Jon Heyman reveals his Hall of Fame ballot, so once again we discuss Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven

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Jon Heyman just tweeted his Hall of Fame ballot: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Tim Raines. I guess Jeff Bagwell does’t count for anything, but we’ll leave that to another post.

I wrote extensively on Heyman’s ballot last year, when he included Alomar, Andre Dawson, Larkin, Parker, Morris & Mattingly.  The first post in that series is here.  I won’t rehash every argument again, but I will raise this point once again: you can vote for Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame. You can vote for Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame. You can also keep both of them out if you’re a small-Hall kind of guy. You cannot, however, vote for Jack Morris and not vote for Bert Blyleven.

This is not about values and a simple difference of opinion. If it were, I’d leave this alone. This is a matter of intellectual consistency, because the contours of Morris and Blyleven’s cases for the Hall of Fame are basically the same, with Blyleven being superior in most respects.

Blyleven and Morris were both good, durable but rarely-considered-great pitchers. Neither won a Cy Young award.  Morris has three World Series rings, but he had a lot of help (Blyleven has two rings of his own, and he also had help, as all pitchers who get World Series rings do).  Blyleven had far stronger numbers in just about every other category.  Blyleven’s critics point to his winning percentage not being substantially higher than that of the teams for which he played.  He actually out-performed the teams on which he played more than Morris out-performed his teams. Bert’s career winning percentage was 38 percentage points higher than that of his teams. Morris’ was 30 percentage points higher. Each was dependent on their colleagues and neither was dominant in a way that higher-tiered pitchers like Seaver and Carlton and others were.

Morris supporters cite his win total, but Blyleven’s was superior. Morris supporters cite his playoff performances, but Blyleven had a lower postseason ERA and a higher postseason winning percentage than Morris did. Jack Morris was superior to Bert Blyleven in one single category: winning Game Seven of the 1991 World Series.  And really, I think that’s what it all comes down too.  But for a Lonnie Smith baserunning error we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Or am I missing something here?

I don’t deign to tell people who they should vote for on their Hall of Fame ballot. All I ask is an identifiable methodology and some semblance of consistency.  Voting for Morris and not voting for Blyleven exhibits neither as far as I can tell.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.