The other day, The Common Man wrote a short post on The Daily Something about Jamie Moyer’s longevity, in which TCM claimed that Moyer is not Hall of Fame material. This prompted the following comment from the blog’s purveyor and good friend,
“He's not a Hall of Famer...but it's always important (to me) to note that if he's not, neither is Jack Morris. Nearly identical IP and ERA+, and Moyer now has almost as many strikeouts and many fewer walks. To believe Morris is a Hall of Famer, you have to believe that one really good World Series game is all it would take to propel Jamie Moyer there.”
Touche, Bill. As Bill points out, the difference between Moyer and Morris is an eyelash at this point (that eyelash being a 10 inning shutout and that they throw with opposite hands). Compare the following chart:
Relative to their leagues, the two players are pretty similar on a superficial level. That said, Moyer has more innings, much better control, and a higher WAR than Morris, according to BaseballReference.com. And while Morris made his bones in the World Series (4-2, 2.96), his overall playoff record (7-4, 3.80, 0.9 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.2 K/9, and 2.0 K/BB) is much more in line with his overall numbers. And those ALCS starts count too. Plus, it’s not like Moyer has been a slouch in the postseason (3-3, 4.14 ERA with a lower HR/9 and BB/9 and a higher K/9 and K/BB). In fact, if we remove one disastrous start for Moyer against the Dodgers in 2008 (when he gave up 6 runs in 1.1 innings), Moyer’s postseason ERA is 2.93. The main difference between the two hurlers in the postseason seems to be innings pitched, where Morris has more than twice the experience in October. So, while Morris does get some extra credit for his postseason heroics, it’s probably not enough to substantially separate himself from Moyer, if we’re looking at their careers objectively.
So what do we make of this? Morris was never an elite pitcher in the American League, just a good pitcher for a long time. Similarly, Jamie Moyer was probably never an elite pitcher in either league (only one all star appearance, a few high finishes in Cy Young voting but never top 3). The two are each the second most similar pitcher to one another according to Bill James’ similarity scores (amazingly, the most similar pitcher to each of them is Dennis Martinez). Given the general qualifications of Hall of Fame pitchers, neither really passes the bar.
That said, The Common Man has recently become more of a “Big Hall” kind of guy, and can envision a Hall of Fame that welcomes both the twirler of the greatest game in World Series history and the pitching with the biggest post-30 career turnaround ever. After all, we all enjoyed the careers of both Morris and Moyer, and TCM sees nothing wrong with reliving those memories when we browse the plaques in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame Gallery.
So The Common Man revises his earlier statement. Moyer for the Hall! And Moyer! And Santo! But all of them have to line up behind Blyleven.