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Posted: Tuesday January 20, 2009 6:30PM; Updated: Wednesday January 21, 2009 8:02AM
Joe Posnanski Joe Posnanski >
JOE'S BLOG

A few more thoughts on baseball's Hall of Fame voting (cont.)

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Still, these hardened images from 30 years ago are hard to overcome, and many people -- even people who see Blyleven's clearly superior statistics right in front of their eyes -- still insist that Jack Morris was a better pitcher, and a more worthy Hall of Famer, than Bert Blyleven. The one crutch they use is wins ... and by wins I don't mean "most wins" because, of course, Blyleven has 33 more career victories than Morris. No, instead, these people, many who turn up their noses when it comes to advanced baseball statistics, will use some sort of complicated and convoluted "win formula" that would make VORP and ERA+ look like second-grade math. True, Morris may not have won as many actual games as Blyleven, but if you multiply that by his better winning percentage, add that he won 20 more often, put it to the power of most wins in the 1980s and divide it by the square root of him pitching three teams to the World Series, you will clearly see ...

And, yes, Morris was feared, too. Never underestimate fear and intimidation. That's your cosine.

It's a shame, really, because Jack Morris was an excellent pitcher. Overrated, perhaps, but excellent just the same, and I have no interest in diminishing his career. Thing is: He just wasn't nearly as good as Blyleven, and until people fully appreciate that, I fear that Blyleven will not get the push he needs to go over 75 percent on the Hall of Fame ballot. So here's one more way to look at this: Here is a breakdown of Morris and Blyleven's wins, losses and no-decisions based on the number of earned runs they gave up. Look at these and tell me who was the better pitcher ...

WINS

8 runs: Morris 1 win, Blyleven 0.
7 runs: Morris 1 win, Blyleven 1
6 runs: Morris 10 wins, Blyleven 0 (!!)
5 runs: Morris 15 wins, Blyleven 3
Total cheap wins: Morris 27, Blyleven 4

4 runs: Morris 21 wins, Blyleven 20
3 runs: Morris 38 wins, Blyleven 39
Solid wins: Morris 60, Blyleven 59

2 runs: Morris 50 wins, Blyleven 54
1 run: Morris 64 wins, Blyleven 89
0 runs: Morris 54 wins, Blyleven 81
Well-pitched wins: Morris 168, Blyleven 224

LOSSES

9 runs: Morris 0 losses, Blyleven 2
8 runs: Morris 12 losses, Blyleven 3
7 runs: Morris 13 losses, Blyleven 14
6 runs: Morris 22 losses,Blyleven 21
5 runs: Morris 38 losses, Blyleven 52
Bad losses: Morris 85, Blyleven 92

4 runs: Morris 35 losses, Blyleven 48
3 runs: Morris 35 losses, Blyleven 61
Solid losses: Morris 70, Blyleven 109
2 runs: Morris 24 losses, Blyleven 31
1 run: Morris 6 losses, Blyleven 16
0 runs: Morris 1 loss, Blyleven 2
Hard-luck losses: Morris 31, Blyleven 49

NO-DECISIONS (min. 7 IP)

7 runs: Morris 1 ND, Blyleven 2 ND
6 runs: Morris 1 ND, Blyleven 7 ND
5 runs: Morris 5 ND, Blyleven 7 ND
Team let him off the hook: Morris 7, Blyleven 16

4 runs: Morris 9 ND, Blyleven 9
3 runs: Morris 9 ND, Blyleven 15
Solid No-Decisions: Morris 18, Blyleven 24
2 runs: Morris 14 ND, Blyleven 20
1 run: Morris 6 ND, Blyleven 14
0 runs: Morris 2 ND, Blyleven 8
Team couldn't score enough runs: Morris 22, Blyleven 42

*******

Having an interesting discussion with a couple of baseball people about how much voters should consider award voting for the Hall of Fame. I don't mean the actual awards themselves -- it's regrettable, but a fact, that Tim Raines did not win an MVP award, Alan Trammell lost the MVP in '87, Dan Quisenberry never won a Cy Young and so on. I'm sure I will keep ranting and raving about it, but reality is reality, and they are just not going to get any credit for what SHOULD have happened. Titanic won an Oscar, Christopher Cross won a handful of Grammys, Roy Jones lost the '88 Olympic boxing gold, the 1972 U.S. basketball team lost to the Soviets and history isn't changing.

But one thing that I believe is a fairly recent development -- and maybe a very bad one -- is players getting credit for ALMOST winning awards, or coming reasonably close to winning awards, or not even coming especially close but getting a few award votes.

Not to pick on Jack Morris again but ... he never won a Cy Young Award. We can all agree on that, right? He never won a Cy Young Award. He never won, and he never finished second, and he never was the highest finishing starter, either (Blyleven was in 1984 ... finishing behind Willie Hernandez and Quisenberry).

So lately I have seen several people talk about how often Morris finished in the TOP TEN in the Cy Young voting -- hey, Jack Morris finished top 10 in the Cy Young voting seven times while Blyleven only finished top 10 four times. And so on.

Pointless. Beyond pointless. First off, there are math problems here -- writers only vote top three in the Cy Young Award. So finishing seventh in the poll means absolutely nothing. Morris finished seventh in the voting in 1984. Do you know what that means? He got one third-place vote. That's it. One guy, impressed with Morris' grit, his fortitude, his toughness, his 3.60 ERA, his team's great start, whatever, gave Morris a third-place vote. Now that's a Hall of Fame credential?

In 1992 Morris actually got a FIRST-PLACE Cy Young vote, despite his 4.04 ERA (placing him a solid 27th in the American League) and 1.255 WHIP (17th in the American League). This wasn't a major scandal in 1992 because, really, who cares about the guy who finishes fifth in the Cy Young voting? Dennis Eckersley won going away (Roger Clemens more or less got screwed, Mike Mussina, too, but that's another story) and that was it. Now, 16 years later, people want to give Morris extra credit for the bizarre voting pattern of an unknown baseball writer?

The MVP balloting has its own issues, because voters have to go 10 deep ... and there have been some bizarre picks down-ballot. Dick Schofield got an MVP vote. Corey Koskie got one. Steve Kline, Mariano Duncan, Rich Gedman, George Wright, Jody Davis, Enos Cabell, Floyd Robinson, Tony Gonzalez the baseball player and many others have received MVP votes. But that's not the point, and it never was the point ... the point is to get a consensus of voters to determine who is the MVP or Cy Young or Rookie of the Year. The writers have gotten it wrong pretty often, true, but that should be the focus. I think the rest of this is just scratch paper ... or should be.

In other words: I REALLY wish people would look at how many times a player finished Top 10 in OPS+ or Win Shares or EqA or ERA+ or Runs Saved Above Average ... I realize that many people do not like the advanced statistics. But even the most anti-stats person in the world should admit that these sorts of stats make more sense than going back and looking to see how many top 10 Cy Young Award finishes a player had.

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Joe Posnanski is a columnist for the Kansas City Star and the author of joeposnanski.com.

 
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