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.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.