Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Primate Studies > Discussion
Primate Studies
— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bert Blyleven’s 1979 no-decisions

I wrote this in 2004 to SABR-L, and I’ll repost it here since it sparked some interest.

Blyleven’s no-decision starts (data courtesy of Retrosheet):

4/6: Blyleven faced off against Montreal’s Steve Rogers on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, pitching seven solid innings and allowing two runs, but left trailing 2-1. The Pirates tied it on Omar Moreno’s single in the bottom of the 8th, but lost 3-2 in the tenth on errors by Kent Tekulve and Dale Berra.

4/21: The first of six consecutive no-decisions, and eight in nine starts. In Houston, the Pirates came back from an early 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but Blyleven gave up two-out singles to Ken Forsch, Terry Puhl, and Craig Reynolds to tie it, then was lifted after walking Cesar Cedeno to load the bases. Grant Jackson shut the door, but the Astros won it in 10 as Berra again committed a key error to hang a loss on Tekulve.

4/25: In Cincinnati, Blyleven gave up two runs in the third, and left in the seventh with a 2-1 deficit. Moreno once again drove in the tying run in the eighth with a single, and this time the Bucs got a win for Tekulve in the 11th.

5/1: Against Atlanta’s Phil Niekro at home, Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, with the game tied at 2. The Braves jumped on Tekulve and Enrique Romo for a three-spot in the top of the ninth to take a 5-2 win.

5/5: In St. Louis, Blyleven was rocked in a 3-run fourth inning and was removed trailing 4-0. The Pirates got two in the sixth, one in the eighth, and then tallied three unearned runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-5 comeback win.

5/11: In a return engagement against the Reds in Pittsburgh, Blyleven pitched six indifferent innings, allowing four runs. The Bucs tied the score in the sixth as Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter, and the Reds got one in the eighth and three in the ninth for an 8-4 win.

5/16: In Three Rivers against the Mets, Blyleven took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. Steve Henderson led off with a single, and then Berra booted John Stearns’s grounder for an error. Tekulve came on for Blyleven, giving up a sacrifice and an intentional walk, and then Jackson relieved and allowed Gil Flores to hit a sacrifice fly which plated the tying run. Mike Easler’s pinch-hit HR won the game for
Pittsburgh in the 13th.

5/26: After beating the Expos in Montreal on the 21st for his first win of 1979, Blyleven was back in the no-decision rut in Shea Stadium. The Mets cranked out four consecutive two-out singles in the third which led to a five-run inning and an early shower for Blyleven. Facing a 5-1 deficit, the Pirates quickly responded with a run in the fourth off Mike Scott and three in the fifth off Scott and Jesse Orosco to take Blyleven off the hook, but they eventually lost the game 10-8.

5/31: Back home against the Cubs, Blylven left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning of a 2-2 tie. The Pirates got a run in that frame to give Bert a 3-2 lead, but the Cubs tied it off Romo in the eighth, and the Pirates were forced into extra frames before winning 4-3 in the 10th.

6/10: Blyleven had a 2-1 lead at Three Rivers entering the top of the sixth against the Giants, but Bill Madlock’s leadoff triple and Darrell Evans’s single quickly tied the game, and after an additional single by John Tamargo, Romo came into the game. Aided by yet another Berra error, the Giants took a 3-2 lead, but the Bucs got Blyleven off the hook yet again in the bottom half with two runs, although San Francisco eventually won 7-4.

7/8: In the second game of a doubleheader at Riverfront Stadium, Blyleven allowed just one run in seven innings, but the Pirates could only muster a single tally themselves off Tom Hume. Blyleven left in the top of the eighth for a pinch-hitter, and Willie Stargell’s homer off Dave Tomlin in the ninth gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 win.

7/19: Against the Astros in the opener of a home twinbill, Blyleven gave up three in the first and two in the fourth before leaving in favor of Dave Roberts, tied at 5. Phil Garner’s two-run shot in the sixth gave Roberts his first victory as a Pirate, as the Bucs eventually won 9-5.

8/5: Pitching the first game of a double dip at home against the Phillies, Blyleven was handed an early 3-2 lead, but departed in the middle of a 6-run Philadelphia 5th inning outburst punctuated by Greg Luzinski’s grand slam. The Pirates fought back to tie it at 8 after eight innings, and John Milner hit a gran slam in the bottom of the ninth to salvage a 12-8 win.

8/10: At Philadelphia, again in the lidlifter of a doubleheader, Blyleven lasted seven innings, allowing three runs. Tim Foli’s two-run homer in the top of the eighth tied it at 3 as Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter, and the Phils eventually won 4-3 in 12.

