Jack Morris’ journey to Cooperstown is now complete, as he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday — closing one of the more interesting cases in voting history.
But while Morris’ case is closed, some wonder if it could lead to the opening of others.
Before we get into that, let’s look at how Morris’ candidacy ended up being handled by the Modern Baseball Era committee. Morris was gaining momentum among the Baseball Writers Association of America. He received 67.7 percent of the vote in 2013, his 14th year on the ballot. But his support dipped to 61.5 percent the next year, his final on the ballot.
Morris seemed to be on track to being elected by the BBWAA. His case was not helped by an increasingly crowded ballot, on that included Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and others.
Writers were trying to evaluate candidates whose careers might have been tainted by PEDs. It might also have been a period in which there where just more worth players to evaluate. Either way, it created a logjam and it didn’t help Morris.
“I think Morris would have been elected by the writers had the ballot not suddenly become more crowded,” said fangraphs.com writer Jay Jaffe, who specializes in Hall of Fame candidacy. “The class of first-time eligibles that arrived in 2013 was remarkable both in its depth and its polarizing nature.”
The Modern Era committee took care of that voting for Morris last year during the winter meetings in Orlando.
“Rod Carew was on the committee,” said Hall of Famer George Brett, who supported Morris. “Rod is one of the greatest hitters who ever played. Was a magician with the bat. Could hit the ball wherever he wanted to. He got up there and said Morris was an automatic out for him, an 0-for-3 if he was lucky enough to draw a walk. I faced Jack — and I said the same thing.”
Now it will be interesting to see if Morris’ arrival will help other borderline pitchers. Morris won 254 games, pitched 175 complete games and had 28 shutouts — all numbers that will be difficult for today’s pitchers to attain. But his 3.90 ERA is the highest of any pitcher in The Hall.
Jaffe doesn’t always agree with the notion that if one player gets in, others who meet his qualifications should be in too. But Morris’ arrival might lead to more debate about other borderline candidates.
“I do believe that if Morris is in, it’s particularly time to revisit the candidacies of several pitchers whose careers crossed over with his who were much more valuable,” Jaffe said, “such as Dave Stieb (the best pitcher of the 1980s, if indeed we’re bestowing that title), Orel Hershiser, David Cone, and Bret Saberhagen.”
The 3-2 pitch
Three observations …
• It will be up to players to end the shifting craze. Hitters must reprogram themselves to use the bunt and hit the other way to make defenses play them straight up again. No need for new rules.
• Hopefully research and development departments across the league are doing more than concluding that opening a game with a reliever is a brilliant idea.
• The AL Central is there for the Indians to take, but they are not taking advantage of the worst division in baseball.
… and two predictions
• The Twins will make two deals before Tuesday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.
• Byron Buxton will not be called back up until September.
INDIANS: Lefthander Andrew Miller is close to being activated, and then everyone will find out how manager Terry Francona will use his revamped bullpen since trading for lefthander Brad Hand and sidewinding righthander Adam Cimber. Will he make Hand the closer and move Cody Allen to a setup role? “We’ll make it work,” Francona said.
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ROYALS: You’ll hear rumors about players being traded right up until Tuesday’s nonwaiver trade deadline. One player who apparently is not being dealt is Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield, who is blossoming as a hitter. GM Dayton Moore has indicated that he will not trade Merrifield.
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TIGERS: Detroit’s offense has been scuffling recently but broke out of the funk on Wednesday when the Tigers bashed Royals lefthander Danny Duffy while winning 8-4. Seven runs came off Duffy, who was knocked out in the sixth inning. Victor Martinez, who has struggled all season, was 6-for-11 in the Royals series.
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WHITE SOX: Some Twins fans grumbled when Chicago claimed power-hitting prospect Daniel Palka off waivers last November. On Thursday, he blasted two home runs — one an estimated 445 feet — in a loss to Anaheim. But Palka was considered one of the worst outfielders in the International League when he played at Rochester, and he’s made many balls an adventure with the White Sox.