Blyleven Just Shy of Hall

7 Jan

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While listening to the Hall of Fame announcement on this afternoon, I didn’t expect Bert Blyleven to be named a Hall of Famer. My hope was that he could hit 70%, or very close to it. Although I would not have voted for him, I knew that Andre Dawson would be announced. I fully expected that Roberto Alomar would be named as well. When the announcement was made, I was surprised, and when the vote tallies were shown, it provoked a few thoughts:

  • I’m excited about Blyleven’s increase and how close he is, and yet, as much as we assume that he will make it next year, we just don’t know.
  • Phil Mackey was on Paul Allen’s show on KFAN earlier today, and they Cold-Called Blyleven. Blyleven called back and spent a good ten minutes talking to the two.
  • First, it is nearly inexplicable for Roberto Alomar was not named a Hall of Famer. Like Blyleven, he was close. He was just eight votes shy of the necessary number. Alomar is the best all-around second baseman, easily, of the past 20 to 30 years.
  • Jack Morris increased his percentage to 52.3% I don’t think he is a Hall of Famer, but seemingly his support is on the rise.
  • I really think that Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer. He was different than the other shortstops of his era, but he was tremendous all-around. I expected him to get about 50%, and he got 51%
  • Voters really need to look at Tim Raines again. I can’t believe only 30% of voters voted for him.
  • It’s always interesting to see who will come off of the ballot next year. Harold Baines just stayed on the ballot with 6.1% Andres Galarraga was at 4.1% When I took a look at his numbers again the other night, I was absolutely astonished. No, I don’t think he’s a Hall of Famer, but when you look at those numbers, they are incredible. And, it was impressive to note how well he did before and after his terrific years in Colorado.
  • I’m never a person to take the Hall of Fame votes too seriously, but I do think it matters. I don’t get offended when someone like David Segui or Pat Hentgen get a vote. I doesn’t bother me that Ellis Burks got two or Robin Ventura got seven. I do get annoyed when players like that get a vote and the same writer doesn’t vote for someone like Blyleven.
  • I do believe that a writer should absolutely have the right to send in a blank ballot, as apparently five writers did. I believe that is their right if, and only if, they truly believe that no one is Hall of Fame worthy (which I just do not think is feasible).
  • I think that those who refuse to vote for a guy who is in his first year on the ballot are ridiculous.

Finally, my vote for the Worst Ballot (and reasoning) of the Year goes to’s Marty Noble. In previous positions, he has covered the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets. His ballot consisted of Barry Larkin and Dave Parker. Of course, I have no problem with Barry Larkin, who I believe is a Hall of Famer. And Dave Parker had a very good career. My problem is with his reasoning, as he wrote at,

“Parker remains the best player I ever have covered. He beat opponents every way possible, running over them, if necessary. And he was better at keeping a clubhouse loose than any player I’ve experienced.” 

Let’s look into that again:

  • “Parker remains the best player I ever have covered” – Is this Hall of Fame criteria now?
  • “He beat opponents every way possible, running over them, if necessary.” – Dave Parker sounds ‘scrappy.’ I remember Ray Lankford running over a catcher, video that remains on runner/catcher highlights. And yet, Noble didn’t vote for Lankford. No one did.
  • “And he was better at keeping a clubhouse loose…” – Start the Hall of Fame case for Mike Redmond, the man behind Naked BP!
  • “than any player I’ve experienced.” – Back to the first thing again. It’s about who he covered. That speaks to how silly the voting process can be. Marty, there are 29 other teams now, although I realize there were less when you started writing.
  • Finally, here is part of his reasoning for not voting for Roberto Alomar, “I don’t care that Hirschbeck forgave Alomar for spitting at him; I haven’t.” Enough said?

Any thoughts? If you have any questions or comments, please comment here.


22 Responses to “Blyleven Just Shy of Hall”

  1. thisisbeth January 7, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    I had a friend outraged at the five blank ballots, but I feel it is a legitimate vote–like you said, if those five guys truly believed that none of the names on the ballot were worthy of the HoF, then they shouldn’t be obligated to pick the best of the (i.e., the lesser of the evils).

    The voters amaze me every time there’s an award up for vote. There’s the people who obviously get it, and those that seem to pick their selections by some random, un-baseball-related criteria.

  2. 1guysworld January 7, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    I agree the voting is ridiculous. How can a player get 25% votes one year and 5 years later get 75%. I ran the numbers on Bruce Sutter. He was voted on 12 times before entering on his 13th ballot. Between 1994 and 2006, 6354 votes were cast and Sutter received 2767 for 44%. Since he received 75% the last year he was voted in.
    I concede that some players are discovered by writers after looking at the stats but 13 years? The same will be true if and when Blyleven gets his votes. How does a writer come to the conclusion that a player is worthy after more than a couple years on the ballot?
    I think players should be allowed to be on a ballot for 5 years maximum. No need to drop players if too few votes since the time will take care of them. But if a writer can’t figure out if someone is decent enough from 5-10 years after the end of their career then the player wont be voted in by the BBWAA.

