Change-UpJanuary 06, 2010
In Which a Baseball "Expert" Asserts Jack Morris Was Better Than Curt Schilling
By Patrick Sullivan

I tend to think this medium is best left to its originators but I couldn't resist FJM'ing Dan Shaughnessy's latest "effort" for It's so devoid of logic, so arrogant, so venomous towards those of us that like to think about the game, that I wanted to have a look at the column bit by bit and present it here at Baseball Analysts.

Fortunately, we expect the mood to pick up around here later today when the 2010 HOF class is announced. The latest BBTF vote tracker, through 118 ballots, has our guy Bert Blyleven trending above the 75% threshold. Let's cross our fingers.

Onto Shaughnessy...


Baseball's 2010 Hall of Fame class will be announced on Wednesday, and I'm betting that Edgar Martinez comes up short in his first year of eligibility for Cooperstown. Edgar presents voters with a unique choice because he is the first candidate who compiled virtually all of his resume as a designated hitter.

This article is off to a great start. Edgar does present a tough choice. He didn't rack up a ton of plate appearances by Hall standards, and all of his value is derived from his hitting, so I am assuming we can anticipate an interesting discussion on just how good that hitter should be in order to be considered Hall-worthy as a DH.

In 18 seasons, all with the Seattle Mariners, Edgar batted .312 with an on-base percentage of .418 and a slugging percentage of .515. This makes him one of 20 players in hardball history with lifetime numbers over .300, .400 and .500, respectively. He has a higher on-base percentage than Stan Musial, Wade Boggs and Mel Ott. He is one of only eight players with 300 homers, 500 doubles and the aforementioned .300/.400/.500 line. He won a couple of batting titles and was an All-Star seven times.

Oh ok, I see where you’re going. Edgar is SO good as a hitter, that you probably have to put him in. .300/.400/.500 over a whole career is a pretty special accomplishment.

He stayed with the same team for his entire career, so there would be no controversy regarding which logo to put on his Hall cap.

Crisp writing. Way to stay on point. It's essential that we think about "Hall cap", particularly in the free agent era, as we decide which ballplayers merit consideration for the game’s most prestigious honor.

The Mariners have campaigned madly for Edgar and it pains me to withhold my vote, but I just can't bring myself to put him in Cooperstown alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Nobody cares at all that it “pains” you, Dan. Nobody.

And you know what, nobody is asking you to put him alongside Williams, Ruth or Gehrig. They’re three of the absolute very best of all time. Put him alongside Kirby Puckett and Tony Perez.

If I squint here, I think Dan is saying he’s a “small hall” guy. That would be fine. It really would. A Hall of Fame that enshrines fewer players, as Sky demonstrated yesterday, would be great. But Dan, not only did you vote Jim Rice in, but you were like Chuck Norris to John McCain, touting Rice's candidacy at every opportunity for what seemed like a full decade. You can’t – CAN’T – be a “small hall” proponent and also advocate for baseball’s 258th best position player of all time. It’s a complete joke.

I have been a Hall voter for more than 25 years and it's the most important task assigned to the baseball writers of America. In recent years the Hall ballot has become heavier as voters are asked to make character judgments regarding players who may have padded their statistics with illegal and/or banned substances.

There's no problem with Edgar in this area. He was never tainted by the scourge of steroids, and he retired with an impeccable reputation, on and off the field.

Funny story: Tainted by the Scourge is actually the name of a Worcester garage band Dan followed around Central Massachusetts during his days at Holy Cross.

I just don't think he's a Hall of Famer, and that doesn't make him less than great. It doesn't take away his numbers. I like Dwight Evans, Dale Murphy, Alan Trammell and Andre Dawson, but I don't think they're Hall of Famers, either.

Oh, well ok. I happen to agree on all but Trammell (although I struggle badly with Dewey) but that's cool, sounds like you've been thoughtful about this. Interesting stuff. I’m eager to learn more about your thought process. These guys don't measure up to your standard and it's your ballot so hey, tell me about your standard.

Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to define what was pornographic, "but I know it when I see it.''

