Hall of Fame Debate – Jack Morris

It’s been a little while, but with the Hall of Fame inductions set to be announced next week, Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends and I are back to debate Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame worthiness.

The Numbers
254 Wins (40th All-time)
3.90 ERA
2478 Strikeouts (31st All-time)
3824 Innings (49th All-time)
527 starts (35th All-time)
175 Complete Games
28 Shutouts

The Awards
World Series MVP
5 All-Star Appearances
Received MVP votes in 5 seasons
Recieved Cy Young votes in 7 seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Wins – 12 Times (Led league in ‘81 & ‘92)
ERA – 5 Times
Strikeouts – 8 Times (Led league ‘83)
Innings – 9 Times (Led league in ‘83)
Starts – 11 Times (Led league in ‘90 & ‘91)
Complete Games – 10 Times (Led league in ‘90)
Shutouts – 8 Times (Led league in ‘86)
Winning Percentage – 5 Times

Hall of Fame Yardsticks
Black Ink: Pitching – 20 (89) (Average HOFer ? 40)
Gray Ink: Pitching – 193 (47) (Average HOFer ? 185)
HOF Standards: Pitching – 39.0 (73) (Average HOFer ? 50)
HOF Monitor: Pitching – 122.5 (64) (Likely HOFer > 100)

Rotoprofessor’s Take
Jack Morris was a tremendous big game pitcher, maybe the best of his generation.  The 10-inning shutout performance against the Braves will go down in history as one of the greatest ever.  He should be honored for it.  He absolutely should be.  Baseball historians should mention the performance when they release Top 10 games pitched lists.  Fans should remember with awe the stuff that Morris brought to the table that day.  It was that good.  It was great.
However, that one game, and the other 12 he threw in the postseason, does not make an entire career.  Yes, the 254 Wins are a nice number, but he is a pitcher who posted a career ERA of 3.90 and not once was under 3.  In fact, in 8 of his seasons his ERA was over 4.  Does that sound like a pitcher who deserves to be enshrined with some of the best?
Three 20 Win seasons is nice, but one of them came with a 4.04 ERA, certainly not something that is all that impressive.  Not once did he win the Cy Young Award, being named the best pitcher in his league.  Finishing in the Top 10 is nice, and shows that you are a very good pitcher, but to be remembered as one of the best you need to prove it, and not just in a few select moments. 
Honor the great moments that Morris provided over his career, he deserves that.  Honor him as a good pitcher, a very good pitcher even.  Do not honor him as one of the best, because he wasn’t, and for that reason I would not vote him into the Hall of Fame.

Lester’s Take
1991.  Game 7.  Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves.  Jack Morris vs. John Smoltz.  In perhaps the best postseason performace of the modern era, Jack Morris throws ten innings of shutout ball to deliver a World Series to Minnesota in 1-0 ballgame.  That’s the stuff that legends are made of.  That’s just one reason he belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Jack Morris won World Series titles with three different teams (Detroit in ‘84, Minnesota in ‘91, and Toronto in ‘92) compiling a World Series record of 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in seven games.  He went 6-1 in 13 career playoff starts.  Morris isn’t limited to that brilliant World Series performance, those seven World Series games, or those 13 playoff games.  His overall numbers speak to his worthiness as well.

Morris had more wins in the 80’s (162) than any other pitcher.  Dave Steib is the next closest with 140.  Every pitcher that has led a decade in Wins is in the Hall of Fame.  He was a model of consistency winning at least 15 games in 12 of the 14 seasons in which he had at least 25 starts.  His dominance is equaled by his durability.  He made over 500 consecutive starts without missing a turn in the rotation.  He also owns a no-hitter (1984 vs. the White Sox).

Gone are the days of 300 wins careers.  With five-man rotations, you just don’t get enough starts to reach the plateau.  That benchmark may need to be adjusted.  He was an elite pitcher for  a decade with a history of big games in the postseason and unmatched durability.  That says Hall of Famer in my book.    

