January 6, 2010

At Least Gorzellany Got A Bobblehead

Bert Blyleven narrowly missed election to the Hall of Fame today and Dave Parker again came up well short. For another year anyway, Willie Stargell remains the only 1979 Pirate enshrined. With only two years remaining in his eligibility, let's hope Blyleven does not come up short again.

His curveball may have been the best in baseball history, and his 3,701 strikeouts rank fifth all time. He went 287-250 with a 3.31 ERA over 22 seasons, winning World Series with both the 1979 Pirates and 1987 Twins. He was incredibly durable for a pitcher who relied on a breaking pitch, most notably in 1985 when he threw an amazing 24 complete games. And he went 5-1, 2.47 for his career in the postseason.

There is no question in my mind that Blyleven is a Hall of Famer. It is amazing that Jack Morris, with a 3.90 ERA and 254 career wins, gets consideration for being a "big game pitcher" with a 3.80 postseason ERA, while Blyleven's 2.47 is virtually forgotten. Compared to some of his contemporaries who are in the Hall, Blyleven's stats are better than Don Sutton and Catfish Hunter, worse than Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver, and similar to Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins and Phil Niekro. While some have claimed Bert's record was not far enough above .500, I doubt many of those critics would have failed to elect Nolan Ryan with a .526 winning percentage.

There are three reasons Bert Blyleven is not in the Hall of Fame already. One is his lack of 300 wins. This was no problem for half the pitchers in the Hall and is especially a joke when Bert is fifth all time in strikeouts. Two is lack of visibility by playing in small markets in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and even by broadcasting in Minneapolis after his retirement. This is irrelevant to his career achievements. Three is that people think he never was one of the very best pitchers in baseball. Yet his 1973, 1974, 1981, 1983 and 1984 seasons were at least equal to any AL pitcher in those years and would have earned him multiple Cy Youngs if he were a Yankee. At a minimum he was the fourth best pitcher of the 1970s. In his off years of 1979 and 1987 he was winning playoff and World Series games, contributing to championships. His first off year was the 19th season of his career and he came back with a 17-5 record the next season. Let's hope he gets the 0.8% of additional votes next year to put him into his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

  1. Dave Parker should be in too! Get your act together voters!