/falls off chair

Indeed. Hall of Famers, just like pornography! Except, no. Just, no. You DON’T know it when you see it. Branch Rickey didn’t know it when he saw it. Robinson Cano LOOKS like a Hall of Famer to me. Sweet, powerful swing. Smooth and athletic in the field. But he’s not! He might yet become one, but I know he’s not because I can check his performance record and note that his does not stack up to others in the HOF. If I didn't know more about his numbers and that he hadn't played long enough, and I had the same standard of "knowing it when I see it" then I might conclude Cano was, right now, a Hall of Famer.

For me, it's the same with Hall of Famers. Some guys just strike you as Cooperstown-worthy and others do not. Edgar Martinez was a very fine hitter, but I never said to myself, "The Mariners are coming to Fenway this weekend. I wonder how the Sox are going to pitch to Edgar Martinez?''

YOU might not have said that but why don't you talk to Red Sox advance scouts? Because I am positive they agonized over it.

But there you have it, this is Dan’s standard. At this point, given how much we know about what makes a baseball player good, isn’t this just criminal. Isn’t this the very height of arrogance. Stat folks are often criticized for being arrogant themselves, but isn’t it the person that says “it is because I know it to be” who’s arrogant? Not the person who arrives at some sort of logical, objective and defensible conclusion based on reason?

I want to revisit a Bill James quote I used in a piece about Shaughnessy last year to reinforce this point:

"Virtually all sportswriters, I suppose, believe that Jim Rice is an outstanding player. If you ask them how they know this, they'll tell you that they just know; I've seen him play. That's the difference in a nutshell between knowledge and bullshit; knowledge is something that can be objectively demonstrated to be true, and bullshit is something that you just 'know.' If someone can actually demonstrate that Jim Rice is a great ballplayer, I'd be most interested to see the evidence."

Thanks, Bill! And great timing, because guess who Dan's going to bring up next?!?!

It was different with players like Eddie Murray and Jim Rice. They were feared. Murray got into Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility (thanks to 500 homers, no doubt), while it took Rice 15 years to finally get the required 75 percent of votes.

But what about Eddie Murray’s cap? So many teams!

Anyway, Murray and Rice were feared, but Edgar Martinez was not. That’s Shaughnessy’s point. Let's pretend this makes any sense at all - this "fear" stuff. The best way I can think to measure it is by the intentional walk.

Murray was walked intentionally 222 times (once every 57 plate appearances), an incredible figure. As a switch hitter who played for a very long time and had a ton of plate appearances, this isn’t too surprising. Beyond being a good hitter, Murray presented opposing managers late-inning bullpen match-up problems.

Edgar was intentionally walked 113 times (once every 77 plate appearances). Martinez hit in some stacked Mariner lineups though, with the likes of Ken Griffey, Jr., A-Rod, Jay Buhner, Tino Martinez, Paul Sorrento and others. It’s a respectable total, but one that was influenced downward by the excellent hitters surrounding Edgar. Remember, Roger Maris wasn’t walked intentionally once in 1961.

As for Rice, his career total of 77 intentional free passes (once every 118 plate appearances) places him tied for 180th all time. Among others, Geoff Jenkins and Terry Pendleton are tied with Rice.

So I would say it’s best not to use the “feared” argument at all, because once you start to investigate the claim in any meaningful way, you end up with a lot of information pulling you in different directions. Directions like the exact opposite one you're hoping for when you argue that Rice was a HOF'er because he was "feared."

Both were feared sluggers who spent a lot of time in the field before becoming DHs as elder statesmen.

But there you go again! With the “feared”! You just can’t help yourself! Why don’t we keep it simple? AVG/OBP/SLG – OPS+ - Plate Appearances

Murray: .287/.359/.476 – 129 – 12,817
Rice: .298/.352/.502 – 128 – 9,058
Edgar: .312/.418/.515 – 147 – 8,672

Ding Edgar for no defense. Ding him for not enough plate appearances, but good grief, admit he was a much, much better hitter than both Eddie Murray and Jim Rice!