Your take:
You’ve heard our opinion, what do you think?  Does Jack Morris deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown?


  1. Man, I didn’t expect someone to actually argue FOR Morris to make the Hall! Ryan, your whole argument is based on a couple of playoff games, the fact he was lucky enough to pitch for 3 teams that won the World Series (no, Jack Morris himself did not win the WS, the teams he played for did!) and his Win total. When are we going to get past looking at Wins to evaluate a pitcher’s career?

    There’s really only 1 number you need to look at when considering Morris’ HOF candidacy: 105 ERA+. That’s right, Jack Morris’ career ERA was a whopping 5% better than league average! This guy should have dropped off the ballot the first year, receiving less than 5% of the vote!!

  2. SeattleAce says:

    Ironically, I come across this thread as they are discussing the Schilling debate for HOF worthiness. Similar pictures? Well, similar careers. Sure, Schilling was more of a K guy, but both if these pitchers were top 10 during their respective reigns in the MLB, but neither, absolutely neither, should be considered for the HOF…see Ferguson Jenkins, Vida Blue, Luis Tiant, David Cone, etc…very good pitchers, but not Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens (I know, I know), Greg Maddux.

  3. Kristen says:

    I found this page when I was researching Jack Morris for a math class. We are finding the statistics of each person that is up for Hall Of Fame, then at the end of this process we are going to vote on who we want to within the class.



  4. Kurt says:

    Jack Morris is a hall of fame pitcher. Since when did 300 wins become the measuring stick for a hall of fame pitcher. Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Sandy Kofax did not win 300 games, but their hall of fame credintials cannot be argued. Morris was probably the greatest Detroit pitcher ever (yes better than either Mclain or Lolich)and pitched during one of the Tigers best ever and most winning eras.

    • bayarea says:

      Morris ERA is 3.90 and ERA+ of 105 during very stable time period this isn’t like Schilling’s exaggerated ERA+ because of expansion. In 84 and 92 he had great run support, in 1991 with the Twins he was very good during the season and great in the playoffs, however I think he falls well short of the Hall. Just as Curt Schilling will.

  5. Steve sportsgeek says:

    Jack Morris absolutely deserves to be in the hall for the following reasons:

    1) Best all-around pitcher of the entire decade of the 1980s despite his 3.90 ERA, now that is extreme grittiness, a guy who pitched complete games when he did not have his best (or bad) stuff, left in games because of his extraordinary competitiveness lacking in today’s game.

    2)) Best pitching performance in a world series game in the modern baseball era vs. the Braves, 1-0 shutout in 1991. Was one of the all-time great big game pitchers.

    3) Helped three different teams (tigers, blue jays, twins) reach world championship greatness, anchoring the Twins’ and Tigers’ staffs.

    4) Was not an acclaimed cheater (Do I sense extreme hypocricy??) like a Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, and others. Fact is cheating as pitcher gives you much more of an advantage than cheating as a hitter because of the increased movement of the baseball. Do sportswriters, who amazingly did not notice players achieving unexplainable popeye -like muscularity in the late 1990s (or so they say), have the IQ to understand this????

    5) Unlike some HOFers, particularly Niekro, Jack Morris was an elite pitcher in the league, and almost always the best pitcher on his team. Niekro in contrast was rarely or not too often the best pitcher on his own team. That’s right I said his own team.

    6) Had over 254 wins and 175 complete games without missing a start in over 500 consecutive starts.

    7) Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson often struggled in the american league with high ERAs (albeit more so in the steroids era) and improved their ERAs by a whopping one to two runs per games when they moved over to the National League and completely dominated.

    8) Jack Morris’ best years were Cy Young Caliber even though he did not win the awards (because of the ERA factor) and did not go under 3.00 (which he obviously would have had he pithced in the national league)

    9) It would be absurd not to honor this guy, despite his boorish personality and inflated ERA, he was that good in the big picture when compared to others who have pitched in the history of the game.

