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  • Bert Blyleven

    Simply put, what is it that keeps this man out of the HOF?
    129
    Yes
    93.02%
    120
    No
    6.98%
    9
    Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

  • #2
    You can look through the various threads supporting Blyleven's candidacy. A few theories have been thrown out. He doesn't have a stellar W-L record, he never was considered the best pitcher or among the very best pitchers in baseball, he gave up too many home runs, or the writers took his practical jokes too personally. Take your pick.

    It's not so much he hasn't gotten in yet, but his relative lack of support, that really bothers me.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Captain Cold Nose
      he never was considered the best pitcher or among the very best pitchers in baseball
      I think this is the main thing. He was overshadowed during his long career by pitchers who were clearly better (Seaver, Palmer, Clemens, Carlton, Ryan), and often by pitchers of comparable quality who were more prominent for any of a number of reasons (Niekro, Perry, Catfish, Sutton). He never had that one really flashy season to hang his hat on (as many of those guys did). He played on several teams, in mostly relatively obscure media markets like Minnesota, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Texas. He only had two All-Star appearances (this is really something that should be devalued for pitchers, because selections are so contingent on availability to pitch, composition of the staff, etc.) His curveball wasn't as awe-striking as Ryan's fastball or Carlton's slider, nor as entertainingly quirky as Niekro's knuckler, nor as charmingly roguish as Perry and Sutton's, um, "hard sinkers".

      All of these factors hurt him in the "I knows them when I sees them" segment of the BBWAA electorate, which is a large one.

      Comment


      • #4
        blyleven

        were his practical jokes that bad?

        how much weight do people give a guy for being the best at one major thing in their prime? I heard Blyleven threw the best curveball of his day. how important is that in valuing the guy's career?

        how about the great practitioners of other pitches, like sliders, screwballs, drop balls (sinkers?), split-finger, knuckleball? change? where do they stand in terms of recognition?

        Pete Rose said the hardest pitch to hit is a "super spitter, like Gaylord Perry's."

        is the best curve the equivalent of being the best bunter, for instance? best outfield arm? the curve plays a big role, doesn't it?

        what is average speed for a good knuckleball?
        Why you do this to me, Dimi?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bushrod

          how much weight do people give a guy for being the best at one major thing in their prime? I heard Blyleven threw the best curveball of his day. how important is that in valuing the guy's career?

          how about the great practitioners of other pitches, like sliders, screwballs, drop balls (sinkers?), split-finger, knuckleball? change? where do they stand in terms of recognition?

          what is average speed for a good knuckleball?
          I don't know that you give something like that all that much weight. Andy Pettite has arguably the greatest pickoff move of all time, but let's not all get up at once to usher him into the Hall of Fame.

          Some pitchers take their mastery of a pitch, like Carl Hubbell's screwball or Mariano Rivera's cutter, and turn it into a mastery of a league. Blyleven never really did that. He turned mastery of a pitch into a pretty good career, but not a great career. And, as has been said before, it's not the Hall of Pretty Good.

          As for knuckleballs... mostly around the 70's, I believe. Though the Texas Rangers have a pitcher named R.A. Dickey who throws what I swear to God looks like a 90 mph knuckler. I was flabbergasted the first time I saw him pitch, and thought it must be some kind of splitter or forkball, but the slow motion replays showed exactly zero rotational inertia on the balls, and the radar gun was hitting 90 mph. Incredible.
          "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

          Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

          Comment


          • #6
            super knuckler

            How is Dickey doing with that super knuckler? I'll look it up. that sounds like something in violation of the Geneva Baseball Convention. I'll bet some batters have taken a look and just laughed at the stuff they have to try to hit.
            Why you do this to me, Dimi?

            Comment


            • #7
              Blyleven All-Star fact

              I can't find the thread where this was mentioned, but an anti-Blyleven guy used Bert's All-Star appearances (2) as an argument against him.

              The argument was, he only made two All-Star teams, 1973 and 1985, and he only made the second All-Star team because the Indians had to send the representative.

              Well, in 1985, Blyleven started the All-Star game, which he certainly wouldn't have done if he were a mere placeholder for the Cleveland franchise. The truth is, Bert was recognized as one of baseball's best pitchers by then.

              Just stumbled upon that little fact, and wanted to blow that argument out of the water, even at this late date.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ok, you can blow that argument out of the water... but what about the argument that he just wasn't very good?
                "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ElHalo
                  Ok, you can blow that argument out of the water... but what about the argument that he just wasn't very good?
                  Was that you who made that argument? Sounds like you.

                  Anyway, I don't feel like completely refighting the Blyleven war. If you can explain to me how a guy can get 60 shutouts, 287 wins, and 3701 K's without being "very good", I'll concede.

                  Furthermore:

                  The 60 SHO are #9 all time. Post WWII, only Spahn, Seaver and Ryan have more.

