I have writer’s block (once again) so I’m going to the well with the topic I usually bring up when such a situation arises: Put Bert Blyleven in the Hall of Fame already!
Let me start out with some raw data: Bert Blyleven is just one of 8 pitchers who rank in the top 20 all time in wins, strikeouts and shutouts. Bert is 17th in wins, 5th in strikeouts and 8th in shutouts. The other 7 pitchers are: Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Fergie Jenkins, Walter Johnson, Gaylord Perry, Tom Seaver and Don Sutton. For the record, there is only one pitcher on this list, or otherwise obviously, who ranks higher than Bert in all three categories, that being Nolan Ryan.
Some idiots people have brought up Blyleven’s conspicuous lack of Cy Youngs. Well, the easy response to that is that the Cy Young voters are stupid. Case in point: here are two pitchers’ stats in 2005:
Pitcher A: 21-8, 3.48 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 157 K
Pitcher B: 16-7, 2.87 ERA, .97 WHIP, 238 K
It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that pitcher B (Johan Santana) had a much much much better season. However, Pitcher A (Bartolo Colon) won the Cy Young. Apparently voters are of the impression that pitchers are able to control the amount of runs their teams score.
Back to Bert: 8 times in his career he was in the top 5 in runs saved above average. In 1977 he actually led the AL in RSAA. He also was 7th in the league in strikeouts and 2nd in the league in ERA. Guess how many Cy Young votes he got? Zero.
Based on Wins Above Replacement Player, Blyleven also gets the shaft. Among hall eligible players who are not enshrined, Blyleven is far and away the best of those. Tommy John, who some non-knowledgeable people have compared to Blyleven, has 65 Wins Above Replacement. Bert has 92. When lumped together with the list at the beginning of the post, Blyleven is second only to Tom Seaver.
Blyleven also has extremely good postseason numbers: a 2.47 ERA in the postseason and 2.35 in the World Series. He is a two time world series winner.
Bert Blyleven’s career record is 287-250. I probably shouldn’t even acknowledge this as a valid point for keeping him out, because pitcher wins is an awful stat. But, even if it is a valid case, all the points above should be enough proof for anyone. But, to provide further proof, Michael Wolverton, who once wrote for BP, found Blyleven’s record to be the 7th unluckiest in the history of Major League Baseball, alluding to the offensive parks he pitched in and horrible offensive teams he pitched for. Blyleven’s naturalized record is 312-225.
In Rally’s career WAR numbers, Bert ranks as the 13th best starter ever. In what world does the 13th best person at his position ever not belong in the hall of fame? And if you take out the people who came along after Bert, he moves up to 10th. He should have been in a long time ago.
Fortunately, based on his recent voting totals, it appears Bert will get in soon. Hopefully he’ll see this article and let me introduce him. Circle me Bert!
I could go on forever explaining why Bert Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but not without swearing a lot, so I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.