8/20: In a wild one against the Giants in Pittsburgh, Blyleven pitched six innings, allowing five runs and leaving with a 5-5 tie. An eighth-inning passed ball by Mike Sadek allowed pinch-runner Alberto Lois to score the winning run in a 6-5 victory.

8/25: In San Diego, Blyleven allowed the Padres two runs in the third, then shut down the Pads through seven before leaving for a pinch-hitter, down 2-0. The Pirates scored twice in the ninth to tie it (aided again by a passed ball that allowed the tying run to score). Both teams plated single runs in the 12th, and the Bucs eventually outlasted the Padres 4-3 in the 19th.

9/8: In Shea Stadium, Blyleven again allowed just two runs in seven innings, only to find himself down 2-0. This time, the Bucs tied the game in the eighth as Stargell batted for Blyleven and delivered a pinch-single, but the Bucs eventually lost to old shipmate Dock Ellis in the 15th.

9/15: Facing the Mets again in Pittsburgh, Blyleven gave up a pair of runs in the first, but took a 4-2 lead into the seventh. Blyleven loaded the bases with two outs, then yielded a two-run single to Lee Mazzilli to tie the score and was replaced by Roberts. Roberts got the 5-4 win when Bill Robinson drove in the tiebreaking run in the bottom of the 7th.

9/19: In the first game of a doubleheader at Veterans Stadium, Blyleven allowed single runs in the first and third, and departed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth, trailing 2-1. Mike Schmidt hit a grand-slam off Romo in the seventh to extend the lead to 6-1. The Bucs got three off Tug McGraw in the eighth, then completed the comeback with five off McGraw and Rawly Eastwick in the ninth, keyed by Manny Sanguillen’s two-run triple to take a 9-6 win.

9/29: Against the Cubs at home, Blyleven led 3-1 through five but saw the lead evaporate on a Dave Kingman single and Steve Ontiveros’s two-run double. Romo came on and yielded two additional runs as the Cubs took a 6-3 lead. The Bucs got one in the sixth and two off Bruce Sutter in the seventh to tie it. Stargell’s 13th-inning error gave Cub rookie Bill Caudill his first major league win after seven straight losses.

The thing that struck me about these 20 no-decisions is that Blyleven left with a lead only twice, while departing with a deficit nine times and in tie games nine other times (including a couple of cases where the Pirates tied the game as he was leaving for a pinch-hitter). Although Blyleven did tend to receive less run support in his starts than his teammates (receiving less-than-expected run support in 23 of 37 starts in 1979), poor run support was a hindrance in only about a third of his no-decisions; the rest of it was generally Blyleven’s own inability to hold the opposition down. Looking at his pattern of runs allowed, my best estimate of his likely won-lost record, had the Pirates scored for him as they did for his teammates, would be about 14-11.

Mike Emeigh Posted: January 04, 2010 at 06:41 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Danny Posted: January 04, 2010 at 06:58 PM (#3427209)
Looking at his pattern of runs allowed, my best estimate of his likely won-lost record, had the Pirates scored for him as they did for his teammates, would be about 14-11.

That jives with BPro's SNWL (assumes league average offensive and bullpen support) which shows Blyleven with an expected W-L record of 13.5-11.7 for 1979. That still leaves him as a 12th best pitcher in the NL by SNLVAR.
   2. OCF Posted: January 04, 2010 at 08:27 PM (#3427328)
That jives with BPro's SNWL (assumes league average offensive and bullpen support) which shows Blyleven with an expected W-L record of 13.5-11.7

In the less-sophisticated RA+ PythPat system I've been using, I have that as 14.6-11.8. One tidbit: I have his RA+ (113) a little better than his ERA+ (109), so in that year, his unearned runs were a slightly below par.

In his best year, 1973, his RA+ (148) wasn't as good as his ERA+ (158), but that's still good for a 24-12 equivalent record.
   3. The Essex Snead Posted: January 05, 2010 at 05:05 PM (#3428189)
I'm guessing Bert's wasn't going out of his way to circle Dale Berra that season.
   4. DL from MN Posted: January 05, 2010 at 08:23 PM (#3428535)
One of the reasons why Blyleven's teams didn't score as many runs when he was playing was that he was generally the worst hitter on the team. He wasn't a decent bunter either. Pitcher offense doesn't matter much but Bert will admit he was terrible. This of course doesn't apply to his time on post-DH AL teams.
   5. StillFlash Posted: January 06, 2010 at 07:02 AM (#3429321)
I was at the 8/5 game, my 21st birthday. Luzinski's blast nearly hit the scoreboard in CF.

