5th December 2013
I don't think it's a secret that the sabermetric case for Jack Morris is an especially thin one. A ranking using WAR has him about the 25th best player on the ballot. But we hear all of these stats about how much of a workhorse Morris was. Here is an example from Tom Verducci. Now it's true that Morris pitched into the 8th the most of his era, but when he did he was actually way below average among of group of pitchers who pitched 100+ outings of that length.
Morris worked deep in the games, but it was largely due to usage rather than effectiveness. When he went 8 innings he was league average, when he went five innings he was league average. The chart below shows the number of innings completed by the starter per start. So the "0" row is not all first innings, but just the games they didn't make it out of the first inning. Their complete games would be in the 9 row. Now there is a value to pitching late into games and Morris should be credited by that value, but it certainly looks to me that a big reason Morris went late into games was the astronomical run support he was getting not because he was pitching so much better than the average pitcher. Note that for outings last one inning or longer Morris' RA is WORSE than league average for every single outing length.
|All AL SP's 1975-1997||Jack Morris||Frank Tanana (1975 on)|
|completed innings||% of all GS||W-L%||RA||tmAvgRS||% of all GS||W-L%||RA||tmAvgRS||% of all GS||W-L%||RA||tmAvgRS|
It seems to me if the basis of your argument for Morris in the HOF was that he pitched deep into a lot of games (and was about avg in those outings) then you have a pretty weak argument. The summary of our view is that Morris was a pretty good pitcher on very good teams, but really is not a whole lot better than someone like David Wells or Frank Tanana. And certainly not better than Mike Mussina or Kevin Brown.