October 31, 2013

#Sabermetrics says: do NOT vote Jack Morris in the Hall

Update, Nov. 4, 2013: I've Tweeted, off of 2012's BBWAA list of voters who opened their ballots to the public, and voted for Morris, a link to this column. We'll see how much good it will do. 

Murray Chass, in responding, cites Game 7, 1991 World Series, and adds an anti-sabermetric sneer that no "number" pitched that game.

To which, to Murray and other voters who ultimately rely on that? Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the World Series. Bill Wambsganss converted an unassisted triple play. Neither one is in the HOF or ever will be.

Or, if you want a closer parallel, let's take a one-time Morris teammate. Kirk Gibson hobbled out of a dugout for his 1988 World Series Game 1 miracle, and he'll never be in the Hall, either.

First of all, just as a growing group of sabermetrically minded baseball fans beat the drums — ultimately successfully — to  get Bert Blyleven  in the Hall of Fame, we need a similar, growing group of sabermetrically minded baseball fans to keep Jack Morris out of there for two more years.

It may be a losing cause, but, it's a least a worth cause as it was to get Bert in, from where I stand.

The big sabermetric stats just don't add up. In fact, they scream "NO" at the top of their mathematical lungs.

For pitchers, my two baseline go-to stats are ERA+ and WHIP. You should have at least 110 in the former and no  more than 1.25 in the latter.

Morris is not only a near miss,  he roundly flunks with a 105 and 1.296.

Next, his value? His Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, of 39.8 would be OK if it were Wins Above Average, or WAA. But it's tnot, it's WAR. Speaking of WAA, as I'm learning to gauge that more, I think 30 is a minimum cutoff.


Hell, Morris can't even break single digits, at 9.7.

Bottom line? If it weren't for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

But, it happened and so we are. I need to keep slapping down Jack Morris (personally, too, because he really things he belongs in the Hall).

On Morris, and why he should get in the Baseball Hall of Fame, one "tout" for him has been that he was "The Pitcher of the Æ80s." But, a number of other people have noted, the ’80s really kind of sucked in terms of starters, other than Nolan Ryan, who you'd really call more of a ’70s pitcher.

Beyond that, if Black Jack really was "The Pitcher of the ’80s," why did he never win a Cy Young in the 80s? (Or in the ’70s or the ’90s, for that matter?)

That's as in he never won one! Zip, zilch, nada. He never even finished second in the voting.

Don't you think that's a bit of a concern, Morris touters, unless you're totally blind?

Another way to look at this? Ryan, in 1999, was the last "pure starter" (as opposed to the half-and-half Dennis Eckersley ) to be elected to the Hall until Blyleven got in.

The 1980s just weren't a big pitchers' decade. So, even if Morris were "The Pitcher of the ’80s," even without a Cy to prove it, that would be roughly equivalent to being elected president of Botswana or something.

Now, I'm going to raise the smackdown bar even more.

Among his contemporaries or semi-contemporaries, Brett Saberhagen, David Cone and David Wells are all more fitting candidates than Morris.

All three have much better WAR and much, much better WAA than Morris. All three beat Morris on my two baseline stats. Wells just misses the HOF hurdles on both, but is still ahead of Morris. Cone easily qualifies on ERA+ and is borderline on WHIP. Saberhagen easily qualifies on both.

Saberhagen unfortunately had a big case of the injury bug. Cone had some of that. And Wells was a fat, (sometimes) stupid, drunk somewhat better than Jack Morris guy.

But none of them is in the Hall of Fame, or likely to get there.

So, don't taint the Hall even further, in today's statistically enlightened age by voting Morris in.

Now, a little background to my Hall of Fame blogging —

I am a "small Hall" guy. In fact, I think there's plenty of people we should vote back OUT of Cooperstown. Here's some pitchers, and some batters, looking just at the modern baseball era, who need the boot. Please don't make me add Morris to that first list.

Oh, and while you're here, please vote in my poll. 

And, click the  "MLB Hall of Fame" tag for more on other candidates on this year's ballot and my thoughts.

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