It all started so innocently. And by "innocently", we mean "not innocently." Jon Heyman woke up in a rankling mood, and he felt like rankling people. So he tweeted this:
i love the folks who never saw jack morris pitch who are certain he isnt hall of famer bec their stat guru said so
Dustin Parkes has a plausible scenario up about how Heyman spends his day. Makes perfect sense. If riling people up is your thing, Jack Morris is a great go-to tool. Heyman did beautifully.
But it's also the kind of thing that spawns some nice research. And over at Baseball Prospectus, Colin Wyers took a quick peek at who really might have been the "pitcher of the '80s", that oft-repeated point that's often used to argue for Morris. You can go to BP for the exact methodology -- which has to do with the writers' perception of Morris at the time instead more than statistical analysis -- but you can get a pretty good idea of how it went just by looking at the company Morris is keeping:
Steve McCatty - 0.600
Tom Seaver - 0.558
Jack Morris - 0.543
John Tudor - 0.542
Mario Soto - 0.533
If you're thinking, "Say! Tom Seaver!", remember this had to do with the '80s, a decade that began with Seaver as a 35-year-old.
(As an aside: Have you stared at Seaver's Baseball-Reference page lately? It's never a bad time to do so.)
If the argument is that the younger generation just can't pick up on the nuances of Jack Morris because they weren't there, Wyers uses the BBWAA's own Cy Young voting history to suggest that the writers might not have been there either.