And that wasn't just in one unforgettable World Series game in 1991. It was in start after start, for 18 seasons. These are Verducci's numbers, not mine -- but I refuse to ignore the fact that, from 1979 to 1992, Morris racked up 18 percent more innings than any other pitcher in his sport. And made it through the eighth inning 45 percent more often than any other pitcher in his sport.
So let me say this one last time: I understand why so many voters wouldn't ever vote for Jack Morris. But there were elements of greatness in him that, for me, aren't adequately reflected by his ERA, his WHIP or his ERA-plus. And I'm allowed to believe in those elements. I'm allowed to factor them into this decision. And, above all, I'm allowed to vote for him one final time -- especially after voting for him 14 years in a row.
More doubles (668) than any right-handed hitter who ever lived. No kidding. … The only player in the past 100 years who can say he had a 50-double, 50-steal season. No kidding. … One of just three players in history who got 3,000 hits and spent most of his career at second base -- and neither of the other two (Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie) has shown up in a box score for more than 80 years. … Made a gigantic impact as a power/speed/leadoff force at three premium positions (catcher/second base/center field). Still hard to believe he didn't get elected last year. But this time for sure. Right?
Whatever reasons people are finding not to vote for this guy, they obviously have nothing to do with the amazing career he had. Bagwell is still the only first baseman in the 400-Homer, 200-Steal Club. (And nobody else since World War II is even in the 400-100 Club.) … He's one of two first basemen in history to run off 12 straight seasons with an OPS-plus of 130 or better. The other? How 'bout Lou Gehrig. … And have you noticed he won pretty much every award you can win, other than maybe a Grammy? Owns an MVP, rookie of the year, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and Sporting News player of the year. So Jeff Bagwell, my friends, is one of the four greatest first basemen of the live ball era. But he's still tainted, apparently, by suspicions of something or other.
Speaking of allegedly suspicious figures, isn't it a farce to have a Hall of Fame that doesn't include the greatest offensive catcher who ever wore a face mask? But that's where we stand with Mike Piazza: Highest OPS (.922) of any catcher ever. … Highest slugging percentage (.545). … Best adjusted OPS-plus (143). … Most homers (427). … As many Wins Above Replacement as the one, the only Yogi Berra.
OK, so the man couldn't exactly control the running game like Yadier Molina. And he's smaller now than when he played. But even the morality police have a tough time dredging up any sort of concrete case for withholding a vote for a player of this magnitude.