Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Strike Against Jack Morris

James Ronald and I have had a long-standing but good-natured feud over Jack Morris and his Hall of Fame qualifications. He always argues for Morris's inclusion; I always say that Morris should have to buy a ticket like the rest of us if he wants to get into the Hall of Fame.

I know all the arguments in favor of Morris - winningest pitcher of the 80s, clutch postseason performances, mystical ability to "pitch to the score" (since disproven here). I know my arguments against Morris - 3.90 career ERA, 186 career losses, no single season with an ERA below 3.00 despite fashioning a career in a pitcher-friendly era. There are a lot of pitchers like Morris in his era; they just weren't lucky enough to play for a team that handed him the ball in Game 7 of a World Series.

The amazing Joe Posnanski is not a believer in Morris's candidacy either. (He also supports Dan Quisenberry for the Hall of Fame, but that's a crusade for another day.) Posnanski has written about this before, but takes a different tactic here by comparing Morris to another one of his contemporaries - Dennis Martinez:

He is an interesting case to me because he is the first big league player from Nicaragua, he spread out his success over a very long career and, yes, when you add it all up he has a very similar case to Jack Morris, who is gaining Hall of Fame momentum.

Morris: 254-186, 3.90 ERA, 2,478 Ks, 1,390 walks, 1.296 WHIP, 28 shutouts, 105 ERA+.
Martinez: 245-193, 3.70 ERA, 2,149 Ks, 1,165 walks, 1.266 WHIP, 30 shutouts, 106 ERA+.

Morris pitched one of the great World Series games ever.
Martinez is one of 16 players since 1900 to have thrown a perfect game.

Morris led the league in wins twice, complete games once.
Martinez led the league in wins once, complete games twice, innings pitched once, shutouts once and ERA once.

Morris won 20 games three times and was selected to five All-Star Games.
Martinez never won 20, but he had three good years shortened by strikes and he was selected to four All-Star Games. And from age 32-40, he had a 129 ERA+ — Morris only once in his career managed a single season with an ERA of 129 or better.


TW said...

Another strike against Jack.

There is no doubt that Morris was the number one starter on everyone of his teams. He was the go to guy, and succeeded in the post season.

There is no doubt that Martinez could not hold claim to any of those statements.

Martinez' career numbers are over a 22 year career. Over 22 years you should be able to get over 300 wins or at least within striking distance.

I'm not saying Morris should be in the hall of fame, but Martinez can't hold his jock.

Why don't we put Tippy Martinez in the hall while we're at it.

Jack Flynn said...

Hyperbole will get you nowhere. Martinez really can't hold Morris's jock. despite only nine fewer wins and a better career ERA and WHIP?

Morris was the ace of the staff for most of his career in Detroit, although he was no great shakes in his last two seasons there. And really, the Tigers didn't exactly stack their rotation behind him. Milt Wilcox, Dan Petry, Walt Terrell and late-career Frank Tanana isn't a whole lot of competition.

He was the #3 starter in his one season with the Twins (behind Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson). He was also the #3 starter in Toronto during their 1992 season (behind Jimmy Key and Juan Guzman). His last two seasons were flame-outs.

Dennis Martinez was not the ace in Baltimore, but he was a dominant pitcher in Montreal. He put up better numbers over a seven-season stretch in his mid- to late-30s that were better than any season in Morris's career.

As for the postseason - Morris was nothing special in 1987 (lost his only playoff start) and in 1992 (0-3 with a 7.44 ERA and a 1.696 WHIP). It's not Martinez's fault that he went 16 years between playoff appearances.

Jack Flynn said...

You know, I want to stress this sentence again: Dennis Martinez put up better numbers over a seven-season stretch in his mid- to late-30s that were better than any season in Morris's career.

Take any of the best single seasons in Jack Morris's career and look how they stack up against Martinez from 1987 to 1993. Morris's best seasons usurp Martinez's 1993 campaign, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one season better than any of Martinez's previous six campaigns.

TW said...

But you chose to initially stress his career numbers he amassed over a longer career. you can stress anything you want. If I'm putting a guy on the mound between those two its going to Morris. You can have Martinez and lose. Just like this argument.

Jack Flynn said...

Ah, I see that you're using the Falzarano Theory of Debate - I said it, so I'm right. Ignore those pesky stats, they don't support what you believe!