  3. Gopher Nation January 7, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Personally, I like the first year entry elite status and Alomar was not deserving. He’ll get in either of the next two years.

    Blyleven will get in next year as well. It appears the writers vote on not necessarily who is deserving in a given year but what is the backlog of HOF players becoming eligible and afraid you have a year where no player gets in.

    All that being said, looking at the voting results, there seems to be a need for a qualification process before a writer obtains a vote. Based on voting results, there must not be one now.

  4. mike wants wins January 7, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Babe Ruth hit an ump with a bat, would Noble not vote for him?

    “I saw them play”. How could anyone vote based on that, and not the numbers? How often does a beat writer see a player from another team play? How often does a beat writer see a player from the other League play? this is especially true for players up for votes now. These guys mostly played before cable, satellite….no way these writers saw most of these guys play more than a handful of times.

  5. Joel Thingvall January 7, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    You make it your job to see players play. Talk to others, look at box scores. Think. You can’t JUST be a homer in the Hall of Fame ballotting. You have been given this honor and should do your homework.

    The players that do suffer are the borderline guys. The ones that didn’t quite get the numbers, the ones that have the awards but not the overall stats, the ones that played for small teams (or non-winners). If you have a 3.20 ERA and your team seldom scored three runs, you will have a lot of losses or no decisions. If you have the same ERA and your team scored 4-5 runs, you’ll have a 100-win/loss differential. Just like if you had Rickey Henderson batting in front of you rather than Nick Punto, your RBI totals will excel!

    What is criteria for being a Hall of Fame voter/writer. Seems some like to see their names in the news. I mean…Parker and Larkin? Please. You have an opportunity to vote for 10. You totally blow on skipping the actual winner and ignore others because…….lame excuse. Might as well have left your ballot blank.

    If you leave your ballot blank (which is a right), maybe should look at qualifications yourself for participating. Yes, I just contradicted myself there. But baseball writers should take this stuff seriously.

  6. Seth January 7, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    I meant to add this comment as well in my thoughts on the Hall of Fame Vote… I didn’t, so I’ll put it here.

    Personally, I think that voting for 10 people for the Hall of Fame is equally disturbing to me as people voting for none. Again, if the person truly believes there are ten Hall of Famers on the ballot, OK. But I just don’t think that’s any better than voting for none.

  7. CZ January 7, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    What bothers me is their insistance that they use gold gloves, MVP and other voted on awards to make sure someone has ‘qualified’ for the HOF. After the Palmeiro stupidity with the gold glove, if any voter awards someone a HOF based on gold gloves won, they should be stripped. Here’s the other litmus test…..Mussina should (SHOULD) have to wait 13 years before he has a chance to make the ballot…very similiar numbers to Bert…18 seasons, 270 wins. Not as many strike outs. Not nearly as many Shutouts or complete games. Won 20 games once. Not the dominant pitcher of his time. Numbers are more about the total than the domination. Sub 3 ERA ONCE (Full season). Never won the Cy Young. Never won the world series. However, he gets extra points for being on the yankee$.

  8. peterb18 January 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm #


    I believe you said that you would have not voted for Bert.
    Did I read that right? If so, for what reason?

  9. Seth January 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    “I believe you said that you would have not voted for Bert.
    Did I read that right?”

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that anywhere.

  10. mgrrgd January 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    I think peterb18 was referring to this sentence (I had to re-read it also):

    I didn’t expect Bert Blyleven to be named a Hall of Famer. My hope was that he could hit 70%, or very close to it. Although I would not have voted for him, I knew that Andre Dawson would be announced.

    Seth was talking about not voting for Andre Dawson, but at first it sounded like a continuation of the Bert sentence.

  11. Seth January 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Ah, I understand… probably should have been separate lines or bullet points.

  12. Mark January 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Bert Blyleven was my favorite Twin player when I was young. But, he simply is not a Hall of Fame level pitcher. Although he was considered a good pitcher he was never considered to be amongst the best pitchers of his time. That is why MVP and Cy Young voting is important to consider. He had a long career and was a contributor, but never amongst the greatest. Hence, why he falls short in voting.

  13. peterb18 January 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm #


    It is possible to not win an MVP, or other major awards, and be one of the best players of your era! Eddie Mathews was one of the very best players of his era and never won an MVP. And Bert was one of the best pitchers of his era, as recently stated by countless players of that era. He, also, is considered one of the best curve ball pitchers of all time–if not thee best!

  14. Mark January 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    Really? All of your statements are anececdotal. To me the minimum criteria of the Hall of Fame should be if the people who observed the game during the time a player played, that he was considered one of the top players at his position.

