January 10, 2014

Pitcher Jack Morris belongs in the baseball hall of fame

Better luck next time, Jack Morris.

Morris, the longtime starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who also spent one incredible year with the Minnesota Twins, failed to gain entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week after spending 15 years on the ballot.

I was sure he was going to get in this year because he appeared to be gaining momentum among members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Needing 75 percent approval to get in, Morris won 66.7 percent of the vote in 2012 and 67.7 percent of the vote in 2013.

But for whatever reason — most likely to some his career numbers just don’t stack up when measured against the contemporary standard for statistics — he won only 61.5 percent of the vote this year. If he is going to get in, it’ll have to come via the veterans committee, now referred to as the Expansion Era Committee.

Morris was not a first-ballot hall of famer, but he certainly deserved to make it in future ballots. I’m biased, of course, because I’m a longtime fan of the Twins. In my world, he gets in based on his monumental performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, in which he pitched a 10-inning shutout against the Atlanta Braves to beat them 1-0 and to win the series 4-3.

Let’s also not forget that he finished 1991 with 18 wins, a 3.43 ERA, 10 complete games and pitched 246 innings. And he was 36.

Morris pitched 18 seasons. Here are his career stats:

Record: 254-186, a winning percentage of .577.

ERA: 3.90.

Complete games: 175. That compares to Tom Glavine with 56 complete games over 22 seasons and Greg Maddux with 109 complete games over 23 seasons. Both Glavine and Maddux — and deservedly so — were elected to the hall on their first ballot.

Innings pitched: 3,824.

Shutouts: 28; Glavine had 25.

Strikeouts: 2,478. Glavine also had fewer than 3,000 strikeouts with 2,607.

Morris also was a three-time 20-game winner and won three world series with the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays. He pitched a no-hitter in 1984.

Career earnings: $26.8 million

Some reaction to Morris not making the hall:

-Mike Ozanian, Forbes, in a story titled, “Hall of Fame Voters Who Omitted Jack Morris live in Fantasy World”

With the exclusion of Jack Morris from the Hall of Fame yesterday, the Baseball Writers Association of America proved winning now takes a back seat to statistics far less important. Among them: Morris never won a Cy Young Award, never led his league in ERA (never had a season ERA under 3.00) and his 3.90 career ERA is higher than any other pitcher in the Hall of Fame.

Aside from fantasy baseball nuts, who cares? You think Sparky Anderson isn’t rolling over in his grave today? Morris was the winningest pitcher in the 1980s and finished his career with a record of 254-186 (.577 winning percentage). I saw a ton of his games, as I did two hurlers who did get the nod for the Hall yesterday, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Let me tell you something: if I (had) to pick one of these three to win a game that my life depended on I would pick Morris in a heartbeat.

-Mike Berardino, St. Paul Pioneer Press

For the 15th and final time, Jack Morris has fallen short of baseball immortality.

-Ken Gurnick, Dodgers beat reporter, who voted only for Morris

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED (performance enhancing drug) use, I won’t vote for any of them.

-And Jack Morris, who talked to MLB.com

It’s a process. There’s no perfect system. And I’m going to be a guy that’s probably going to be the center of attention for quite some time even though I’ve had enough of it.

–Rolf Boone

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.