitcher in the American League and perhaps all of the MLB for the time that he played in. So I hope the BBWAA Writers take one more look at this mans achievements before they cast their votes.
His Career with each team:
Detroit Tigers 1977-1990: 198-150 (.569) 3.73 ERA
Toronto Blue Jays 1992-1993: 28-18 (.609) 4.87 ERA
Minnesota Twins 1991: 18-12 (.600) 3.43 ERA
Cleveland Indians 1994: 10-6 (.625) 5.60 ERA
The Jack Morris Accomplishment Roll:
Career Record 254 Wins (46th ALL-Time) 186 Losses, (.577 Winning Percentage) IP-3824 (49th ALL-Time) 2478 SO (32nd ALL-Time) Complete Games-175, (Right up there in the Modern era) Shutouts-28, Games Started-527 (Tied for 35th ALL-Time).
Led the League in Wins during the 1981 and 1992 Years.
3 Time 20 Game Winner.
10 Times 16 Games+ Winner.
12 Times 15 Game+ Winner. (In The Strike shortened 1981 Year he led the AL with 14 wins in 25 Games Started – Otherwise this would have been his 13th time with 15+ Wins.
Won the most Games in the 1980′s (162).
Even as a Starting Pitcher, he finished in top 21 AL MVP Voting 5 times.
Led the League in Complete Games with 11 during the 1990 Year at the age of 35.
He is a 3 Time World Series Winner ( 4 if you include his share as a member of the 1993 Regular Season for the Toronto Blue Jays – even though he did not play in the Post Season.)
Led the League in Shutouts with 6 during the 1986 Season.
Led the League in Games Started in 1990 and 1991 at the ages and 35 and 36 respectively.
His Playoff Teams went a combined 6-1 for Post Season Series he played in.
7 Top 9 AL Cy Young Finishes.
5 ALL-Star Appearances.
His Best ERA for an inning was the 9th Inning – 2.78 in 165.1 IP.
His best Month for ERA was Sept/Oct where he featured a 3.27 ERA in 752.2 IP.
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Chuck Booth- Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here . You can also follow my Guinness Book of World Record Successful Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 Days- click here. I am happy to be part of such an awesome Magazine-Style Baseball Website and am looking forward to talking to all of the fans of the MLB. You can reach me on Twitter here Follow @mlbreports
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Posted on April 22, 2012, in Cooperstown, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 1984 World Series, 1991 world Series MVP, AL East, alcs, ALL-Start Appearances, ALL-Time Innings Pitched Leader Pitching, ALL-Time Strikeout Leaders Pitching, ALL-Time Wins Leaders Pitching, All-Time Wins list, American league, andy pettitte, Atlanta Braves, baseball hall of fame, BBWAA, boston red sox, california angels, chicago white sox, Chuck Booth. fastest 30 ballgames, cleveland indians, cooperstown, CY Young voting, dave stieb, detroit tigers, ferguson jenkins, Greg Maddux, jack morris, jamie moyer, jim kaat, kansas city royals, metrodome, mike mussina, milwaukee brewers, minnesota twins, oakland athletics, randy johnson, roger clemens, roy halladay, seattle mariners, stephen strasburg, tom glavine, tommy john, toronto blue jays, twitter @chuckbooth3024, veterans committee, washington nationals. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.