Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Top 100: 23. Ed Morris

Edward Morris, better known as Cannonball, was a 5’7” pitcher from Brooklyn, NY. Born on September 29, 1862, the switch-hitting left-hander made his first professional appearance with the Reading Actives of the Interstate Association in 1883. In 25 starts, he went 16-6 with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.032 WHIP. Even more impressive (considering the era), he struck out 140 batters in 199.2 innings, a rate completely unheard of at the time. The Columbus Buckeyes of the major league level American Association signed him for the 1884 season, where he went 34-13 with a 2.18 ERA, a 0.898 WHIP, a league leading 7.0 hits allowed per nine innings, and an incredible 302 strikeouts in 429.2 innings. Just after the season, the Alleghenys purchased the entire Buckeyes franchise for $8000 in a deal that netted them Tom Brown, Fred Carroll, Jim Field, Rudy Kemmler, Bill Kuehne, Fred Mann, Frank Mountain, John Richmond, and Pop Smith.

In 1885, Cannonball led the AA with 63 appearances, starts, and complete games. He also led the league with 298 strikeouts, 581 innings pitched, seven shutouts, 2321 batters faced, a 0.964 WHIP, 7.110 H/9, a 12.2 WAR, and a 12.8 pWAR. He went 39-24 (AA second in wins and in losses, sixth with a .619 win percentage) with a 2.35 ERA (AA third). Although the Cy Young Award wouldn’t be awarded for another 60 or so years, Morris certainly would have qualified for his stellar season’s effort. Pittsburgh finished third in the eight team association, posting a 56-55 record.

In 1886, Cannonball led the NL with 41 wins (going 41-20 with an AA third best .672 winning percentage) in 64 games (AA third), 12 shutouts, and a 1.032 WHIP. He finished the season with 326 strikeouts (AA third), a 10.1 WAR (AA third), 10.6 pWAR (AA second), 7.374 H/9 (AA third), 1.912 BB/9 (AA second), 5.283 K/9 (AA third), and 555.1 innings pitched (AA third). The Alleghenys, at 80-57, finished the season in second place, 12 games behind the pennant winning St. Louis Browns.

1887 would see Morris go 14-22 with a 4.31 ERA. He completed 37 of 38 games with only one shutout. His strikeout rate was way down at 2.6 per nine innings, while his WHIP increased to 1.404. The Alleghenys, now part of the National League, finished sixth in the eight team league at 55-69. Still only 24 years old, it looked like Morris’ best seasons may be already behind him, but they weren’t quite.

Morris rebounded in 1888 to lead the NL with 54 complete games and with 55 starts. He went 29-23 with a resurgent 2.31 ERA, tabbing five shutouts and pitching 480 innings in total. Although he never again struck out batters at the same rate as in his earlier career, his WHIP dropped back down to 1.133. Pittsburgh again finished sixth in the league, this time at 66-68.

Believe it or not, 1889 would be Morris’ last season with the Alleghenys and with the National League. He completed 18 of his 21 starts with a 6-13 record and a 4.13 ERA. Pittsburgh limped along to a 61-71 finish, good enough for fifth in the NL.

1890 would see Morris jump ship (along with most of the team) to the new rival Players League with the Pittsburgh Burghers, going 8-7 with a 4.86 ERA. The Burghers went 60-68, finishing sixth in the league, while the Pirates struggled to a franchise worst ever 23-113 record.

All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 129-102, 2.81 ERA, 241 games, 240 starts, 235 CG, 25 shutouts, one save, 2104.0 innings pitched, 1955 hits allowed, walked 412, struck out 890, 1.125 WHIP, 28.3 wins above replacement (31.7 as pitcher, -3.4 as a hitter).

Next man up: Another recent Jason.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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