Hall of Fame Debate – Jack Morris
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor and I are back to debate Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame worthiness.
254 Wins (40th All-time)
2478 Strikeouts (31st All-time)
3824 Innings (49th All-time)
527 starts (35th All-time)
175 Complete Games
World Series MVP
5 All-Star Appearances
Received MVP votes in 5 seasons
Recieved Cy Young votes in 7 seasons
Top Ten Finishes
Wins – 12 Times (Led league in ‘81 & ‘92)
ERA – 5 Times
Strikeouts – 8 Times (Led league ‘83)
Innings – 9 Times (Led league in ‘83)
Starts – 11 Times (Led league in ‘90 & ‘91)
Complete Games – 10 Times (Led league in ‘90)
Shutouts – 8 Times (Led league in ‘86)
Winning Percentage – 5 Times
Hall of Fame Yardsticks
Black Ink: Pitching – 20 (89) (Average HOFer ≈ 40)
Gray Ink: Pitching – 193 (47) (Average HOFer ≈ 185)
HOF Standards: Pitching – 39.0 (73) (Average HOFer ≈ 50)
HOF Monitor: Pitching – 122.5 (64) (Likely HOFer > 100)
1991. Game 7. Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves. Jack Morris vs. John Smoltz. In perhaps the best postseason performace of the modern era, Jack Morris throws ten innings of shutout ball to deliver a World Series to Minnesota in 1-0 ballgame. That’s the stuff that legends are made of. That’s just one reason he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Jack Morris won World Series titles with three different teams (Detroit in ‘84, Minnesota in ‘91, and Toronto in ‘92) compiling a World Series record of 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in seven games. He went 6-1 in 13 career playoff starts. Morris isn’t limited to that brilliant World Series performance, those seven World Series games, or those 13 playoff games. His overall numbers speak to his worthiness as well.
Morris had more wins in the 80’s (162) than any other pitcher. Dave Steib is the next closest with 140. Every pitcher that has led a decade in Wins is in the Hall of Fame. He was a model of consistency winning at least 15 games in 12 of the 14 seasons in which he had at least 25 starts. His dominance is equaled by his durability. He made over 500 consecutive starts without missing a turn in the rotation. He also owns a no-hitter (1984 vs. the White Sox).
Gone are the days of 300 wins careers. With five-man rotations, you just don’t get enough starts to reach the plateau. That benchmark may need to be adjusted. He was an elite pitcher for a decade with a history of big games in the postseason and unmatched durability. That says Hall of Famer in my book.
Jack Morris was a tremendous big game pitcher, maybe the best of his generation. The 10-inning shutout performance against the Braves will go down in history as one of the greatest ever. He should be honored for it. He absolutely should be. Baseball historians should mention the performance when they release Top 10 games pitched lists. Fans should remember with awe the stuff that Morris brought to the table that day. It was that good. It was great.
However, that one game, and the other 12 he threw in the postseason, does not make an entire career. Yes, the 254 Wins are a nice number, but he is a pitcher who posted a career ERA of 3.90 and not once was under 3. In fact, in 8 of his seasons his ERA was over 4. Does that sound like a pitcher who deserves to be enshrined with some of the best?
Three 20 Win seasons is nice, but one of them came with a 4.04 ERA, certainly not something that is all that impressive. Not once did he win the Cy Young Award, being named the best pitcher in his league. Finishing in the Top 10 is nice, and shows that you are a very good pitcher, but to be remembered as one of the best you need to prove it, and not just in a few select moments.
Honor the great moments that Morris provided over his career, he deserves that. Honor him as a good pitcher, a very good pitcher even. Do not honor him as one of the best, because he wasn’t, and for that reason I would not vote him into the Hall of Fame.