Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bert Blyleven: It's About Time

I've got nothing new for today, but please enjoy the following guest post on Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame, provided by supporter of this blog I realize now that I never discussed Bert's induction in this space, so feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section. 

What would you call a pitcher in today's game with a minimum of 13 wins a year for his career?   How about one that averages 11 completed games a year for his career?  What if this player during his prime was averaging over 200 strikeouts a season and had a career average of 168 strikeouts per year?  What if this same player had a career ERA of 3.31?  For many teams, this would be their ace, and in some years, this player would be the superstar of the league.  At the end of such a career, you would likely expect this player to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  Unfortunately, it took the BBWAA 14 years to induct former Twin Bert Blyleven into the Hall of Fame.  They finally got it right when they inducted the former pitching great into the hall, and it is about damn time.

Bert Blyleven was elected into the Hall of Fame earlier in the month after garnering 79.7 percent of the vote from the BBWAA.  It takes 75 percent in order to be inducted, and this honor had been a long time coming.  Blyleven won 287 games over his 22 year career, a stint that saw him throw 60 shutouts, 3,701 strikeouts, and an astounding 242 completed games.  His 3,701 strikeouts is fifth all-time.  A gambler that plays poker online would have bet on Blyleven being in the Hall before now, but that was not the case.

Sadly, a combination of factors have led to his not being inducted before now.  First, he played in an era that saw the emergence of many all-time great pitchers: Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry, Rollie Fingers, and Jim Palmer, to name a few.  Next, while Blyleven had tremendous numbers, they just weren't as impressive in many cases as some of the other greats.  He also failed to win 300 games, and for many writers, that was one of the key stats for a pitcher to get into the Hall. 

Interestingly enough, the one thing that I personally think helped Blyleven's case the most was the Steroid Era.  I realize some of you just gave me a confused look.  However, just look at some of the recent players that were up for election that would have likely made it into the Hall over Blyleven if not for steroids.  Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero and  Jeff Bagwell are the best examples of those who were left out this year either because of direct involvement with steroids or perceived involvement.  Most of the players from that era would have been better off to gamble on Texas Hold em than on steroids.

How did this help Blyleven?  There was nothing about Blyleven's career that ever even hinted that he did anything wrong.  He went out start after start and put up very good numbers.  Granted, newly popularized stats such as WHIP did indeed help his cause.  However, in a year where you had a lot of candidates that played in a questionable era, this gave the Hall the chance to put someone in that may not be up to certain writers standards, but one whose stats were above repute.


Anonymous said...

Nick, please never repost a blog like this. Shameless plugs for online poker is a pretty cheap way to make some cash, or whatever your motive is for doing this. Terrible.

Kelly Vance said...

The steroids things is nonsense. If these players did not DO steroids or PEDs their numbers wouldn't be as good as they were. So saying because they used steroids, it got Bert elected is counterfeit logic. Maybe they would not have HOF numbers if they hadn't cheated in the first place.

I think Bert was also punished because he was kind of surly sometimes.

Dave said...

erm, I have to second the first post. Having a sponsor is fine, but confine it to the top banner not the content.

Anonymous said...

Blyleven's 1973 season was the best I've seen by a Twins' pitcher. He finished 20-17 but could easily have won 30 or more with a little run support. Each time he went out I thought he might pitch a no-hitter and he came close several times. I don't think he ever came close to that level again. That season, pitching for a mediocre team, was a missed opportunity to seal his reputation. I'm glad Bert finally made it.