    10) He chose to be gritty and extremely tough rather than cheat like many of his contemporaries i.e. Gaylord Perry and Phil Niekro for starters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For that he should be applauded and admired by our hypocritical IQ challenged sportswriters.

    • bayarea says:

      An old Bert Blyleven posted an 2.73 ERA in 1989 when he was 38 the fact that Jack didn’t have a season under 3 and his best season was 3.27 and his ERA+ is 105 shows he benefited more from run support than being a great pitcher.

    • Xerac117 says:

      Clemens struggled with a high ERAbecause fo the AL? His ERA in the AL went up when steroid use went up. Howver, playing in the same division as the Tigers and the Tigers were good for most of the 80’s Clemens posted ERA’s from 1984-94 of:

      1984 – 4.32
      1985 – 3.29
      1986 – 2.48
      1987 – 2.97
      1988 – 2.93
      1989 – 3.13
      1990 – 1.93
      1991 – 2.62
      1992 – 2.41
      1993 – 4.46
      1994 – 2.85

      That’s 7 times Clemens posted an ERA under 3.00 and once under 2.00 during the same time Morris pitched. So much for the excuse that Morris had high ERA due to the division and pitching in the AL East.

      Next time, stick to the facts and quit trying to rewrite history.

  6. Alan says:

    Kirk Gibson might have had the biggest hit in baseball during my 42 years. Let’s put him in the HOF! Seriously, I am a Dodger fan and I don’t even buy that argument. So, a few big World Series games does not a hall of famer make. Career wise, Morris was a good pitcher. He pitched in a decade when greats like Seaver and Carlton were winding down. Greats like Clemens were beginning. Gooden and Hershiser were far better than Morris but were derailed by drugs (Gooden) / injuries (Hershiser). Morris was not the best pitcher of the 80’s and is not HOF material. Let’s keep the HOF for the greats. Oops, too late – Don Sutton is already in there.

  7. drinkwinerick@gmail.com says:

    Jack Morris was the best pitcher in MLB over a decade and people do not think he should be in the Hall of Fame. He did not spend time stroking reporters, he just competed, won, showed up every turn, won, led by example, won, dominated in the playoffs, won, did not whine, won, did not cheat, won, 500 straight starts, did I mention won?

  8. drinkwinerick@gmail.com says:

    Jack Morris was the best pitcher for a decade or a period equaling 7.1% of the history of the game and he is not considered Hall of Fame worthy?

  9. bayarea says:

    In his 18 seasons in the majors he was in the top 5 in ERA and WHIP twice, top 5 in Ks 4 times and top 5 in shutouts 4 times not exactly dominating numbers. Yes 254 wins and 175 complete games, but only 28 shutouts he was an inning eater not a HOFer.

  10. Steve sportsgeek says:

    Lets stick to the facts:

    Jack Morris was the WINNINGEST pitcher in the 1980s.

    He was known as Big Game Jack.

    Nobody had better overall statistics than Jack between 1978 and 1993, whipping Bert Blyleven over that period, and better than Ryan, Seaver, Palmer, Guidry, etc.. Probably because the hitters were extremely tough over that period, HOFers struggled!!!!!!!!

    The American League East was toughest division run-wise (take off .5 to 1.0 runs compared to the National League) so his E.R.A. is mitigated when adjusted for league.

    During his career, the experts considered Jack the BEST Pitcher of his era, 20 victories better than his next counterpart during the 80s and forty (40) more victories than his next counterpart during 1978-1993, that in not simply amazing, it’s unbelievable, check it out yourselves!

    Jack was key to three different teams winning the World Series; the Tigers, Twins, Jays.

    Jack had the greatest performance in modern era, the 1-0, 10 inning performance, game 7 World Series vs. Twins.

    Nobody was tougher on the mound than Jack Morris, who stayed in game under conditions of getting hit hard, duress and fatigue. GRITTIEST EVER.

