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It’s Hall of Fame Week at Umpbump. We’ll be taking a look at the guys on the ballot and giving you our take on who does and doesn’t belong in Cooperstown. First up is Jack Morris, the winningest pitcher of the 1980s.

 

Jack Morris. He just won.

Let’s get something straight: Jack Morris isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility, he received 41.2 percent support from voters. In his second year, he got 37.1 percent. Guys who don’t get into the Hall on the first vote need to build support in subsequent years. It’s a momentum thing. And Morris doesn’t have any momentum.

Let’s get something else straight: Jack Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame. We’re talking about a guy who was one of the best pitchers — maybe the best pitcher — of his era. He was dominant, never more so than when the games mattered most.

There are compelling cases to made in opposition to Morris. But the reasons to vote for him outweigh the reasons to vote against him.

Reasons not to vote for Morris:

1. Morris had 225 win shares.

The Win Shares method, developed by Bill James in 2002, is a complex method for evaluating players which includes all aspects of performance – offense, defense and pitching. James has stated that, “Historically, 400 Win Shares means absolute enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and 300 Win Shares makes a player more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer. However, future standards may be different. Players with 300-350 Win Shares in the past have generally gone into the Hall of Fame. In the future, they more often will not”.

225 Win Shares places Morris 14th among players on this year’s HOF ballot, just behind Chuck Knoblach. Ewww.

2. Morris never won a Cy Young.

3. Morris had a career ERA of 3.90. If elected, he’d have the highest career ERA of any HOF pitcher.

Reasons why none of that matters:

1. Win Shares are a good stat. But they’re not all-important. There are HOF pitchers with fewer Win shares than Morris. Bruce Sutter had 168!

2. Morris never won a Cy Young, but he came darned close. He finished fifth or better in the Cy voting five times. He led the league in wins twice and in strikeouts and complete games once. He was a five-time all-star. And nobody won more games in the 1980s.

3. Yeah, his ERA was high. But his career ERA was inflated by a couple of rough years (1988-1990). You know what Morris did in 1991? He won 21 games and posted an ERA of 3.43. That’s HOF perseverance, baby!

A few more reasons to vote for Morris:

1. The guy was clutch. If the only game you saw Morris pitch was his game seven start in the 1991 World Series, that was enough. Morris started for the Twins three times in that series. In a post season performance for the ages, the 36-year-old hurler threw 10 innings of shutout baseball against the Braves as the Twins won the World title on a 10th inning single by Gene Larkin that scored Dan Gladden. Morris was voted the World Series MVP.

2. Morris gave the most chauvinist quote of his generation, once explaining to a female reporter that, “I don’t talk to women when I’m naked, unless they’re on top of me or I’m on top of them.” Right now Keith Hernandez is reading this and taking notes.

3. Great ‘stache.

4. Morris was a winner. I know that wins and losses are not the best way to judge a pitcher’s performance. I know it. But I can’t get past the feeling that Jack Morris better understood what it takes to win than any other pitcher of his generation. Maybe it’s because he won more games than any other pitcher in the 1980s. Maybe it’s because he was a mostly dominant postseason pitcher. Maybe it’s because he won FOUR World Series rings. But that’s always how it seemed. And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Morris’s peers respected him. That’s why he played in five all-star games. That’s why he started a record 14 opening day games. He was the man.

One more thing before you go. I think it’s safe to say Curt Schilling will be pulling for Jack Morris. Schilling is the Morris of our generation: a consistently good pitcher who never won a Cy Young and whose big-game performances have enhanced his legend. Schilling, incidentally, has 242 win shares — 17 more than Morris. But Morris has one thing Schilling doesn’t: a no-hitter.

6 Responses to “Jack is back! This time, you should vote for him.”

  1. Sarah, if the Sox get Salty for Coco, then the Rangers franchise ought to be contracted. That would be a horrible, horrible trade for Texas. They just traded Mark Teixeira, who is a bonefide all-star, for Salty. And now they’re going to turn around and deal Salty for Coco Crisp, who will never, EVER, make an all-star team?

    The only way Texas deals Salty to the Sox is if they get Ellsbury, Lester, or an equally talented young player in return.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    Well, Coley, the Red Sox aren’t shopping Ellsbury. That’s the whole point of dumping Crisp. Plus, you’ll note that I already said above that there was no way the Rangers would accept a one-to-one trade of Crisp for Saltalamacchia. However, the Red Sox have plenty of younger prospects to offer the Rangers, including pitchers, as part of a package with Crisp. I only see them sending pitching the Rangers’ way, however, if they wanted to use Salty as a full-time player in the immediate future, which I don’t, really, given Varitek’s incumbency. I would actually think (since the Globe couldn’t tell *which* Texas catcher the inquiry was about) that you might see a trade of Crisp for Rangers’ prospect Taylor Teagarden, their 8th-ranked prospect. He’s a young catcher regarded as having great defensive ability and some offensive potential, and he could be ready just in time for Tek’s retirement.

  3. Coco for a prospect like Teagarden makes much more sense.

  4. Jojo Fireball says:

    A couple of things I agree with, and a couple I think are absurd…

    First of all, Salty is an all star within the next two years… Mark my words. The only reason he wasn’t starting behind the plate in Atlanta is because Brian McCann didn’t get out for the first two months of the year. Coco is solid defensively and maybe exactly what Texas needs to compliment the pop they already have in their lineup, but he would have to be setup in a package deal with cash and some heavy duty young arms from Boston to pull Salty out of Texas…

    Secondly, I’m not sure what reports you’re reading on Taylor Teagarden but I am looking at 2007 stats for 110 games combined from Hi A and AA and I am seeing 27 jacks with 90 steaks… From my standpoint that’s a tab better than minor to average offensive potential. He is actually older than Salty but the reason he isn’t starting for a major league right now is because he spent three years at The University of Texas winning a national championship or two. But mark my words he’ll be a perennial all star soon as well…

    And C, Salty and Teagraden can both flat out rake… Boston would be LUCKY to have either of these guys coming in with their respective potential and losing only Coco whose spot would be filled more than adequately by Jacoby Ellsbury… If Jon Daniels is truly entertaining offers like this then Tom Hicks’ experiment of hiring a 28 year old gm has started to go South very early…

    And I really don’t even want to warrant the Laird rumors with a response but I’ll just say that Gerald Laird, in my opinion will be a bench coach roughly about the same time that Tek will be…

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Jojo, no one is saying “only Coco” for Saltalamacchia. I think we all agree that Coco would have to go with prospects and probably cash considerations as well.

    As for Teagarden, he’s also spent signif time coming back from Tommy John surgery according to BP’s report on him. Yes, he’s a great prospect, but he has yet to break Triple A and he’s not quite the stud Salty is. I don’t think swapping a AA catcher for a major league, starting centerfielder with Gold Glove defensive ability sounds like too lopsided a deal. The point is, we have an extra centerfielder. They have an extra catcher. They need a centerfielder. We could use a good young catcher. Of course, this is probably all speculation anyway and Theo will trade Coco for, like, Wily Mo Gagne.

  6. The Braves’ staff has offered up some heroic starts over the years, but Morris’ game 7 gem is the finest single game performance by a pitcher in the postseason that I have ever witnessed.

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