MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Like Hodges, Morris deserves Hall induction

Right-hander's hopes ride on Veterans Committee

Like Hodges, Morris deserves Hall induction

Jack Morris never met Gil Hodges.

Too bad. They are the only players to have received at least 50 percent support in a Hall of Fame vote and not eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Like Hodges, Morris' Hall of Fame hopes are now in the hands of the Veterans Committee. Morris' next chance would appear to be in two years, when an Expansion Era ballot is next scheduled to be considered.

Unlike Hodges, Morris would seem likely to be enshrined.

Hodges made his 15th and final appearance on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot in 1983 and that year received his strongest support. He was on the ballot of 63.4 percent of the voters, 44 votes shy of election.

Morris' last appearance on the BBWAA ballot was a year ago, when he received support from 61.5 percent, his lowest total in his last three elections. He was on 67.7 percent of the ballots -- 42 votes shy -- in 2013 when he finished second to Craig Biggio, but none of the candidates received the 75 percent necessary for enshrinement.

There have been 80 players who received 50-percent support or more in a BBWAA election without reaching the 75 percent necessary for induction. Sixty-three of those players were eventually elected by the BBWAA, and 15 were voted in by the various Veterans Committees.

That leaves Hodges and Morris.

Morris has been the fall guy for those who rely solely on numbers and find no value in the "wow factor'' a player created among his peers. Morris is heavy on the wow, but statistically, other than his 3.90 ERA, he has a solid case for induction, as well. Red Ruffing, who pitched for the Red Sox and Yankees from 1924-47, had a 3.80 ERA, the highest of any current Hall of Famer.

In Bill James' similarity scores listed on Baseball-Reference.com, five of the Top 10 for Morris are Hall of Famers -- Bob Gibson, Ruffing, Amos Rusie, Burleigh Grimes and Bob Feller. James' Hall of Fame Monitor rating gives Morris a 122, which is 22 points above a likely Hall of Famer. And in the Gray Ink evaluation, which James based on how many times a player finishes in the Top 10 in various statistical categories, Morris (193) is eight points above average.

Morris is attempting to become the first Hall of Fame inductee who spent his entire career pitching against the designated hitter, which was introduced in 1973 in the American League and has proven to provide an offensive edge to AL teams by eliminating pitchers from a lineup.

Morris won 254 regular-season games, which is more than 30 of the 61 pitchers in the Hall of Fame, and his 2,478 strikeouts are more than 46 Hall of Fame pitchers. He made 14 Opening Day starts for four teams, started three All-Star Games and started Game 1 of a World Series for the Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins.

And Morris was the member of a dominant Tigers team that in 1984 opened the season winning 35 of 40 games and finished the postseason by sweeping the Royals in the AL Championship Series and disposing of the Padres in five games to win the World Series.

Since the inception of divisional play in 1969, those Tigers, the Dodgers of the strike-shortened 1981 season and the 1997 Marlins -- the first Wild Card entry to win a title -- are the only World Series champions to have had star players Hall of Fame eligible, but not inducted.

It is an oversight that now only the Veterans Committee can correct.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. He is a member of the Historical Overview Committee, which crafts the Golden Era ballot, and was on the Golden Era Committee for 2015. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.