    Jack Morris was a clean pitcher unlike Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, and Don Sutton are renowned to have been. And none of those guys were the best pitcher of their generations or even close. Niekro rarely best pitcher on his OWN TEAM.

    So Please guys, do not show your lack of intelligence by using a statistic or two in a meager attempt to REWRITE HISTORY!!

    Thanks all and have a nice day!

    Lets stick to the facts:

    Jack Morris was the WINNINGEST pitcher in the 1980s.

    He was known as Big Game Jack.

    Nobody had better overall statistics than Jack between 1978 and 1993, whipping Bert Blyleven over that period, and better than Ryan, Seaver, Palmer, Guidry, etc.. Probably because the hitters were extremely tough over that period, HOFers struggled!!!!!!!!

    The American League East was toughest division run-wise (take off .5 to 1.0 runs compared to the National League) so his E.R.A. is mitigated when adjusted for league.

    During his career, the experts considered Jack the BEST Pitcher of his era.

    Jack was key to three different teams winning the World Series; the Tigers, Twins, Jays.

    Jack had the greatest performance in modern era, the 1-0, 10 inning performance, game 7 World Series vs. Twins.

    Nobody was tougher on the mound than Jack Morris, who stayed in game under conditions of getting hit hard, duress and fatigue. GRITTIEST EVER.

    Jack Morris was a clean pitcher unlike Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, and Don Sutton are renowned to have been. And none of those guys were the best pitcher of their generations or even close. Niekro rarely best pitcher on his OWN TEAM.

    So Please guys, do not show your lack of intelligence by using a statistic or two in a meager attempt to REWRITE HISTORY!!

    Thanks all and have a nice day!

    • Xerac117 says:

      Steve, stick to the facts and quit trying to rewrite history. Being in the AL East had nothing to do with Morris having an ERA of 3.90. Back then, the NL and AL played a balanced schedule, meaning a team played every other team almost the exact same number of games. To the point, in the AL from 1979-93, a team would play a team in its own division 13 times and the teams in the other division 12 times. That also means a team would play 84 games against the other divsion and 78 games in its own division. So, if anything, pitchers in the AL West had it tougher since they had to face the AL East more often, including the then powerful Tigers, a team Morris didn’t have to face until after 1990.

      The fact is there was only one year Morris had more games against the AL East than the AL West and that was 1991. Then in 1992 and 1993 Morris was on the Blue Jays and once again didn’t have to face a powerful AL East team and had more games against the AL West.

      The fact is Morris had 321 starts against teams in the AL West for his career and 206 starts against teams in the AL East. So tell us again how the AL East inflated his ERA?

      Please, when you post, stick to the facts and quit trying to rewrite history.

      • Xerac117 says:

        Sorry, it was 274 starts vs. the AL West and 253 vs. the AL East, I posted that looking at a wrong line. Still, over half of Morris’ starts were aginst the AL West, not the AL East.

  11. Stanky says:

    It has been my experience that people who say “Let’s stick to the facts” invariably (1) selectively excludes the very facts that damage their case; and (2) mix opinions with facts. It reeks of someone who knows they are only presenting part of the truth, and fears being exposed. In a courtroom, an opposing lawyer would see right through that and tear such nonsense to shreds.

    Notice all the capitalization and exclamation marks as well. That might work well for selling used cars to unsuspecting morons, but it won’t work here.

    Show us *how* your “facts” override the damning evidence that has already been presented against Jack Morris, and you might have a case. I love the ad-hominem attack (“lack of intelligence”) at the end. Guy, there’s too much collective intelligence here to fall for your drivel. So knock it off.

  12. nasty knife says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen “geek’s” comments on multiple boards and it is the same stuff, here-are-the-facts yada yada, every other word in caps or “!!!” ‘Taint going to work here on RP. Try that board where people post pics of the dump they just took. Maybe they’ll listen.