                  The 3701 K's are #5 all time, and no one is passing him this decade, at least.
                  Last edited by Cougar; 06-30-2004, 12:13 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think Blyleven just had some rotten luck getting wins. If he had 13 more, there wouldn't be any question about his hall of fame chances. 13 out of the first 16 seasons of his career, he posted an ERA under 3.50, and an ERA of 3.00 or lower a pretty amazing 10 times in those 16 seasons (plus one more in his third to last, so 11 times he posted an ERA of 3.00 or lower). Yet, despite his regularly low ERA, which was well below the league averages, he had an inordinate amount of losses and no decisions. This shows that he was unlucky - he consistently pitched well but his teams just didn't win as many games as they should have when he was on the mound. He was definitely a much better pitcher than his 250 losses suggest. So if not for his poor luck, he should have won a bunch more of those 250 losses, won 20 games a bunch of times, and been well over 300 for his career and thus an unquestioned hall of famer.

                    Here's a look at his ERA relative to the league and the mediocre records he amassed year after year despite a usually very good ERA.

                    1970: 3.18 (+117), 10-9
                    1971: 2.81 (+127), 16-15
                    1972: 2.73 (+118), 17-17
                    1973: 2.52 (+158), 20-17
                    1974: 2.66 (+142), 17-17
                    1975: 3.00 (+129), 15-10 (10 no decisions!)
                    1976: 2.87 (+125), 13-16
                    1977: 2.72 (+151), 14-12
                    1978: 3.03 (+123), 14-10 (10 no decisions!)
                    1979: 3.60 (+108), 12-5 (20 no decisions!)
                    1980: 3.82 (95), 8-13 (11 no decisions!) - first time above league average
                    1981: 2.88 (+126), 11-7
                    1982: Injured, only made 4 starts
                    1983: 3.91 (+108), 7-10
                    1984: 2.87 (+142) 19-7
                    1985: 3.16 (+134) 17-14
                    1986: 4.01 (+108) 17-14 - first ERA over 4, but still below league average
                    1987: 4.01 (+116) 15-12 (10 no decisions!)
                    1988: 5.43 (75), 10-17
                    1989: 2.73 (+140), 17-5 (11 no decisions!)

                    Basically, I think that Blyleven is one of the unluckiest pitchers of all time. Only once did he really have a record anywhere remotely indicative of how good a starting pitcher he was (1984, 19-7, 2.87 ERA). For over 15 years, he was a very good to great pitcher, far better than his mediocre record, littered with losses and no decisions, would suggest. Plus his career ERA+ is better than hall of famers such as Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Robin Roberts, Fergie Jenkins, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, Early Wynn, Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, Red Ruffing, Waite Hoyt, Jesse Haines, Rube Marquad, Pud Galvin, Jack Chesbro, Chief Bender, Ted Lyons, and is the same as the great Warren Spahn; not to mention that when he retired he had struck out the 3rd most hitters ever. So to me, Blyleven is without a doubt a hall of famer, he just had a career littered with a consistent rotten luck.
                    Last edited by DoubleX; 06-30-2004, 03:09 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cougar
                      Was that you who made that argument? Sounds like you.

                      Anyway, I don't feel like completely refighting the Blyleven war. If you can explain to me how a guy can get 60 shutouts, 287 wins, and 3701 K's without being "very good", I'll concede.
                      Nah, that wasn't me that made that argument. I never really got into it, because I felt kind of indifferent to the whole subject.

                      Bert Blyleven never led his league in ERA, never led his league in W, never led his league in K rate, never led his league in BB rate, never led his league in BAA... he was very good, but not great, for a very long time. That, to me, doesn't scream "Hall of Fame." He had two seasons with ERA+'s over 150, at 151 and 158... compare that to decidedly non-HoF pitcher Bret Saberhagen, who also had two seasons with ERA+'s over 150... a 152 and a 178.

                      I'm just not impressed by above average players who stick around forever. Doesn't get the juices flowing. His longevity and mediocrity can be seen pretty clearly by his high grey ink total (22nd all time) and low black ink total (16th all time). The year he started the All Star game, he finished 5th in the AL in ERA. 5th is ok, I guess... but it's not Hall calibre. Sorry, but high counting stats don't mean a single thing to me. That's just indicitave of a talent to not get injured and an ability to withstand dimunition of skills... neither of which are things which make a player great. Talent is what makes a player great... and while Blyleven had some, he didn't have enough to make the Hall.
                      "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                      Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        El Halo, you didn't address my point that Blyleven's ERA+ is equal to or better than at least 20 hall of famers. Almost all of Blyleven's stats suggest that his record should have been markedly better than it actually was. He should have been a 300 game winner and a multiple 20 game winner, luck just wasn't on his side. A guy with an ERA consistently under 3 and posting 200+ Ks should not lose 15+ games year after year. Plus in 6 seasons he had at least 10 no decisisons. The guys record suffered from bad luck, not from his talent.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Based on Keith Woolner's method, Blyleven is the 11th best pitcher using career numbers and the 34th best based on peak.

