blyleven-bert

The Hall of Fame vote for 2011 was released today, and unsurprisingly there were two names listed highlighted by the the name of Roberto Alomar, a year after he was denied entry (to all the voters who withheld their vote for Alomar because of the spitting incident, get off your flipping high horse. I'm sure none of you ever did something of questionable moral value). You can read my reasons for having not a scintilla of doubt about the inclusion of Alomar in the Hall of Fame in Who am I? The other player selected was Bert Blyleven who was finally chosen for the Hall in his 14th year on the ballot. Here are the results of the top-5 from this year's balloting (a player needs to be named on 75% of the ballots to be awarded a spot in the Hall).

Roberto Alomar: 90.0% Bert Blyleven: 79.7% Barry Larkin: 62.1% Jack Morris: 53.5% Lee Smith: 45.3%

* For the complete results you can visit The Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Two of my personal favorites failed to reach 45 percent of the votes in Jeff Bagwell (41.7%) and Tim Raines (37.5%). You can find my reasons for supporting Bagwell in HOF: The Case for Bagwell. As for Raines, I wrote a report titled simply HOF: Tim Raines. However, I've never written much about Blyleven, so I thought I would share some thoughts on his election. Some facts on Blyleven.

He was named to three All-Star teams. He won a Cy Young Award. He won 133 games in his first 10 seasons. He owns a career winning percentage of .542. He was top-10 in complete games eight times including four seasons in which he led the league. He has an ERA+ mark of 1.14 (14 percent better than the league average).

Are you ready to have your mind blown like the first time you saw The Sixth Sense? Those aren't numbers that belong to Bert Blyleven, they belong to Barry Zito. I'll give you a moment to comprehend what we are working our way up to here by giving you Blyleven's real numbers.

Blyleven was named to two All-Star games, one less than Zito. Blyleven never won a Cy Young Award (he was 3rd in 1984-85). Blyleven won 148 games his first 10 years, an average of 1.5 wins a year more than Zito. Blyleven owns a career winning percentage of .534, .008 less than Zito. Blyleven was top-10 in complete games 12 times but led the league only once. Blyleven has an ERA+ mark of 118, slightly better than Zito's 114 mark.

I think my point should be evident, should it not? I'm not saying Barry Zito should be in the Hall of Fame, but I think it's rather poignant to think that Barry Zito has been the equal of Blyleven for the first 10 seasons of his career. So I ask, is there anyone out there that thinks Zito will one day deserve to be in the Hall of Fame even if he has another 10 years like his first 10? I mean really, Bert Blyleven was inducted into the Hall of Fame for being a very good pitcher for an awfully long period of time, but when did the Hall of Fame became the domain of very good ball players?

Let me hit on Jack Morris before I leave you today. Let's compare Morris to Blyleven in some major categories and see if there are real differences between the two.

Blyleven: Two All-Star games J.Morris: Five All-Star games

Blyleven: 0.45 career shares in Cy Young voting J.Morris: 0.73 career shares in Cy Young voting

Blyleven: 287 wins, top-10 in wins six times J.Morris: 254 wins, top-10 in wins 12 times

Blyleven: .534 winning percentage, ERA+ of 118 J.Morris: .577 winning percentage, ERA+ of 105

Blyleven: Hall of Fame Monitor (120), Hall of Fame Standards (50) J.Morris: Hall of Fame Monitor (122), Hall of Fame Standards (39)

Maybe it's just me, but I certainly don't see a hell of a lot of difference between those two other than the fact that Blyleven does have a sizable strikeout lead (6.7 K/9 to 5.8 K/9). My point is that maybe all those Morris supporters will just have to remain patient as it appears that, with time, the voting body will eventually install him in the Hall of Fame.

ADDENDUM

I love the passionate response by everyone below in the Comments section (below). Love it. Wish everyone would share their thoughts more to make things interesting. My point was to cause everyone to get engaged with the topic, and they certainly did.

Let me be clear.

1- Zito is NOT a Hall of Fame pitcher. Period.

2- Zito is NOT as good as Blyleven when you take into count the overall performance of Blyleven over the course of 22 years.

I was merely stating that Zito had more Cy Young's and All-Star appearances, a better winning percentage, a better K/9 mark and was tougher to get a hit off of than Blyleven. Those are facts, and you can read whatever you would like into them, but I was just pointing out that Blyleven's efforts weren't vastly different in many respects. I never said Zito was a better pitcher.

As for Blyleven's accomplishments, they are historically substantial in terms of his overall workload which was immense (nearly 5,000 innings). The question continues to be - should we reward durability, or should the Hall of Fame be for the best players?

Think of it. Blyleven NEVER led the league in wins or ERA. He only led the league in strikeouts once and only once did he lead in WHIP. In addition, despite all his innings, he only led the league in that category twice. If I add that all up, I don't know if that's good enough for the Hall of Fame.

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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