  13. gary zwillinger says:

    I grew up with baseball numbers in my head. I was always good at math because I started out figuring out batting averages when I was 7 years old. Only kids who became baseball fans at the age of 7 know that 2 for 7 is a .286 batting average. The numbers 714 (Ruth’s home run total) 56 (Joe Dimaggio’s consecutive hitting streak), and .406 (Ted William’s average in 1941 when he went 6 for 8 in the last doubleheader against Philadelphia) stuck in my head for a lifetime.

    So now I’m an adult and the steroid era has destroyed one of the great assets of the game; the statistics. How do you justify the statement that the greatest “non-juiced” home run season since Maris’ 61 in 1961 is Luis Gonzales’ 57 in 2001 (if even that was a non-juiced year). The icon of truth and justice is Jose Canseco. Really? That’s what we’ve come to.

    And then I look back at the 80’s and see these ballplayers getting jobbed by the Hall of Fame Committee because they’ve spent the last 15 years with these outrageous numbers/statistics as the milestone, and guys like Jack Morris (and until recently, Bert Blyleven, Jim Rice and Andre Dawson) can’t live up to them. Well, I’m not one to look back on those days of yesteryear when everything was peaches and cream, but some of these 80’s guys are clear hall of famers, especially in contrast to what has gone on over the last 15 years. Well, here’s an argument for Jack Morris, one of the toughest pitchers this game will ever see. He belongs in the Hall of Fame and this is my justification.

    Gary Zwillinger



    In his first year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, Jack Morris received 101 out of a possible 515 votes cast (19.61%). In his second year, Morris received a similar number and percentage (97 votes out of 472 votes cast – 20.55%). His third year bumped that percentage to approximately 23%. Over the last few years, his numbers have risen to approximately 52.4%. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive at least 75% of the votes cast.

    The question is why would the man who: (i) won more games than any major league pitcher during the decade of the 1980’s; (ii) is generally credited with having pitched the defining 7th game of a World Series; (iii) whose 254 career wins exceeds the career win totals of Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Jim Bunning, Hal Newhouser and Bob Lemon, among others, and (iv) was called by Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, the “best of his time, especially when it counted. It never dawned on me that he wouldn’t be a first-ballot winner”; be on a course to languish among the large group of “good but not worthy” pitchers over the course of a “solid” career.

    The answer, as set forth in this presentation, is that the absence of one or two magnificent “career” years or one meteoric statistic has allowed a clearly worthy Hall of Fame career to be obscured.

    The purpose of this presentation is to set the record straight and make the case for Jack Morris’ entry into the Hall of Fame.


    The game of comparisons among pitchers from different decades is a tricky one. The use of the total number of wins as the basis for either side of an argument (e.g. Morris won 70 less games than Don Sutton but was clearly more dominant and worthy, or Morris won 89 more games than Sandy Koufax but never reached his heights) provides support for Mark Twain’s distrust for statistics. However, a pitcher’s dominance in comparison to the other pitchers of his time, during the bulk and prime of an extended career, must be a valid yardstick for analysis.

    Morris’ prime was the 14-year period from 1979-1992 (he pitched only 151 innings before 1979 and only 2 years after 1992). During that period, his 233 wins were not only the most by a major league pitcher, they were shockingly the most by 41 games (Bob Welch was next at 192, 174 for Dave Stieb and 168 for Nolan Ryan).

    The purpose of this analysis is not to detract from Nolan Ryan, but it’s hard to ignore that during a 14 year period of what is Ryan’s “second prime” (it is, after all, Ryan’s longevity and strikeout numbers which propelled him into the Hall so overwhelmingly), Morris outwins the near unanimous first rounder by 65 games.

    It’s instructive that 14 consecutive years seems to be an accurate yardstick for great pitchers who stake their Cooperstown claim on the strength of their “prime” (we’ll call them the “Prime Pitchers”) as opposed to the group of great pitchers who base their claims on longevity (we’ll call them the “Endurers”).

