Saturday, January 5, 2013
Why Ex-Tiger Jack Morris Should Not Be a Hall of Famer
With the Baseball Writers Association of America preparing to vote the next class of players into Cooperstown on Jan. 9th, there are several players who are making a push for the Hall that statistically do not deserve it. There are others, that are being overlooked that are indeed worthy of enshrinement.
Ex-Tiger and Twin Jack Morris has found a new life in his pursuit of the Hall of Fame of late, but with the rise of sabermetrics, his numbers, when looked at in comparison to a similar player that was denied the Hall, could also deny Morris.
And they should.
Morris is close to reaching that magic 75 percent of the vote, but should he even be this close? No.
Yes, Morris had a fantastic Game 7 in 1991, but that does not make someone a Hall of Famer. Consistent solid numbers do, and Morris does not have that.
Morris played 18 seasons with four teams, amassing 254 wins in that time. But a deeper look into those numbers shows that he was an average pitcher, at best.
During his career, Morris posted a 3.90 ERA, that is far less than good. A pitcher with a borderline 4.00 ERA shouldn't be on the mound, let alone in Cooperstown. ERA can sometimes be misleading, so perhaps a look at Morris' WHIP would help his case? Not at all.
In fact, Morris' career 1.29 WHIP is near the high end of acceptable and bordering on demotion level for a starting pitcher. That 1.29 WHIP means that Morris allowed quite a few base-runners each time he was on the mound. A Hall of Famer should be one that keeps runners off the bases, or at least strands them, Morris' numbers show that he did neither.
Delving deeper into sabermetrics gives voters the ERA+ stat, which is a pitchers ERA adjusted to the pitchers ballpark. An average pitcher would score a 100 in the ERA+, meaning anything over 100 is below average and anything under is above average.
Morris' records show that he has a career 105 ERA+, showing that even in the cavernous confines of Tiger Stadium, where he spent 14 seasons, he was unable to post even numbers comparable to the generic average pitcher.
Maybe some voters would argue that the regular season doesn't matter as much as the post season and that Morris' playoff numbers should get him to Cooperstown. Well, they don't. They damn him almost as much as his regular season numbers.
In seven playoff series, Morris played in 13 games and turned in a 3.80 ERA, not exactly the ace performance expected of him. His WHIP, again, was inflated at 1.24 and he averaged eight hits allowed per game.
Now those are not the numbers of a Hall of Famer, and yet he is inching closer to the Hall on each ballot return. His numbers are not great, in fact they compare, unfavorably, to those of fellow-Tiger Mickey Lolich who was denied entry to Cooperstown on 15 occasions.
Lolich played 16 seasons, 13 with Detroit, and won a World Series with the Tigers in 1968. But he was denied the Hall of Fame, despite having similar, if not better, numbers to the ones that could get Morris to Cooperstown.
In his 16 seasons, Lolich turned in a sub-par ERA of 3.44, not good. But while that 3.44 ERA is bad, it is better than the one that Morris compiled. Lolich also had a 1.22 WHIP, again, not the greatest, but still better than the numbers presented to the BBWAA.
Lolich also played in the pitcher-friendly Tiger Stadium, and he too, struggled to maintain the production of the average pitcher there, posting a 104 ERA+.
Where the postseason hurts Morris' numbers, it greatly helps those for Lolich. While Morris did have more games played in the postseason, the difference between the two is vast. In two postseason series, Lolich played in five games and came out with a 1.57 ERA.
Where Morris was allowing runners to reach base and score in the postseason, Lolich was allowing less than a runner per inning in the playoffs with his 0.97 WHIP. These playoff numbers greatly favor Lolich, but his regular season numbers do drag him down a bit.
The evidence is clear, when looking at the raw statistics, Morris compares very well with Lolich, a player who did not reach Cooperstown, and he himself, should not either.
Words Above Replacement's 2013 Hall of Fame Ballot