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.