Minnesota Twins: Jack Morris elected to Hall of Fame but not without doubt

7 Aug 1991: Pitcher Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.
7 Aug 1991: Pitcher Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. /

Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Jack Morris is being welcomed into the Hall of Fame, but not without hot debate about his resume.

The Minnesota Twins were able to celebrate one of the teams former players and World Series heroes inclusion into the Baseball Hall of Fame last week during the Winter Meetings. St. Paul native,  Jack Morris missed out on his chance to be elected by the traditional ballot voted on by Baseball Writer’s Association of America members (received highest vote percentage of 67.7% in 2012), but was elected by the Modern Era of Baseball Committee as part of this years class.

Young Twins fans likely know Morris best from his part-time role as a part of the Twins television broadcast team. All fans have likely heard and know about Morris’ 1991 World Series performance in a historic, series-clinching game 7 even if they are not old enough to have experienced it.

That game featured 2 tremendous starts. John Smoltz went 7.1 innings allowing no runs for the Atlanta Braves. Only to be outdone by Morris’ outing of 10 innings where he allowed no runs and propelled the Twins into a 1-0 win to clinch the 1991 World Series crown. With Morris’ inclusion into the Hall of Fame the question has been asked, again and again, is that game 7 performance what is truly getting him into the hall?

That being said, it isn’t to say that Morris doesn’t have plenty of reasons to celebrate his 18-year career. Morris’ career record was 254-186 with a career ERA of 3.90. Morris was also a five-time All-Star participant (1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1991) and a three-time World-Series champion (1984,1991, and 1992) as well as World Series MVP in that 1991 Twins World Series. Morris also pitched in an era where he did something that would be unheard of into today’s brand of baseball, pitching over 200 innings in a season 11 times with a high of 293.2 innings in 1983.

As good of a career as Morris put together, there are plenty of questions on whether or not he is deserving of the Hall of Fame. Morris’ career WAR of 44.1 falls short of many other Hall of Fame members. Not to mention his 3.90 ERA will become the highest earned run average of any of the pitchers ushered into the esteemed club. As we continue to compare Morris’ resume to others inside and outside of the Hall of Fame questions continue to emerge.

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Jay Jaffe wrote about Morris’ case for the Hall of Fame last month and brought up an interesting player comparison. Former Twin, Frank Viola had a 15-year career with a higher career WAR than Morris of 47.4 and a slightly lower career ERA of 3.73. Viola also had his own similar World Series heroics in the 1987 World Series and didn’t receive much of any support for the Hall of Fame. Yet, Morris is now in the Hall of Fame.

This controversy speaks less to Jack Morris the baseball player and more to the fact that we have a Hall of Fame selection system that needs continued refinement as analytics and stats take center stage in the game of baseball and evaluation of its players. It was clear in Morris’ reaction to his long-awaited inclusion in the Hall of Fame that he is very proud of this honor. The ability to share it with teammate Alan Trammell makes it only the sweeter.

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The reality is Morris is now a member of the Hall of Fame, and he should be proud of it. At this point, he can’t control what is being said about him and what the standards should be for the Hall. That is on those with influence in the Hall of Fame selection process.

With that in mind, we say Congratulations Jack Morris HOF, carry that distinction proudly!