                          http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...articleid=1604

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ElHalo
                            Bert Blyleven never led his league in ERA, never led his league in W, never led his league in K rate, never led his league in BB rate, never led his league in BAA
                            Of course El Halo is selectively omiting the fact that he did lead his league in Ks once and in ERA+ once.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dgarza
                              Of course El Halo is selectively omiting the fact that he did lead his league in Ks once and in ERA+ once.
                              Well, duh, I'm not going to argue against myself.

                              As to him having a good ERA+ (DoubleX, I wasn't trying to ignore your post, it just went up while I was typing mine, so I didn't see it)...

                              Of the guys you've listed, I'd say that Ryan, Chesbro, Carlton, Roberts, Bunning, Bender, and Spahn are deserving HoF'ers... the rest of the guys you listed, in my opinion, are not. Since they don't belong in the HoF, whether they're better or worse than Blyleven is irrelavent, and so I'll only argue the other guys.

                              Ryan's a deserving HoF'er because of his tremendous strikeout credentials, his propensity for no hitters, his unparalelled longevity (longevity normally doesn't count much for me, but when you can stick around as long as Ryan did, and still be an effective player, that's impressive), and his best ever career batting average against. That much being said, he's a horrifically overrated pitcher, and isn't a first tier HoF'er by any stretch of the imagination.

                              Steve Carlton... true, he has a lower OPS+ than Blyleven, but he also has 4 Cy Young awards, which is 4 more than Blyleven. He also has an ERA title and 5 strikeout titles, but the 4 Cy Youngs is really the clincher. 4 seperate times, he was seen as the best pitcher in his league... an honor Blyleven never had bestowed upon him. You gotta beat the best to be the best. Note, though: I'm not as high as a lot of people are on Carlton and Ryan... ordinarily I'd be on the other side of the argument about them. But they both beat Blyleven.

                              Chesbro. He's in almost solely on the strength of his 1904 season, and I'm ok with that. Winning 41 games in a season in the modern era, on 51 starts, with the best BAA in the league and the fourth best ERA despite throwing up a league best 455 innings (second place had 390)... that's pretty impressive. I'd be willing to go so far as to say that the numbers that Chesbro put up that season are more impressive than the sum total of the career accomplishments of several pitchers in the Hall. But then, I am like that... I'm much more impressed with isolated years of brilliance than long stretches of adequacy.

                              Bunning. You know, I can't make an overly compelling Jim Bunning case for the HoF right now. Maybe I'm too tired. Most of my admiration for Bunning comes from his perfect game against the Mets and the fact that, from 1964 to 1967, he managed to stay in the top 5 in the league in ERA every year despite the fact that Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Gibson, etc. were in the league.

                              Roberts. You see, ordinarily, when I argue about Robin Roberts, it's accentuating the negatives to show that Whitey Ford was better than him. This is new for me, arguing pro-Roberts. Robin Roberts was one of the best pitchers in history at avoiding BB's, having led the league in the category 4 times, and having finished in the top 3 every year from 1951-1960 (with a fourth place finish in 1950). His career total of 1.73 BB/9 innings is kind of hard to fathom. Mostly, though, just look at the ink totals: 16/239 for Blyleven, 64/249 for Roberts. Not even close. Roberts finished in the top 7 of the MVP voting 5 times, including 4 straight years. Blyleven, .... crickets...

                              And at last we get to the only guys on the list that I'm actually a fan of. Bender and Spahnnie.

                              Yes, Bender had a lower career OPS+. But look at 1908-1911. 4 straight years of OPS+'s over 145. Blyleven had only the 2 years with OPS+'s over 145 (though of course those two were higher than Bender's best years). He was the ace pitcher on a team that won the WS 3 times, and made it 5 times (though in fairness, the first time he made the series, in 1905, Waddell and Plank were much, much better than him). His numbers got skewed by some shellings at the end of his career, but through his first three WS, he had a 1.30 ERA. Being the staff ace on a WS team carries a lot of weight, in my book.

                              And Spahn... are you really trying to say that Bertie's better than Spahn? Spahn led his league in ERA 3 times, in W 8 times, in WHIP 4 times, in BAA against once, in K's 4 times... and yes, he does have a slight 14-2 edge in AS game appearances.

                              Maybe Blyleven's better than guys like Sutton, Neikro, Wynn... I'd actually say that they're all probably of about roughly equal value. But none of them really belong in the Hall.

                              Using the "better than the worst guy in" standard, sure, Blyleven's better than Don Sutton and Early Wynn. But that doesn't mean he belongs in the Hall.
                              "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                              Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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