    Step back 10 years from Morris’ prime and look at the great pitchers of the late 60’s and 70’s. In what is the prime of the great Tom Seaver (1969-1982 – remember 1969 is the “Miracle Mets” year when Seaver wins 25), Seaver wins one game less than Morris in his 14 year prime (233 for Morris and 232 for Seaver). The 14-year period from 1961 to 1974 for Bob Gibson shows Gibson winning 242 games, 9 more than Morris. Jim Palmer’s 14 year prime (1969-1982) has him winning 240 games (7 more than Morris). Steve Carlton’s 14-year prime (1969-1982) is the best of that era at 258 wins followed by Gaylord Perry (14-year prime from 1966-1979) at 255 wins. Ferguson Jenkins’ 14 year prime (1967-1980) is next at 251 wins. Other than the somewhat earlier era career of Warren Spahn (the tops at 270 during his 14 year prime from 1947-1960), the only other two post World War II pitchers to win more than Jack Morris in their 14 consecutive year primes are Greg Maddux ( 1987-2000 – 238 wins – 5 more than Morris) and Juan Marichal (1961-1974 – 237 wins – 4 more than Morris). All of the above are Hall of Famers (including the certain future entry of Maddux)

    The following Prime Pitchers fall short of Morris’ 233 wins in his 14-year prime:

    • Whitey Ford (1953-1966) 225 wins (Hall of Famer)
    • Jim Bunning (1957-1970) 221 wins (Hall of Famer)
    • Roger Clemens ((1986-1999) 231 wins (Certain Future Hall of Famer)
    • Don Drysdale (1956-1969) full career – 209 wins (Hall of Famer)
    • Tom Glavine (1987-2000) 208 wins (Certain Future Hall of Famer)
    • Dennis Martinez (1977- 1990) 159 wins (Unlikely Hall of Famer)
    • Robin Roberts (1949-1962) 227 wins (Hall of Famer)
    • Bob Welch (1979-1992) 192 wins (Unlikely Hall of Famer)

    When we jump to the “Endurers” and give each of them the benefit of the doubt by counting only their “best” 14 years as the basis for the comparison (rather than any one 14 year consecutive period) Morris’ case for immediate entry into Cooperstown is only strengthened. The near unanimous first rounder, Nolan Ryan’s best 14 years gives him 10 less wins than Morris’ prime (Morris’ 233 wins to Ryan’s 223 wins). Bert Blyleven’s so far unsuccessful attempt is based on longevity and strikeouts. Blyleven’s best 14 years are the same as Ryan’s – 223 wins and 10 less than Morris’ prime. Other relevant Endurers and their best 14 years are as follows:

    • Orel Hersheiser —196 wins —37 less than Morris’ Prime (Unlikely Hall of Famer)
    • Bob Feller —242 wins —9 more than Morris’ Prime (Hall of Famer)
    • Catfish Hunter —222 wins — 11 less than Morris’ Prime (Hall of Famer)
    • Jim Kaat — 228 wins — 5 less than Morris’ Prime (Maybe Future Hall of Famer)
    • Jimmy Key —185 wins — 48 less than Morris’ Prime (Unlikely Hall of Famer)
    • Phil Niekro — 236 wins — 3 more than Morris’ Prime (Hall of Famer)
    • Don Sutton —228 wins — 5 less than Morris’ Prime (Hall of Famer)
    • Early Wynn — 237 wins — 4 more than Morris’ Prime (Hall of Famer)
    • David Cone — 182 wins – 51 less than Morris’ Prime (Unlikely Hall of Famer)

    Whether it’s the “Prime Pitcher” analysis or the “Endurer” analysis, the answer is the same. The only pitchers greater than Morris are the consensus Hall of Famers: Seaver, Palmer, Gibson, Carlton, Jenkins, Perry, Marichal, Maddux, Feller, Niekro, Spahn and Wynn. The others who have made it as well as those who haven’t are not at his level and the numbers bear that out.

