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The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Starting Pitcher – Jack Morris

At this point, Jack Morris thrives and starves on reputation, and it shows when the voting for the Hall of Fame comes out. He’s heralded as a clutch pitcher mostly for his 1991 World Series Game Seven ten inning shutout. He had a 4-2 record in the World Series, but he was 4-0 until his last World Series when he played for the Jays in 1992. And although he never won the Cy Young, he finished in the top five on five different occasions.

The general criticism is that his career numbers aren’t quite there. He has a career ERA of 3.90, and his career ERA+ is 105, so it’s a touch above average. And he never hit any of those magic marks like 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.

As far as his career, I’m right in the middle. I know he’s not quite as good as his best moments would indicate (similar to Kirk Gibson), but he’s not quite as bad as his numbers might show. As long as Bert Blyleven isn’t in the Hall of Fame, I can’t quite give him the nod, but barring that, Jack Morris was a very good pitcher for a very long time, and that’s worth something.

1984 was a tale of two seasons for Morris. by the end of May he stood 10-1, and people started throwing out the potential for 30 wins. When it was all said and done, he didn’t even win 20, but by the time he began to struggle, the Tigers already had a nice enough cushion to where it didn’t matter as much.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Innings Pitched 240 1/3
Wins 19
Losses 11
ERA 3.60
ERA+ 109
WHIP 1.282
H/9 8.28
BB/9 3.26
SO/9 5.54
HR/9 0.75
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 60
Stuff 14

All pretty good numbers. He finished seventh in the Cy Young (behind two teammates) and that was all despite the horrible second half.

As Blade indicated, this was a lot closer then I first through it would be. Gary Nolan had a nice season in 1975, but in my eyes, it just didn’t stack up to the season Morris had. And Morris was better for 30 more innings.

Scoredboard – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 4

You can read Blade’s analysis of Gary Nolan over at Reds Cutting Edge.

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