Morris and the Hall

There has been plenty written about Jack Morris and the Hall of Fame over the past few weeks. While it’s not a slam dunk, indications are that Morris will be inducted in 2013.

On one hand, I’d like to see it, if for no other reason than to once again shine a light on what was the definitive baseball game of my childhood: Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. 10 innings. No runs. Jack Buck’s call: “The Twins are gonna win the World Series, the Twins have won it! It’s a base hit. It’s a one-nothing, ten-inning victory!”

As an aside, I would guess that many would argue that Game 6, the Puckett home run, was more memorable and important. I won’t argue with that. Game 7 is more memorable for me for a couple of reasons, mostly unrelated to the games themselves. For one, I remember where I was when I watched Game 7. For some reason, I don’t remember Game 6 quite as vividly. Also, I had the VCR running for Game 7, and have probably viewed that game at least twice per year for the past 20 years. I just recently acquired the 1991 DVD set, and when I get to Game 6 it will be only the second time that I have seen the entire game.

Back to Morris. While his affiliation with the Twins was short, it was important. There is no chance he’ll have a Twins’ hat on his Hall of Fame plaque, but he is nonetheless identified very closely with the local team thanks to the Game 7 performance. If Morris does get in, it will be fun to see him honored at Target Field.

That said, I don’t think that Jack Morris belongs. The numbers just aren’t there (follow the links above if you want a statistical walk-through). What is interesting is that whether you approach the question with a SABRmetric slant (WAR, WHIP, etc.) or take a more traditional view (Wins, ERA, etc.), Morris falls well short of the current Hall of Fame standard.

The reason he will likely get in, I think, is due in part to his reputation as a “big-game pitcher,” but some of it may be a sort of backlash to the Blyleven vote last year. For all of his superior numbers, the knock on Blyleven has always been that he didn’t “feel” like a Hall of Famer and never seemed like a dominant pitcher. I have trouble getting into the head of someone who still makes that argument, but I suspect that a Morris induction might be a way for a few writers to reclaim the vague but persistent notion that the gut feeling is the best way to evaluate a player’s Hall of Fame candidacy.

I don’t find that argument to be particularly persuasive, but Jack Morris was a very good pitcher, and is as responsible as anybody for my Twins’ fandom and love of baseball, so I won’t complain too loudly if and when he is inducted.

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