In his final attempt to make the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jack Morris fell short one final time. After receiving only 61.5% percent of the vote and falling 78 votes short, Morris will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. For the last fifteen years, Morris has been on the Hall of Fame ballot and for fifteen years, he has not received the necessary 75% vote to be inducted into the legendary Hall of Fame. He was a very viable candidate and has been highly discussed in recent years if he was worth being inducted or not.
Looking at his sabremetrics and advanced statistics alone and many would say his stats are not good enough to make it in to the Hall. You bring up his clutch postseason 10-inning shutout in game 7 of the 1991 World Series to help the Twins win their 2nd title in four seasons, and some people would argue he was more than deserving to be inducted in to the Hall. Toss in that he was the winningest pitcher in the 1980s and more people would argue he was deserving of having a plaque in Cooperstown. Whether you are for or against Morris being in the Hall of Fame, you cannot deny that he was one pitcher who gave it his all on the mound every fifth day and would, for a lack of a better Twins’ cliché phrase, “battle his tail off” for his ball club.
Oct 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers former pitcher Jack Morris throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to game five of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
In his illustrious 18 year career, Jack Morris complied a 254-186 record with a 3.90 ERA. His ERA was one arguing point that many people deemed elevated and too high for anyone Hall of Fame worthy. Granted, it is a little higher than what is “Hall of Fame” type numbers, his last two seasons did not help by any means. After he went 21-6 with a 4.04 ERA in 1992, he followed it up with ERAs of 6.19 and 5.60 and WHIPs of 1.66 and 1.63. Both 1993 and 1994 were outliers for his career averages up to that point and ultimately inflated his stats in a negative way. However, this does not take away from his reluctance to battle on the mound and eat up innings for his team.
The 1991 Game 7 start for Morris is the epitome of what Jack Morris could bring to the table on a given day. Alluded to above, pitching 10 innings in 0-0 game going into the bottom of the 10th in a do or die game is about as clutch as anyone can pitch, especially the World Series. And that was not the only World Series he was apart of during his career. In 7 career World Series starts, he holds a 4-2 record with an ERA of 2.96 and a WHIP of 1.20. On paper, his stats in the biggest games of one’s career are pretty amazing. In 1984, he pitched the Tigers to a World Series title as well as the Twins in 1991. His last World Series appearances came with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992, where Morris struggled and went 0-2 with an ERA of 8.44. This Series has been one area where critics point out that he was not as clutch of a pitcher as everyone seems to remember, as he simply imploded and struggled in the post season. Then again, he was 37 years old and on the back end of his career that was full of 200+ innings being pitched, year after year.
One part of Morris’s pitching career where I was astonished to see was the amount of wild pitches he had thrown over his career. His total of 206 is 13th all-time for most WP in a career and six times in his career he led the league in WP in a season. While control and walks do not factor in if someone is deserving or not, his wildness was one area that I had never heard a discussion about in prior talks. On the reverse of that, his defense was something he excelled in and ranks 3rd all time in putouts by a pitcher with 387. Neither of these stats matter as much as WAR, ERA, WHIP, Wins, Losses, and so forth when inducting a pitcher into the Hall, but they still matter when it comes to defining and deciding what is Hall of Fame worthy and what is simply not good enough to be elected in to the elite company in Cooperstown.
As it may be, Jack Morris only pitched one season for the Minnesota Twins, but being a St. Paul native and having a longstanding career will make you well liked for fans in Twins Territory. Pitching in a deciding game 7 in front of the home crowd in the Metrodome, going the distance and then some to throw 10 scoreless innings, and being the winner in that game to bring home the World Series will sway Twins fan to say he is more than deserving to be in the Hall. I was a young baby when Morris took the Twins the top and was never old enough to remember him pitching during his time, but hearing first hand stories from Dan Gladden on the radio along with my father describing what it was like seeing him pitch not only in the ’91 WS game, but in the 80s for the Tigers, it was obvious Morris was a well liked guy who pitched his heart out day in and day out. If we are going off of stats alone, maybe Morris is not as deserving as say another starter with slightly better stats, but he played the game the right way and is that not what matters?
If stats are all that matters, then players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemens should have been first ballot Hall of Famers and already elected in to Cooperstown. However, their connection to steroids and lack of integrity for the game are keeping them out, possibly forever. If lack of integrity for the game is what is keeping some players out, then the players with borderline stats but played the game the right way should be given a longer look; but that is not the case.
It is a tough decision to be had and in a few years, 2017 to be exact, Morris will be back on a Hall of Fame ballot, but this time he will need to be inducted in by the expansion-era committee. Until that time comes, a lot of what ifs will be discussed around whether Jack Morris is a deserving candidate for a Hall of Fame spot. What do you think, should Morris have been a Hall of Fame pitcher or is keeping him out of the Hall the right choice?