    On a more typical time analysis, the winners of the most games in every decade in the 20th century are all existing. or in the singular case of the 1990’s and Greg Maddux, future Hall of Famers except for one; Jack Morris. The 00’s found Grover Cleveland Alexander as the pitcher with the most wins. The 10’s was led by Walter Johnson; the 20’s by Burleigh Grimes; the 30’s by Lefty Grove, and Hal Newhouser was the winningest pitcher in the 40’s. Probably more instructive is the comparison of Morris with the “modern” pitchers. When you make that comparison, Morris is right in the middle of that group and belongs with them in Cooperstown. They are as follows:

    ? 1950’s Spahn 3 more wins than the next highest, Robin Roberts
    ? 1960’s Marichal 33 more than the next highest, Don Drysdale
    ? 1970’s Palmer 8 more than the next 3 highest, Jenkins, Seaver and Carlton
    ? 1980’s MORRIS 22 more than next highest, Dave Stieb
    ? 1990’s Maddux 12 more than next highest, Tom Glavine

    Jack Morris is in the rarified air that Hall of Famers occupy. His absence would be a great injustice.


    Morris’ curricula vitae is as follows:

    • Greatest 7th game pitching performance in World Series History (Game 7, 1991, 10 IP – 0 ER – 7 hits- Winning Pitcher in 1-0 victory over Braves)

    • One of the Innovators of the Split Fingered Fastball

    • 1979-1992 – 233 Wins- 41 more than the next highest total and 65 more than Nolan Ryan

    • 254 career wins in 527 starts – comparable to Jim Palmer’s 268 career wins in 521 starts (consider the talent of the Orioles teams over Palmer’s career against that of Morris’ Tigers)

    • 3 seasons with 20 wins or more – compared with Don Sutton’s 1 season- Jim Bunning’s 1 season

    • 5 seasons with 17 wins or more (but less than 20 wins). Ryan had 3 – 17+ seasons

    • 3824 innings pitched – 6X 250+ innings – 11X 200+ innings

    • Pitched on 4 World Champions – Ace of 2, maybe 3 of those teams (perhaps not the ace of the ’93 Blue Jays) with a World Series record of 4 wins – 2 losses and a 2.96 ERA in the World Series

    • Acknowledged big time clutch pressure pitcher

    • Unquestioned Pitcher of the 1980’s

    • Pitched a No-Hitter

    • Started 14 consecutive Opening Day games during his career, tying him with the great Walter Johnson for most consecutive Opening Day games

    • Acknowledged number one pitcher on 1984 Detroit Tigers – one
    of baseball’s all time great teams

    Absent from the c.v. is any Cy Young Award. He never led the league in ERA. His ERA of 3.90 would be the highest of the starting pitchers in the Hall. He led the league in strikeouts only once, innings pitched only once and games won twice.


    The picture is clear. While he never dominated for one year in a Koufax or Gibson mode, he did, perhaps more importantly, dominate his era with a magnitude that is the equivalent, at least, of the greatest modern day pitchers. He was the clutch pitcher of his generation and his success in the World Series venue bears that out. When you stack up the numbers, Morris is outperformed only by the most “elite” pitchers of the modern day. Other than those most elite (Seaver, Palmer, Gibson, Carlton, Perry, Spahn, Maddux, Jenkins) existing Hall of Famers fall consistently short of his greatness.

    Morris is a Hall of Famer, plain and simple. The absence of a few stellar years or a Ryan like strikeout ability has to be the answer for the results of his first 2 years on the Hall of Fame ballot. BBWAA writers took note and his numbers have moved significantly. Morris may not be the media friendly quote machine of someone like Palmer, but his dominance of his era over an extended career means he belongs there beside Palmer, Seaver, Gibson and Carlton (or maybe more correctly, Ford, Bunning, Sutton, Drysdale and Roberts) in Cooperstown.

  14. nick says:

    Plain and simple, played for some pretty average Detroit teams and won lots of games. Unlike Whitey and Gibson. Jack was the best of the 80s period. Vote him in.

