Jack Morris Deserves Spot in Baseball Hall of Fame

By Chris Katje
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

At 2pm on Wednesday January 9th, the announcement will come for the 2013 induction class for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Later on July 28th, those selected will be inducted at a ceremony at the hall in Cooperstown, New York. Hopefully, voters will finally elect the deserving pitcher Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame.

Morris holds a lifetime 254-186 pitching record. Along with his 254 wins, Morris has 2478 strikeouts. On the MLB all time list, Morris ranks 42nd in wins and 32nd in strikeouts. Morris was an ace pitcher, being the number one in several team’s rotations. Morris pitched for the Detroit Tigers (1977-1990), Minnesota Twins (1991), Toronto Blue Jays (1992-1993) and Cleveland Indians (1994). Morris won 20 games in three of his seasons. In the 1980s, Morris posted 162 wins, the most by any starting pitcher during the entire decade.

One of the statistics that gets me on Morris is his opening day starts. Opening day pitchers are considered your best or “ace” pitcher. Morris started a consecutive 11 opening days for the Tigers from 1980-1990. Morris also was an opening day starter for the Twins and Blue Jays. Morris’s total of 14 opening day starts ranks second all time, behind Tom Seaver with 16. The choice of Morris as opening day starter shows several managers’ belief that he was the best player on the team. Twelve pitchers have started double digit opening day games. Of those twelve, eight currently have plaques residing in Cooperstown.

In the eleven opening day games for the Tigers, Morris posted a 7-4 record. Since Morris left the team in 1991, 15 different Tigers pitchers have been starters on opening day. In those 21 seasons, only Justin Verlander has started more than three opening day games.

Another sign that Morris was trusted by coaches, was his all-star and postseason history. Morris was selected for five All-Star games. As selected by the coaches, Morris was the starting pitcher in three of those games. In seven career postseasons, Morris was handed the ball to pitch Game 1 in all but one of those seasons. Morris held a 7-4 career postseason record, with a 3.80 era.

In the World Series, Morris was dominant, posting a 4-2 record. Morris held a 2.96 era in the MLB Championship Series and even won World Series MVP in 1991 with the Minnesota Twins. Morris won World Series titles with the 1984 Tigers, 1991 Twins, 1992 Blue Jays, and 1993 Blue Jays.

The biggest knack against Morris is his high amount of earned runs. Over an eighteen season career, Morris holds an era of 3.90. Morris recently addressed his critics by saying, “Let me ask you this. When did we decide that earned-run average was more important than wins.”

In the 2012 voting, Morris received his highest total yet and missed getting into the half by only 48 votes. Morris became eligible in 2000 and didn’t receive more than 30% of the vote until 2004. In 2010, Morris broke the 50% mark, being selected on 52.3% of all ballots cast.

It appears that Morris has a good shot at getting in this year. Many sports writers have already publicly revealed their ballots. On MLB.com, eleven of the sixteen writers selected Morris on their ballot. This represents 69%, just shy of the 75% that would be required to get into the hall. A couple of those ballots had Morris selected for the first time.

Morris was the most dominant pitcher in baseball during the 1980s. While arguments can be made for allowing players in the hall who were part of the steroid era, can an argument really be made for keeping the best pitcher of a decade out because of a higher era?

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