This year I voted for Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris.

I guess that’s good. Two of the three are deserving but there are some glaring omissions.

Alomar goes down as one of the greatest second basemen of all time and was the best at his position for just about the entire time he played. This is his first year on the ballot and I think he'll be the top vote-getter in the class of 2010.

Sure, ok.

Blyleven has been on the ballot for 13 years and may come up short again, but he won 287 games, ranks fifth all-time in strikeouts and compiled a 3.31 ERA over 22 seasons, pitching for a lot of bad ball clubs.

Yeah, you got it.

Morris won 254 games in 18 seasons and pitched one of the greatest World Series games of all time, a 10-inning, 1-0 Game 7 victory over the Braves in 1991. There's already support for Boston blowhard Curt Schilling, who won't be on the ballot for another three years, but Morris has to get in before Schilling gets in. Morris was better.

We're going to pause here so that everyone can appreciate this. Jack Morris is better than Curt Schilling. Let that sink in for a moment.

Here’s a man who covers baseball for a living. Think of what you do for a living, how you have trained to come to understand what you need to in order to carry out your job well. How you strive to learn as much as you can so that you can perform to the best of your abilities.

And now ponder for a moment what it must be like to spend your career working in baseball, to laying claim to and having others bestow upon you some measure of expertise. And you assert that Jack Morris was better than Curt Schilling. I get Dan's schtick, but it's just so beyond the pale.

Curt Schilling was a career 127 ERA+ pitcher with a 4.38 K/BB ratio in 3,261 innings. Jack Morris was a career 105 ERA+ pitcher with a 1.78 K/BB ratio in 3,824 innings. The innings difference is not insignificant, but those innings amount to an additional 563 frames of 6.46 ERA ball. Like, two or three full seasons of Adam Eaton. If you place a lot of stock in peripherals, a stat like K/BB, then although Schilling might be lacking in longevity compared to other Hall performers, he is still one of the best of all time. Jack Morris is kind of like Livan Hernandez or Tim Wakefield.

As for their post-season performance, Morris was 7-4 with a career 3.80 ERA in the playoffs. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA.

Now, you’re a Sports Editor. You like Shaughnessy because he’s plucky and he attracts readers because he appeals to some segment of sports fans I'll never understand while irritating another segment. But at what point does self-respect come into play? At what point do you say to yourself, “Enough’s enough. It reflects too poorly on my organization and me professionally to continue to provide this guy a forum”? Does that point ever arrive? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but with the likes of Joe Posnanski and Rob Neyer and Keith Law furthering their march into the mainstream, that day’s coming a lot sooner than Dan Shaughnessy may think. It's simply preposterous to lay any claim whatsoever to baseball expertise and simultaneously hold that Jack Morris was better than Curt Schilling. It's irreconcilable.

The toughest omissions this year were Dawson, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff ... and Edgar.

But not Raines or Trammell. And certainly not McGwire, what with his taint of the scourge and all.

A lifetime .312 average is impressive and Edgar's OPS puts him in an elite class. But he wasn't a home run hitter (309), he couldn't carry a team, he didn't scare you, and (sorry) he rarely played defense. Edgar spent a couple of years at third for the M's in the early 1990s before taking over as full-time DH.

Two facts (a lifetime .312 average IS impressive, his OPS DOES put him in an elite class) and then meaningless and/or counter-factual assertions. He "wasn't a home run hitter" with "309" listed parenthetically. How does one amass 309 home runs without being a "home run hitter"?

"He couldn't carry a team." Good grief, well who can? 9 players HAVE to come to the plate! "He didn't scare you." He didn't scare who! You?! Why should he?! So dumb. So very dumb. Ask Andy Pettitte (career 1.132 OPS vs Edgar) or Bartolo Colon (1.049) or Chris Carpenter (1.183) if Edgar scared THEM!

The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime, no doubt will be able to demonstrate that Edgar was better than Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. I'm not buying. Stats don't tell the whole story. A man can drown in three feet of water.

