A lot of the drama has been sucked out of Wednesday's announcement of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class. We know with some degree of certainty that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will be elected, and we're pretty confident Frank Thomas will be joining them. The biggest questions surround the players in that 60-75% range and whether or not they'll earn election this year – Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, and the most polarizing choice of them all, Jack Morris.
The debate surrounding Morris' candidacy will end either way on Wednesday, because 2014 is his 15th and final year on the ballot. Morris will either be elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, or he'll have to wait until no earlier than the winter of 2016, when the Expansion Era committee meets again.
But while many old school sportswriters favor electing Morris, the support for him is much less robust among younger writers who favor more in-depth statistical analysis. And while you'd expect some of Morris' teammates from the 1980s and 1990s to be firmly aboard the bandwagon, some are not. One of those that isn't – second baseman Lou Whitaker, who spent his entire 19 year career with the Tigers and was a teammate of Morris' until 1990. Whitaker received just 2.9% of the Hall of Fame vote in 2001, and dropped off the ballot after only one year – one of the more egregious votes in Hall of Fame history.
During a Friday interview with MLB Network Radio, Whitaker wasn't firm in his support for Morris – especially when compared to Alan Trammell, Whitaker's long-time double play partner with the Tigers who has maxed out at 36.8% of the vote in his 12 years on the ballot.
“Jack Morris was no better than Alan Trammell-Lou Whitaker,” Whitaker said during the interview, audio of which was posted on DetroitSportsRag.com and confirmed by MLB Network Radio co-host Jim Bowden. “If we didn’t make the plays, and we didn’t come up with the big hits, Jack Morris wouldn’t be where he was, or where he is.”
“I don’t know what to say about Jack,” Whitaker said during the MLB Network Radio interview. “Jack was good, Jack was a stud in his own way. Jack Morris probably deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
“If Jack deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, Alan Trammell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Whitaker, who, himself, received just 2.9 percent of the vote in his one year on the ballot, 2001.
I don't necessarily disagree with Whitaker's sentiment here. What would Morris' career stats have looked like if he didn't have the combined seven Gold Gloves of Whitaker and Trammell up the middle? Would the Tigers have ended up winning Morris' two starts in the 1984 World Series without Trammell, who drove in five of Detroit's seven runs in those two games en route to winning World Series MVP, and Whitaker, who scored three of those seven runs?
The Morris debate will be shut down in one way or another this week, with too much ink spilled about a pitcher who is, at best, the . It's just a shame that we never got the chance to debate Whitaker because of his swiftly he was booted from the ballot, and that we never got much of a chance to debate Trammell because we were too busy yelling abut Morris, the sixth-best pitcher (at best) on this year's ballot.
Photo via SI