Jack Morris collected 198 of his 254 career victories while with the Tigers, whom he helped lead to the World Series title in 1984. (The Detroit News)
Detroit — Former Tiger Jack Morris is going to be elected into baseball's Hall of Fame.
The voting history of the Baseball Writers' Association of America makes it far more probable than possible.
Unless voters go against recent patterns, it could occur Wednesday when the totals are announced.
Morris will make it because he has reached the staging point that exists beyond the question of should he or shouldn't he? The percentage he received last year puts him in the "matter of time" category.
And here's why.
Thirteen players since 1996, the last year no one was elected, have been voted into the Hall of Fame after their first year of eligibility. Most of them worked their way through the same gauntlet as Morris.
That's not to say it took them all 14 years of eligibility — as is Morris' current status.
But it took them through some incredible ups and downs.
Morris, for instance, has twice been named on a lower percentage of ballots than the year before. Jim Rice experienced such a reversal four times before being elected.
Bert Blyleven also went through it twice. Goose Gossage once went down three years in a row.
What's more important, however, is that when you finally poke your head above 50 percent, voters don't forget you.
Those who didn't take notice earlier begin to.
If anything, they forgive you for not having the numbers that caught their attention earlier.
Gone, it appears, are the excruciating days in which Nellie Fox (in 1984) received 61 percent in his 14th year and fell two votes short at 74.7 in his 15th season.
Gil Hodges spent 11 of his 15 elections at or above 50 percent before running out of eligibility in 1983.
Orlando Cepeda almost made the jump from 59.6 percent in 1994, but fell short in his last year at 73.5 percent. Morris is much closer with two years to go than Cepeda was with one.
Since Cepeda fell short, however — only to be voted in by the Veterans Committee in 1999 — there's been an identifiable tide of sentiment that lifts contending candidates.
And it's clearly in Morris' favor.
He's in the chute now. He's going to make it. Numbers dictate that he will — if not this year, then certainly next.
"Sure I think about it," Morris said during a Tigers' visit to Minnesota last year. "I think about it a lot. I want it, this is the truth, for the people who've been in my corner all these years.
"My family, my teammates — we're not getting any younger."
Getting halfway there
This is the 50 percent factor: No player since Cepeda in 1994 who has received at least 50 percent of the vote at any point before his final year of eligibility has gone on to be denied by the writers.
Such a trend favors Jeff Bagwell and Lee Smith as well. Bagwell was at 56 percent in his second year last year and Smith was at 50.6 in his 10th.
Morris would have to bridge the gap from 66.7 percent to 75 to get there this time, but it isn't too large a gap.
Barry Larkin last year went from 62.1 percent to being elected at 86.4 percent
Andre Dawson went from 67 percent in 2009 to election at 77.9 percent in 2010.
Bruce Sutter, Ryne Sandberg, Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez all reached 75 percent from where Morris is — or lower. Sandberg, in fact, was at 61.1 percent in 2004 and climbed to 76.2 percent in 2005.
So the gap is no problem.
Neither are Morris' humble beginnings at 22.2 percent — which dropped to 19.6 percent in his second year.
Blyleven once received 14.1 percent of the vote only to climb dramatically in his last two years and be elected at 79.7 percent in 2011.
It's not that Blyleven added to his impressive strikeout total in his 15 years of waiting, it was just a matter of when he would become the candidate du jour — which he finally did.
That's the case with Morris now.
He's the returning candidate with the most votes. That usually comes with a key to the Hall.
At 64.8 percent, Rice was runner-up in his 12th year in 2006 and made it in his 15th season. Gossage was third at 64.6 percent in 2006 and made it two years later.
Morris now is in a position to ride the wave that has carried others. In the last three years, he climbed more percentage points (from 44 to 66.7 percent) than he did in his first 10.
So he needs to be close to his phone on Wednesday.
Because he might get the call.