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Jack Morris Voter Hates What He Doesn't Understand (Numbers)

Illustration for article titled Jack Morris Voter Hates What He Doesnt Understand (Numbers)

You want to list Jack Morris on your Hall of Fame ballot? Fine. You want to vote for Jack Morris and not offer a public explanation? Go for it, it's your vote! But when a BBWAA member announces his vote for Jack Morris, citing as a sabermetrics flaw a specific thing that sabermetrics do very well, that's worth a shaming. Stupidity has never been a market inefficiency.


Today's voter is Pat Caputo of the Oakland Press, and he's here to tell you why Jack Morris belongs in Cooperstown. The usual arguments are here: longevity, counting stats, postseason success (even though Morris's career postseason performance wasn't any better than his regular season performance). But then we get to this:

Sabermetrics have greatly benefitted the game. The advanced math should count in matters of evaluation, whether it be an organization accessing talent, or media and fans ranking player performance.

But Sabermetrics has its flaws. One of them, for evaluation purposes regarding the Hall, is not accounting enough for statistics era to era.


This is insane. More than that, it's simply, obviously not true. Accounting for statistics from era to era is indisputably one of sabermetrics' greatest strengths. Joe Posnanski, who has already demolished Caputo's argument, goes so far to say that park- and era-adjusted statistics that give historical context to the familiar numbers "is at the very heart of what sabermetrics try to do....This is why we have such things as OPS+ and ERA+ and a hundred other context-driven baseball statistics. They try to remove layers of nonsense and get closer to the heart of things."

Yet Caputo doubles down:

A 3.00 ERA in 1968 didn't mean nearly as much as a 3.00 ERA in 1995, for example.

What an odd example, considering a) Jack Morris never had a ERA of 3.00 or better, and b) Jack Morris had retired by 1995. Caputo is trying to make the point that Morris played in a more offensive era than those he's being compared to. He doesn't just try—he outright says "much of [Morris's] career took place during the height of the so-called steroids era." This, again, is demonstrably false. Posnanski blows it up by looking at the runs per game of every season in which Morris pitched. Only his final two—1993 and 1994—did the curve start to trend upward. (And in those two seasons, an aged Morris posted ERAs of 6.19 and 5.60.)

Let's recap. Pat Caputo admits that traditional stats don't make much of a case for Morris. He then says advanced stats are insufficient because they also don't make a case for Morris. He then invokes a concept that advanced stats already cover, era-adjustment, and claims that if advanced stats did take that into account, they'd say Morris is great, even though they already say he's not. Caputometrics suck.


Everyone knows that Jack Morris would have the worst ERA of any Hall of Famer. The nicest thing Sabermetrics can say about him as that he'd have only the third-worst ERA+ in Cooperstown.

Correction, Jan. 6: An email from Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun editor Jim Lahde:,

Deadspin needs to check its facts


You attributed this column by Pat Caputo… as coming from The Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun.

Pat Caputo doesn't work for the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun and never has. Caputo works for The Oakland Press out of Pontiac, a sister paper of ours.

Barry needs to do some fact checking because that's terrible journalism.


We've corrected the sentence.

By any standard, Morris and Trammell belong in Baseball Hall of Fame [Morning Sun]
Sabermetrics vs. (Uh) Sabermetrics? [Joe Blogs]

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