Nope, nobody has said he was even close to as good as either of those players. And really, who sucks the joy out of baseball? The fan eager to enhance his or her understanding of the game or the sportswriter who trusts his eye/gut over any sort of elementary performance metics? Oh, hold on, I know, it's the third option; it's the writer who has built his career by being a know-nothing instigator. THAT guy sucks the joy out of the sport.

Edgar Martinez was a fine hitter and got on base a lot. But he was a corner infielder who didn't hit a lot of homers and then he became a guy who spent the majority of every game watching from the bench.

You know who else spends the majority of the games behind the bench? EVERY SINGLE PITCHER EVER VOTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME! But really, great point.


Ok, that's done with. Hopefully Baseball Analysts readers for whom Rich Lederer's tireless work advocating for Bert Blyleven's candidacy has resonated can stop back later on today and we can all toast some good news. And to end on a positive note with Dan himself, given that he cast a vote for Bert, he will have had a hand in that potential bit of good news. So at least there's that!


Thank you.

I read Dan's garbage yesterday and couldn't believe that someone who has watched baseball for so long can know so little about it. Morris is better than Schilling? Rice is better than Edgar? People who look at (even basic) stats need to get a life, yet Dan refers to some stats like OPS in his discussion. How does this make any sense?

What a hack.

(And does he realize that with a SLG over .500, the homerun total is basically irrelevant? Does he know how SLG is even calculated?)

What I find most hilarious about Edgar's candidacy is that, judging by the quotes and comments of players (and managers) that actually faced him, he was one of the most "feared" hitters in the game.

Guess it raises the question whether it's better to be feared by sportswriters than by the players themselves.

Well done, Mr. Sullivan.

Here's Edgar not carrying the Mariners in 1995, when Junior missed half the season.

Opening Day-5/26: 27 games, .263/.387/.505
5/27-8/14: disabled list, wrist.
8/15-playoff game: 45 games, .255/.374/.466

OD-5/26: 27 games, .354/.436/.604
5/27-8/14: 73 games, .361/.505/.627
8/15-playoff game: 45 games, .350/459/.644

Whatta lollygagger.

Martinez finished third in the MVP voting, behind winner Mo Vaughn and Albert Belle. Had I a ballot, my order would have been Martinez-Belle-maybe Vaughn.

wounds like he's angry at "stat geeks" for knowing more about baseball than he does!
what a (willfully) ignorant loser.

I am not convinced that Martinez belongs in the Hall, but the Schilling/Morris comparison is comical, mostly because Morris' great claim to fame is that he was a big game pitcher, primarily for his 10 inning masterpiece. Except Schilling has equally impressive postseason games on his resume and a dominant postseason track record. It just looks like Shaughnessy's personal dislike for Schilling (who to casual observers, does seem a bit like a pompous ass) has colored his view.

Anybody that even casual follows the Red Sox know that Shaugnessy and CHB don't like each other. Shaughnessy is a joke.

Anybody that even casual follows the Red Sox know that Shaugnessy and Schilling don't like each other. Shaughnessy is a joke.

Actually this post sent me over to Retrosheet, to do a superficial comparison of Schilling's lifetime record, (Hits, Ks, BBs, IP, wins and ERA) with those of Pedro Martinez and Mike Mussina. All three will be considered for the HoF but are not automatic inductees. All three are well known to the casual fan through the Red Sox -Yankees battles of the noughts.

Superficially, the records are quite similar, with the biggest difference in ERA. Martinez by far has the best lifetime ERA of the three, followed by Schilling and then Mussina. Moose has more innings pitched and wins. He just falls under three thousand strikeouts, the other two have just more than three thousand strikeouts and seem to do better in WHIP.

I get the impression that all three are better pitchers than Jack Morris. I would actually put Schilling in the Hall over Martinez and Mussina because of his big game record.

And the cap really is important. The cap should be the team for which the inductee has played the plurality of games. Period. I never understood why MLB never made this ruling.

