Revisiting Jack Morris's brilliant Game 7

With Cliff Lee's next gem just around the corner, here's some e-mail about a related subject:

    Rob, I just wanted to drop you a line regarding your recent Top Ten postseason pitching performances. Interesting, naturally, but I was quite surprised you didn’t include, or even mention, Jack Morris and/or John Smoltz from Game 7 in ’91. I don’t have the stats in front of me, so I’m guessing there were more hits and less strikeouts than you’d have liked. But you even hinted at this game in your intro (on the assumption that a 1-0 win in the seventh game of a World Series against a great-hitting team is somewhat more impressive than a 6-0 win in the first game of a division series against a weak-hitting team).What other game could you have been referencing? I’m not a fan of either the Braves or the Twins, but I always thought that the small-market aura surrounding that series has kept it an afterthought when discussing classic Octobers.

    Irv (New York)

Actually, I wasn't referencing any particular game; rather, a hypothetical game. It's actually quite striking, how few of the greatest postseason performances have come in Game 7s (or in Division Series, or best-of-five League Championship Series). Looking just at Game Scores -- without any of my small adjustments -- just one of the top 38 games came in a winner-take-all situation: Sandy Koufax's three-hitter against the Twins in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. And Koufax's 88 Game Score ties him for 27th on the list (with 11 other performances, including his own ... three days earlier in Game 5).

And what of Jack Morris's brilliant Game 7. Well, because he gave up seven hits and two walks (and struck out eight), he earns an 84 Game Score. That ties him for 69th on the postseason list.

Does Morris deserve extra credit for winning the seventh game of the World Series, which was decided by one run?

Sure. I would give Morris a couple of points for the World Series, a couple of points for the seventh game, and a couple of points for the closeness of the affair (he already gets extra credit for pitching 10 innings, as that's included in his Game Score).

But that still doesn't get Morris anywhere near the top 10. The only way to do that is give him five or six points for Game 7, because that's really the only thing that distinguishes his performance from dozens of others.

Should I have done that? Not with the aim of getting Morris on the list. I generally avoid rigging my systems to favor a particular player. But if you want to argue that a guy who wins 1-0 in Game 7 deserves 10 bonus points instead of four ... Well, I don't know that I would really argue with you. I was trying to strike a balance between dominance and importance. Doesn't mean I struck the right balance.