    And, the fact is, during the prime of Blyleven’s career from 1974-1984 there was not one baseball writer eligible to vote for the Cy Young that considered him to be one of the top three pitchers in his league. Close examination of the voting reveals that he was not in the top ten pitchers in the majors through that period.

    He was a good pitcher with longevity as the fact that he received Cy Young votes late in his career indicate. But he was NEVER considered a premier pitcher in his time. Never. Other pitchers received much more acclaim, and they were better.

    The HOF should not have good pitchers in it. The fact that Bert was as good as Niekro or Sutton is immaterial. They made it because of longevity and making the 300 win plateu. If Bert could have made that he would have been in a long time ago. The point being that if you are going to try to make it to the Hall as a longevity player you need to reach the appropriate milestones (3000 hits, 500 homers, 300 wins).

  15. peterb18 January 7, 2010 at 9:42 pm #


    Your opinion! Hank Aaron said yesterday that he(Bert) was one of the best pitchers he faced! He will be in the hall and you will be proved wrong.

  16. scot January 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    Bert will make it next year!

  17. Robb January 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    I don’t know how a writer obtains a vote for the Hall of Fame but maybe they should have that vote taken away if they vote because the player was “the best I covered” or he kept the “locker room loose.” Lets throw in community service and how well they dressed too. What a joke that is!

  18. John H January 8, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    Here’s a link for Mark to check out. Written by Joe Posnanski.

    It’s a good one I think. Here’s how it starts:

    Bert Blyleven has more shutouts than:

    • Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Combined.
    • Roger Clemens and Chris Carpenter. Combined.
    • Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Mark Buehrle. Combined.
    • Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina and Brandon Webb. Combined.
    • Orel Hershiser, Curt Schilling, Johan Santana and Bartolo Colon. Combined.
    • Dave Stieb and Jack Morris. Combined.
    • New York Yankees pitchers have had since 1988. Combined.
    • The entire American League in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and… every year going back to 1992.

    I found it to be very good at pointing out how Bert actually pitched while on some really crappy teams.

  19. Mark January 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    “Bert Blyleven has more shutouts than”

    I don’t care. Again, although Blyleven was my favorite player growing up I still did not consider him to be amongst the best pitchers in the league. And, neither did his contemporaries. That is why he is virtually absent from the Cy Young voting. IF HE WAS ONE OF THE BEST HE WOULD HAVE HAD WAY HIGHER CY YOUNG VOTING.

    He was good. But good pitchers do not get into the HOF.

    Further, most of his HOF credentials are based on lifetime levels. He pitched for a long time whic meant he was a good pitcher. But Bert’s problem is that he did not make the threshold for career achievement for a longevity pitcher, 300 wins.

    I do not think Phil Niekro or Don Sutton belong in the Hall of Fame either. THey were good pitchers that held on for a long time. The off-speed pithers had that advantage because the fastball is the quickest pitch to deteriorate. But that does not make them great and should nto get them in the HOF.

  20. Mark January 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    “Your opinion! Hank Aaron said yesterday that he(Bert) was one of the best pitchers he faced! He will be in the hall and you will be proved wrong.”

    Again, I dont care. When Bert Blyleven was pitching in the prime of his career he received Cy Young votes exactly ONE year. That year he finished 7th in Cy Young balloting.When he was pitching people who followed the with ONE, count em, ONE third place vote. John Hiller, Wilbur Wood, and Jim Colburn received more voting share.

    Bert did not receive another vote for Cy Young until his career revival in the mid-80’s. Think about that. You want a guy to be in the HOF that from 1974-1983 NEVER received a single vote saying he was a top three pitcher in the league.

  21. peterb18 January 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Yes, I do want him in the hall, as do most of his contemporaries who played against him, or observed him first hand. The writers are starting to get it right now.
    This “I don’t care argument” is like little kids arguing who is better, My third baseman, or yours. Mark either was a great player who has such high standards that nobody should get in, or barely ever played the game, and really does not have a feel for the game.

  22. John H January 8, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Well, OK Mark if you think Cy Young votes are the prerequisite to get into the HOF for pitchers then fine with me. I remember a guy that used to pitch for the Twins named Johan Santana. He pitched really well for us and we use the word dominant when talking about him. He just finished his first 10 years with a 122-60 WL, 1709 innings pitched and an ERA of 3.12. In Bert’s pedestrian first 10 years his WL was 161-144 over 2918 innings with an ERA of 2.89. While finishing his first 10 years he also struck out 598 more batters than Johan has in his entire career. Johan has it made though cause he has bunches of votes for the Cy Young award. Good thing cause his post season record is only 1-2 while Mr. Nobody, Bert, is 5-1 with 2 World Series rings. BTW I wish Johan was still with the Twins.

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