Does the so-called “best pitcher (162 wins) of the 1980’s” belong in the Hall of Fame?

Jack Morris is most remembered for his 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.  The mustachioed right-hander anchored the 1984 Detroit Tigers, 1991 Minnesota Twins, and 1992 Toronto Blue Jays to baseball immortality.

However, those merits alone are not worthy of enshrinement into Cooperstown.  Let’s take a closer look at his regular season numbers.

Age Tm W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H ER HR BB SO

1977

22

DET

1

1

3.74

6

1

0

45.67

38

19

4

23

28

1978

23

DET

3

5

4.33

7

0

0

106.00

107

51

8

49

48

1979

24

DET

17

7

3.28

27

9

1

197.67

179

72

19

59

113

1980

25

DET

16

15

4.18

36

11

2

250.00

252

116

20

87

112

1981

26

DET

14

7

3.05

25

15

1

198.00

153

67

14

78

97

1982

27

DET

17

16

4.06

37

17

3

266.33

247

120

37

96

135

1983

28

DET

20

13

3.34

37

20

1

293.67

257

109

30

83

232

1984

29

DET

19

11

3.60

35

9

1

240.33

221

96

20

87

148

1985

30

DET

16

11

3.33

35

13

4

257.00

212

95

21

110

191

1986

31

DET

21

8

3.27

35

15

6

267.00

229

97

40

82

223

1987

32

DET

18

11

3.38

34

13

0

266.00

227

100

39

93

208

1988

33

DET

15

13

3.94

34

10

2

235.00

225

103

20

83

168

1989

34

DET

6

14

4.86

24

10

0

170.33

189

92

23

59

115

1990

35

DET

15

18

4.51

36

11

3

249.67

231

125

26

97

162

1991

36

MIN

18

12

3.43

35

10

2

246.67

226

94

18

92

163

1992

37

TOR

21

6

4.04

34

6

1

240.67

222

108

18

80

132

1993

38

TOR

7

12

6.19

27

4

1

152.67

189

105

18

65

103

1994

39

CLE

10

6

5.60

23

1

0

141.33

163

88

14

67

100

254

186

3.90

527

175

28

3824

3567

1657

389

1390

2478

Jack Morris, showing a splitter grip, his signature pitch.

Prior to the past decade, members of the baseball community would cite the 254 career wins, 175 complete games, and nearly 4000 innings pitched as lock down HOF credentials.  However, a closer examination would suggest that Morris was simply a durable “innings-eater” that gave his team a chance to win games.

The peripheral numbers suggest Morris was an average MLB pitcher posting a career 1.30 WHIP, 1.78 SO/BB 3.3 BB/9, 5.8 SO/9, 105 ERA+, 39.3 WAR (148th ranked pitcher)

Incidentally, the St. Paul native posted a 7-4 record, 3.80 ERA, 1.24 WHIP over 92.33 IP in his post-season career.  Basically, Morris was the same pitcher overall but everyone remembers Game 7.

The Factor12 Rating further scrutinizes the data.  Here are Jack Morris’ yearly rankings against every pitching season in the 1980s.

RANK

YEAR

PITCHER

AGE

IP

F12

55

1983

Jack Morris

28

293.67

28.940

112

1986

Jack Morris

31

267.00

28.014

136

1987

Jack Morris

32

266.00

27.774

192

1985

Jack Morris

30

257.00

27.237

308

1988

Jack Morris

33

235.00

26.420

410

1984

Jack Morris

29

240.33

26.026

457

1981

Jack Morris

26

198.00

25.875

798

1980

Jack Morris

25

250.00

24.725

818

1982

Jack Morris

27

266.33

24.653

1165

1989

Jack Morris

34

170.33

23.660

Morris’ average 1980s F12 season was 26.332, or slightly above average (24.000).  Meanwhile, the right-hander produced just one season that ranked in the Top 100.  In conclusion, Jack Morris was a very good pitcher who passed the eye-test for HOF induction but failed the F12 Rating test and other advanced statistical measures.

Thanks for Game 7 in 1991, Jack.  Unfortunately, you still need to buy a ticket to the hallowed grounds.