Hall can still do right by Morris, John

Two workhorse pitchers among 10 names on Modern Era Committee's ballot

December 9th, 2017

The 16 members of the Modern Era Committee will meet on Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to determine whether any candidates among the 10 on the ballot will join the 317 players, managers, executives and umpires already enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
There are 220 players among that group, 124 of them elected during the annual voting of eligible and approved members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Hall panel set for Modern Era vote
Once players are no longer eligible to be placed on the BBWAA ballots, they can be selected for the Modern Era Committee's ballot. The BBWAA doesn't miss often, and the voters didn't miss on a majority of the candidates on this year's Modern Era ballot. Those players are: Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Luis Tiant and Alan Trammell. Union leader Marvin Miller, who is on an Era Committee ballot for the fourth time, is also on the ballot. The BBWAA doesn't vote on managers, executives and umpires.
Morris, Garvey, Trammell and John are, perhaps, deserving of another look. Morris, Garvey and Trammell had plenty of voting support in their 15-year run on the BBWAA ballot. As for John, his career stats need to be re-evaluated against where starting pitching is in the Major Leagues today.
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The remainder of the players on the Committee's ballot either registered highs of 20 percent to 30 percent in BBWAA voting or, in the case of Simmons, didn't garner the requisite 5 percent to remain on the ballot after his first year.
Morris, who topped out at 67.7 percent of the BBWAA vote, was a tremendous pitcher in the American League during the 1980s, and is getting a second look. So is Trammell, Morris' teammate on the 1984 World Series-winning Tigers. Trammell, the MVP of the '84 Series, registered 40.9 percent in 2016, his best showing in his final year on the ballot.

Garvey, the first baseman who won a National League MVP Award, two NL Championship Series MVP Awards and two All-Star Game MVP Awards with the Dodgers and Padres, peaked at 42.6 percent in 1995. This is Garvey's third time being on the ballot of some derivation of the Modern Era Committee.
John, whose zenith was 31.7 percent in 2009, his last year on the BBWAA ballot, registered 288 wins, completed 162 games and tossed 4,710 1/3 innings as a workhorse in his 26-year career. A good portion of his resume came after he missed the 1975 season. He underwent ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow, a procedure that is now common among pitchers and bears his name. He's also on an Era Committee ballot for the third time.
BBWAA voters -- and I'm one of them, since 1992 -- missed on Morris, John and Jim Kaat, the left-hander who won 283 games, completed 180, won 16 Gold Glove Awards and threw 4,530 1/3 innings.

Comparatively, a modern-day workhorse, the late, great Roy Halladay, who will be on the BBWAA ballot for the first time in 2018, won 203 games, completed 67 and threw 2,749 1/3 innings before retiring after 16 seasons. And there will be a lot of sentiment to elect Halladay next year.
It can be argued that John and Kaat were never the best pitchers on their respective starting staffs. Certainly Morris was, however. He starred on three World Series-winning teams (Detroit in '84, Minnesota in '91 and Toronto in '92) and had one of the greatest pitching performances in World Series history, firing a 10-inning shutout in a 1-0 victory of Game 7 for the Twins over the Braves at the hitter-friendly Metrodome in '91.
"I think we need to address John and Kaat before we lower the standards on the next generation of pitchers to get in the Hall," said Don Sutton, one of eight Hall of Famers on the current Modern Era Committee.
He'll have a chance to at least address John, his Dodgers teammate from 1972-78. Sutton, who also played with Garvey in Los Angeles for 11 years, won 324 games in 23 big league seasons.
The vote is slated to be announced by Hall president Jeff Idelson Sunday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET as the Winter Meetings open. Any electees will be introduced at a media conference there the next day.
Because of the way starting pitchers are used in the current game, the win has become a meaningless stat. Starters often don't pitch deep enough into games to qualify for a win. Major League Baseball had just 59 complete-game performances in 2017, or less than two per team.
Bert Blyleven was perhaps the most apt beneficiary of BBWAA voters recognizing workhorse starters; he entered the Hall in 2011 after 14 years on the ballot.
Nothing about Blyleven's 22-season career had changed. He had still finished with 287 wins, 242 complete games, 3,701 strikeouts and a massive 4,970 innings pitched.
But perceptions of his body of work had changed. Just to compare, , considered the best of the current crop and on a Hall of Fame path, has 144 wins, 25 complete games, 1,935 innings pitched and 2,120 strikeouts to show for his first 10 years.
BBWAA voters bobbled the ball on John and Morris. The Modern Era Committee members can vote for as many as four candidates, and hopefully they'll rectify those mistakes.