[Over the next few days, Josh and I will be discussing the Hall of Fame merits of the players on this year’s ballot for the purpose of creating our ballot for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance HoF voting.]
Nick: Is there a more discussed name on the Hall of Fame ballot right now? Blyleven pitched for 22 seasons in the big leagues, racking up wins, strikeouts, and shutouts paralleled by a only a handful of other pitchers – all of which are in the Hall of Fame.
Detractors use many arguments against Blyleven’s candidacy – he didn’t reach 300 wins, he led the league in losses with 17 in 1988, he surrendered home runs in bunches, he never won the Cy Young, he was only a two-time All Star, he only won 20 games once – and on and on.
Problem with those arguments is that even culled together into one, it’s not convincing enough for me to say Bert’s not a HOFer. Yeah, he didn’t get to 300 wins, but his 287 rank him 27th all-time. Steve Carlton led the league in losses twice, with 19 and 20. His average of 21 home runs surrendered per season is in line with similar pitchers already in the Hall of Fame, and in fact, is inflated by two particularly poor seasons – 1986 and 1987 – seasons in which he won 17 and 15 games despite the long balls. Don Sutton, Robin Roberts, Phil Niekro – no Cy Young hardware between those three either.
If Blyleven is guilty of anything, it’s that he was just consistently winning. He doesn’t have the gaudy 25-win Cy Young season on his resume – but he does have 10 seasons of 15 wins or more. He had a losing record in only 5 of his 22 seasons. He averaged – AVERAGED – 245 innings pitched for his 22 season career.
Anyway, you don’t have to let me convince you by just repeating numbers. Let Craig Calcaterra do it. Or Rich Lederer. (Scroll down at Lederer’s site and look in the left sidebar. You’ll find all the Blyleven information you want there.)
Circle me Bert! Blyleven gets my vote.
Josh: My hope is to get many of the Bert Blyleven types in the HOF someday given the ‘stats’ people will never again have a pitcher to put on a pedestal of the 300 win club (correct me if I’m on the wrong path there).
Bert and Mike Mussina never get the credit they deserve for being a complete player and that needs to be fixed this year. It is time for the voters to right a wrong and elect the pride of the Netherlands!
Then there’s the Roger Clemens elephant in the room, not going to touch that one until it’s necessary.
But you’re right, no one else is really within sniffing distance of 300 wins.
It will no doubt place an increasing importance on the peripheral statistics – which Blyleven excelled in. Traditional wins and losses may no longer suffice when evaluating pitchers beyond the four listed above.
Blyleven is on the PH8 ballot! This is no doubt one of the most talked about candidacies for Cooperstown, so please weigh in with your thoughts below.