How Jack Morris came to be known as the best pitcher of the 1980s

13 Comments

Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball fame writes for The Hardball Times now. Two great things that go great together.  Today lar has a great post up in which traces the history of the “Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 80s” meme.  Given that, at the time, most people when asked would have said that Steve Carlton or Doc Gooden or Roger Clemens was the best of the 80s, I had figured someone came up with that once Morris started appearing on Hall of Fame ballots.

Nope, it started in the 1986-87 offseason, when the owners were shamefully colluding against Morris and other free agents:

Looking through newspaper reports from the late-1980s, the discussion of Morris as the “pitcher of the ‘80s” or “the decade’s best pitcher” seemed to begin in earnest in the winter following the 1986 season. Morris was a free-agent that year and, as of mid-December, had broken off the arbitration process with the Tigers in favor of four other clubs (the Angels, Yankees, Twins, and Phillies). The offers did not come in and, as the dreaded “c-word” came into play, writers were left trying to figure out what was happening.

lar then cites a number of newspaper articles from the time in which the meme begins to take hold.

Interesting stuff, as almost everything lar does is interesting.  Well worth your time today.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.