Shank is and always will be a hack. Boston sports fans know to avoid his articles, particularly online. Don't give the guy one more page view than you have to. His schtick is to antogonize Boston sports fans enough to make them read and react to his articles. So clearly I didn't read this particular gem, but appreciate the summary and your flaming of our local embarrasment Patrick. Thanks.

I think Sully ought to be the Red Sox beat writer instead of that hack Shaughnessy.

Love the FJM attitude. Did you guys see's Cameron's piece about Edgar's big game playoff performance? Looks like Edgar was pretty feared to me and for good reason.

Pedro is one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. He's not even in the discussion with guys like Mussina and Schilling.

Had the Twins lost that seventh game in '91, would he still be making the claim of Morris' superiority?

I just counted some cities covered by members of BBWAA. There were 141 covering New York. There were 17 covering Cleveland. Herre is the badge list:

Does anybody else sense a tiny bit of geographical bias there?

I will never understand why a greater understanding of something is somehow antithetical to whatever amount of joy that something is supposed to provide. Since when did ignorance become a gateway to joyousness? My appreciation of the game is only enhanced by a greater understanding of the performance metrics, but what do I know? I'm one of the unwashed masses.

"Had the Twins lost that seventh game in '91, would he still be making the claim of Morris' superiority?"

Chris - conversely, if Morris had lost 1-0 in ten innings - say on an unearned run - would it suddenly make his performance in that game terrible? Would CHB then say that Morris failed in the clutch and talk about John Smoltz as like unto a Koufax?

sadly we cannot "all toast some good news." Blyleven was snuffed again...

Blyleven came close, though. 74.2%, which hopefully means that he and Alomar will be inducted next year... a year after Dawson and two years after Rice. Sigh...

So many deserving people are unemployed in this country, yet this moron has a job. Life is truly unfair.

Wow. 5 votes short. My condolences. And by the way, I'm shocked Alomar wasn't first ballot. I know he didn't make 3,000 hits, but sheesh.

If Martinez had worn a Red Sox uni, this schmuck would've been a spokesperson for "Edgar for the Hall" campaign.


Hi Patrick,

agree with most of this post, but I think some of the stick that the writers get needs to be toned down.

Remember eyes on the prize (Blyleven 2011).

Proportionally he needs 5 more + to keep what he has. Heaping vitriol on those who are already voting for him won't help. It will not only hurt Bert chances, but those super-saber ballerplayers who are the next projects (Raines/Edgar). We want to seel these guys not just 1 underappreciated used car (Bert) but a few more.

The voter got the 1st 2 choices right, (Alomar + Blyleven,), then overindulges with his Schilling arguments for supporting Morris. Obvious ammo for a negative post, but whay not frame it as a positive one? 'actually Dan, Curt was a lot better than you seem to realise')

At least he voted for Blyleven as well (as opposed to those who vote Morris but no Blyleven).

The point is, win the war and don't get bogged down in the battles. The ballot is going to get very crowded soon, and deserving guys like Raines/Edgar will need all the goodwill they can get to even stay on the ballot soon.

@Paul - No "war" - this was nothing more than coming across this specific article and being blown away by its stupidity and arrogance.

@Devin - That's really well said.

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

If you want to argue that Edgar's limited Plate Apps, combined with his lack of contribution in the field mean he fall short of the Hall, Your probably wrong, but you have a very valid argument.

To frame it that he was not a good enough hitter is rediculous.

The fact he was only 1 year (1995) the best player on his team is what I think confuses clowns like this. 3/4 of the players in that Hall would be the 4th best Mariner in 1998 (Griffey, Rodriguez and Johnson are inner circel HOFers)

Not to Dan, there is baseball played outside of the North East.

I'm almost tempted to say this is a good thing, and I live in Boston and have to be subjected to even more of Shaughnessy's crap than the national fan.

But seriously. Think about how big a jump Blyleven has made in the last few years. Think about how insanely different the understanding of the public of baseball knowledge was fourteen years ago. Now realize that Edgar has 14 years for people to understand, 14 years of smart writing, 14 years of people pointing out that he was drastically better than a lot of guys who did "play defense" both as a hitter and because some of those guys "playing defense" are producing negative defensive value relative to a replacement level defender.

