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Entries in Jack Morris (1)

Wednesday
Jan092013

If Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer, Then So is...

If Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer, then so is David Wells.Let's be honest: You're probably sick of hearing Jack Morris Hall of Fame arguments. To his boosters, Morris was an ultra-durable gunslinger who just knew how to win. They don't need to look at his numbers. The 6-foot-3, 195 pound righty screamed "ace" with his sinister forkball and 'stache that put Tom Selleck to shame (can we all at least agree that Morris is a first-ballot Mustache Hall of Famer?) To his detractors, Morris was a good but hardly great pitcher who would have the highest career ERA (3.90) of any Hall of Fame inductee. If Morris "pitched to the score," clamping down on opposing hitters in crucial moments, it doesn't show up in the stats. His career on-base-plus-slugging percentage allowed was virtually the same in those white-knuckle moments (.695 in High Leverage spots) as it was in blowouts (.694 in Low Leverage situations).

But I'm not interested in having another Morris debate, as there has seemingly been one for every inning the former Tiger, Blue Jay, Twin and Indian tossed during his 18-year career. I'm more interested in looking at other starting pitchers who had Morris-like careers but didn't come anywhere close to Cooperstown (or don't figure to garner strong vote totals). Using Baseball Reference's Play Index Tool, I searched for pitchers who threw over 3,500 innings with an ERA+ between 100 (exactly average) and 110. For context, Morris threw a little over 3,800 innings with a 105 ERA+.

If Morris (bolded below) is a Hall of Famer, then these guys should be too:

PlayerERA+IPFromTo
Paul Derringer 108 3645 1931 1945
Jim Kaat 108 4530.1 1959 1983
Bob Friend 107 3611 1951 1966
Bobo Newsom 107 3759.1 1929 1953
Charlie Hough 106 3801.1 1970 1994
Dennis Martinez 106 3999.2 1976 1998
Frank Tanana 106 4188.1 1973 1993
Jack Morris 105 3824 1977 1994
Mickey Lolich 104 3638.1 1963 1979
Sad Sam Jones 104 3883 1914 1935
Jamie Moyer 104 4074 1986 2012

 

It remains to be seen whether Jamie Moyer gets any Cooperstown consideration, but history isn't on his side. Since 1979, players have had to receive at least five percent of the vote to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot in subsequent years. Frank Tanana didn't receive a single vote in his first year of eligibility, while Charlie Hough (0.8%) and Dennis Martinez (3.2%) also fell off the ballot right away. Mickey Lolich, one of the greatest postseason pitchers ever, peaked at 26% of the vote before tailing off, while Jim Kaat never got higher than 29.6%.

This list also leaves off guys who didn't last quite as long as Morris, but were better on a per-inning basis. For instance, David Wells (on the ballot for the first time this year) pitched 3,439 innings with a 108 ERA+. The only difference between his case and Morris' is two seasons of bad pitching -- had Wells thrown 400 more innings with an ERA that was 20 percent worse than average, he'd have the same stats as Morris. He even had a great 'stache! But alas, Baseball Think Factory's ballot tracker shows that Wells is polling at less than one percent.

Is Morris, climbing closer to Cooperstown as his 15 years of eligibility wind down (he got 66.7% of the vote during his 13th year in 2012), a Hall of Famer? That depends on whether you're a (really) Big Hall or a Small Hall person. But if Morris is enshrined, then guys like Boomer and Moyer deserve plaques as well.