Based on early returns of published Hall Of Fame ballots, Jack Morris is getting support from about half of the voters who elect players to Cooperstown. Let’s be entirely honest – Morris has no case if you eliminate Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. His reputation is heavily dependent on that classic performance, a 10 inning shutout that gave the Twins the championship.
From that performance, the legend of what Morris was has grown. He was a bulldog, an ace, a true winner, and the kind of talent who shines when the spotlight is brightest. Or, at least, so his supporters will tell you. That game drastically altered the perception of what Morris was. As a human watching the game, it’s almost impossible not to get wrapped up in that kind of fairy tale performance. When his team needed him the most, he delivered.
One shining moment of greatness in October is a huge part of Morris’ candidacy. Yet, for these same writers, the performance of Edgar Martinez in the 1995 ALDS is not even considered. And I’m here to suggest that Martinez’s performance may have been even more impressive.
In Game One, the Yankees beat the Mariners 9-6, but it wasn’t for Edgar’s lack of effort. He reached base in four of his five trips to the plate, going 3 for 4 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI.
In Game Two, the Yankees would again prevail, winning 6-5 in 15 innings. Martinez went 3 for 6 with a double and a walk. Despite his hitting, the Mariners were on the verge of getting swept out of their first ever playoff appearance.
In Game Three, the Yankees decided to stop pitching to him. He was 0 for 1 with 3 walks, scoring a couple of runs as the Mariners would win 7-4 and push the series on.
In Game Four, he had his Jack Morris performance. The Mariners won 11-8, and it was almost entirely due to Martinez. He went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, the first a three run shot and the latter a grand slam in the bottom of the 8th inning that proved to be the decisive blow. John Wetteland, one of the elite closers in the game, couldn’t keep Martinez from extending the series to a final fifth game.
In Game Five, Martinez went 3 for 6 with a pair of doubles, the last of which ended the series in the 11th inning. In Seattle, it is simply known as “The Double”, and it will stand for eternity as one of the most dramatic hits in baseball history.
For the series, Martinez came to the plate 27 times and reached 18 of them. He was 12 for 21 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 10 RBIs, 6 runs scored, and 6 walks. He hit .571/.667/1.000 for the series. He had the three most important hits of the series, carrying the team to victory in Game Four and then coming up with the clutch hit to end it in Game Five.
In 5 games, two of which went into extra innings, he made a grand total of 9 outs. He destroyed Yankee pitching and was the reason the team knocked off the Bronx Bombers in 1995.
Morris’ Game 7 performance may have come on a bigger stage, but Martinez’s 1995 performance was every bit as incredibly clutch. With the whole world watching, Martinez proved that he was a dominant offensive force.
So, Morris voters who do not elect Edgar, please call MLB and get a DVD of the 1995 ALDS. Watch that series again. Experience post-season greatness in a form other than a memorable Game 7 start. Pitchers don’t have a stranglehold on amazing October performances, and you’re doing the Hall Of Fame a disservice by not using the same standard for Morris and Martinez.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.