They will learn. There is time. This kind of nonsense makes the willfully stupid piss themselves in glee, but makes the 80% in the middle think about who they actually want to listen to.

This may be a good thing.

For what it's worth, this Orioles fan was quite afraid of Edgar Martinez.

I'm not a stat guy, but I believe Rice still holds the single season for GIDPs.

One more thing. I always thought that Curse of the Bambino was a bunch of stupid bullshit. The Red sox were the very last team to get a black player. 1959.

One thing I'm hearing....if you're big, black and unhappy looking, you scare pitchers and should be in the Hall of Fame.

On Edgar Martinez: he was feared, respected and dignified. The complete professional. But he was a DH. Defensive baseball is important and requires skill, strength and intelligence, although it is less well suited to statistical analysis (which is why, I think, it is often disregarded by stat professionals).
EM batting stats are impressive, but not good enough to overcome the DH factor. Please refer to Tom Verducci´s column, he sheds some light on the subject (
You have to think that Dawson destroyed his knees (they still hurt) playing outfield in Montreal to appreciate what I´m saying.
Anyway, I think EM was better than Murray and Rice, as the stats show. But to be a HOFer he should have, say, Manny Ramirez´ numbers.

On PED´s: indications for the prescription of drugs such as Steroids and HGH are strictly limited by law to a few medical conditions. Therefore dealing on these substances and using them outside proper indications is illegal. What MLB said at the time, whether it "tolerated" PED´s or not, is irrelevant. Therefore, the players that used PED´s obtained an illegal advantage over the ones who didn´t. As great as Bonds, Clemens and Palmeiro were, I hope they never enter the HOF. Statistics are based on the assumption that similar situations are amenable to numeric analysis expressed in standardized parameters. If a baseball player has a hidden advantage (e.g he has increased muscular mass and thus a faster bat thanks to steroids) then this internal consistency disappears and stats lose its validity.

The "I know it when I see it" argument: baseball is not a science, it´s not even scientific. It´s a game. Yes, you get to know a lot with stats, but what you see is still important. E.g Blyleven has better WARP than Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer. Would you say he was, in any way, the better pitcher of the four? As you increase the complexity of stat indexes, they become more and more malleable, until you can practically always find an index that will prove your hypothesis, if you use it well. That´s why Verducci uses OPS to say EM was "not good enough" while P. Sullivan uses it to say EM was outstanding. Correlating the numbers with what you see, what you hear (from other players, managers, etc) is extremely important. If you want a purely numerical game I suggest you quit baseball and start analysing dominoes.

"Stats folks" are actually arrogant (as well as quite a few "I-saw-it" folks) because they seem to conclude they have captured the essence of a game that has imponderable, intangible and unquantifiable factors. If "knowledge is something that can be objectively demonstrated to be true, and bullshit is something that you just 'know.'" then religion is bona fide bullshit (I am not religious, but I respect people who are). And 99% of scouting reports on rookies are bullshit, because they are not based on stats but observation. And almost every Negro League HOF induction is based on bullshit.

On Joy: joy is an individual experience. I don´t think stats suck the joy out of anything, but I do say, for me, the joy of watching the game as a child was, in many ways, more pure, more intense, than the joy I may get from realising that Bert Blyleven´s WARP is remarkable. I repeat, that´s me. Many other fans go crazy over numbers, and that´s also good. Vizquel was a joy to behold at SS, while Trammel was not (although he was very good, of course). We could argue forever who was best, and maybe that´s one of the joys of baseball. If it went 100% "gut feeling" or 100% "numbers" then baseball would become boring, joyless and not worth following.

Geez... Blowhard38 and CHB... go get a room or something!

Patrick, I completely agree with anyone who calls out Shaughnessy for being a know nothing blowhard. I am not a stathead and appreciate those who claim to have a "feel" for the game but Shaughnessy is an embarassment to anyone who ever actually thought about the game. He should be sent to a NY radio sports talk show where he can suck the fun of the game out of people who don't have any already.