  15. Craig Smith says:

    Was Jack the best ever? No. Was he the best of his era? Yes! And for that reason alone he easily belongs in the Hall of Fame. The END!

  16. Xerac117 says:

    I’ve read comments that tout how great and HOF worthy Morris is. That he was a big game pitcher, he knew how to win, he pitched to the scoreboard, he was the best pitcher in the 1980’s, he pitched in a tough division, he pitched for mediocre teams.

    Morris had a few big games but he also had 4 bad post-season performances. Now let’s compare that to Blyleven, who never had a bad post-season performance and, on just 2 days rest in 1979, with the Pirates facing elimination in Game 5 of the World Series, Chuck Tanner turns to Blyleven, who proceeds to pitch 4 scoreless innings as the Pirates not only win game 5 but were in a position to win the World Series, which they did. Chuck Tanner said it was either put Blyleven in or go home. Tanner was saying there was no pitcher better suited for a critical, big game situation than Blyleven.

    Morris did not know how to win. During his career he had a .577 winning percentage and the teams he played for had a .553 winning percentage when his W-L record is removed (hardly mediocre). So Morris was .024 better than the teams he played for. Let’s compare that to Blyleven, who has a reputation as a “loser” and not pitching well when not given run support. Well, Blyleven had a .534 winning percentage and the teams he played for had a .496 when his W-L record is removed. Blyleven was .038 better than the teams he played for.

    As for pitching to the scoreboard, great pitchers do not do that, they pitch the same no matter what. Bob Gibson, in “Sixty Feet, Six Inches” even states as much. Also, Morris, when given 0-2 runs of support, had an ERA of 3.98 but an ERA of 3.52 when given 3-5 runs of support. If Morris was pitching to the scoreboard, I would expect his ERA to be lower when given 0-2 runs of support.

    As for his ERA being inflated due to pitching in a tough division, his ERA+ shows that not to be true.

    As for being the best pitcher in the AL during the 1980’s, an arguement based upon his having won more games than any other pitcher, is suspect at best. Compare Morris to Blyleven for the period of 1981-89 and Morris doesn’t even look better.
    -Blyleven had an ERA of 3.62 compared to Morris’ 3.61 but Blyleven’s ERA+ was 119.72 and Morris’ was 112.60.
    -Blyleven had a WHIP of 1.216 and Morris had a WHIP of 1.245.
    -Blyleven sruck out 17.00% of the batters he faced and averaged 6.343 K’s/9. Morris sruck out 16.61% of the batters he faced and averaged 6.224 K’s/9
    -Morris did cmplete 41.22% of his starts while Blyleven completed 34.77% of his starts but Morris averaged 7.411 innings per start and Blyleven 7.262 innings per start.
    -Blyleven pitched 19 complete game shutouts, 7.42% of his starts. Morris threw 18 complete game shutouts, 6.08% of his starts.
    -Morris gave up 1.001 HR’s per 9 IP while Blyleven gave up 0.928 HR per 9 IP.
    -Blyleven had .561 winning percentage but the teams he pitched for had a .469 winning without his W-L record, a difference of .092 and Blyleven’s winning percentage was 19.62% better. Morris had a .584 winning percentage while the Tigers had a .527 winning percentage without his W-L record, a difference of .057 and only 10.82% better.
    -In 1984, Blyleven was considered the best starting pitcher (he finished behind two relivers), something that Morris never achieved even once in his career.
    -Morris did pitch more innings over all and did not get a serious injury, which is a definitive plus but still, his performance overall was not as dominating as people seem to think.

    Also, take a look at the number of top 10 and top 5 finishes for Morris in the categories of ERA+, K’s/9, Complete Games, Shutouts, WHIP, K/BB ratio, fewest Hits/9 and fewest BB/9 and you will see that Morris is lacking.

  17. Xerac117 says:

    By the way, Steve, it was Joe Niekro who was considered a cheater and got caught, not Phil. Get your facts straight and quit trying to rewrite history.

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