I recall that it was all these no decisions (and lack of complete games) that led to Blyleven making himself unpopular in Pittsburgh. Accustomed to finishing what he started, Mike's work suggests he might have only gotten two more victories. Blyleven's public griping led to such nicknames as "Cryleven" and "The Crying Dutchman".
   6. Tommy in CT Posted: January 07, 2010 at 05:53 AM (#3430452)
In four of the games cited in this post Bert left with runners on base who represented the lead runs and accordingly Bert stood to lose the game. He didn't lose any of them. That's 13 games where Bert was bailed out either by his bullpen or by Pirate bats. Any way you cut it, Bert's '79 season was not very good. It's worth noting that Bert started only one game in the '79 series, and while the Pirates mounted their comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the Series Bert was relegated to the bullpen.
   7. shock Posted: January 07, 2010 at 06:01 AM (#3430458)
Bert's '79 season was not very good


Is this a revelation? His ERA+ was 109.

If you can show that he wasn't very good in 1977--then that might be interesting. So he wasn't all that great in a season he put up an ERA+ of 109. Call me shocked.
   8. Tommy in CT Posted: January 07, 2010 at 06:06 AM (#3430459)
He wasn't very good in '77. He had a 14-12 record despite getting good run support. Doyle Alexander, by contrast, received less run support than Bert and posted a 17-10 record. Bert pitched poorly in tight games but pitched shutouts when he was given 13 and 14 runs. Alexander pitched great in tight games but gave up meaningless runs in two games in which he was given 11 runs to work with. Bert was 4-11 in games in which he received four or fewer runs of support; Doyle was 9-6.

This was a pattern that played out through Bert's career. Bert was very good with a huge lead, but his performance dipped when the game was tight.
   9. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 07, 2010 at 06:11 AM (#3430463)
It's worth noting that Bert started only one game in the '79 series, and while the Pirates mounted their comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the Series Bert was relegated to the bullpen.


Bert Blyleven came on in relief in the 6th inning of Game 5 of that god-forsaken World Series - on TWO days' rest, the day before his scheduled Game 6 start - and pitched four shutout innings to win the game and help stave off elimination. Geeze, he pitched 10 IP (only Bibby pitched more - 10-1/3) and had a 1.80 ERA in that World Series. And in the regular season, the Pirates had a lower winning percentage than the Expos in games started by somebody other than Bert Blyleven. And as Shock noted, that was actually one of his poorer seasons.
   10. Tommy in CT Posted: January 07, 2010 at 06:20 AM (#3430469)
And in the regular season, the Pirates had a lower winning percentage than the Expos in games started by somebody other than Bert Blyleven. And as Shock noted, that was actually one of his poorer seasons.


The Expos finished 2nd that year with 96 wins! And anyway, the Pirates had a .600 winning percentage in games started by someone other than Bert, and that was better than the Expos .594 winning percentage. And, by the way, the Pirates won a lower percentage of Bert's starts in '79 than Don Robinson's, Bruce Kison's or Jim Bibby's.

Bert won 12 of his 37 starts for a great team that won the World Series. That's terrible.
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 07, 2010 at 06:27 AM (#3430475)
Bert won 12 of his 37 starts for a great team that won the World Series.


It's equally true to say that Bert Blyleven started 37 games that year and only lost 5 games.

the Pirates had a .600 winning percentage in games started by someone other than Bert, and that was better than the Expos .594 winning percentage.


You're right. My bad.
   12. Tommy in CT Posted: January 07, 2010 at 07:02 AM (#3430501)
It's equally true to say that Bert Blyleven started 37 games that year and only lost 5 games.


Yeah, but as Mike points out above, he left 9 games when behind and the Pirates rallied to bail him out. Bert's record in '79 would have been something like 13-12 but for all these Pirate comebacks.
   13. cerberus Posted: January 09, 2010 at 06:49 PM (#3432792)
I don't really know what the purpose of this article is. You have already claimed that you are not the biggest Blyleven fan, so maybe you can enlighten me.

I like Blyleven, and I'll be the first to admit that he didn't pitch anywhere near the level that I expected of him in 1979. He still had an era+ of 109, which is far from being bad.

If the purpose of this article was to tell us that his 12-5 record was out of whack, then I absolutely agree. It should have been much worse. There is a reason why I pay little attention to w/l records, and it is because they are pretty much useless when it comes to evaluating a pitcher.

Why not break down Blyleven's other seasons such as 1976 when he only got an average of 2.66 runs of support?

This is for the troll "Tommy in CT", whose every post is so misleading and negative of Blyleven. Blyleven was good in in 1977. You don't get an era+ of 151 by not being very good. In Blyleven's 13 losses, his team scored 32 runs. That is an average of 2.46 runs per game.

You guys keep up your fascination with wins and losses. I know good pitching when I see it.
   14. cerberus Posted: January 09, 2010 at 06:52 PM (#3432793)
I stand corrected, 32 runs in 12 losses. That's 2.67 runs per game.
   15. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 09, 2010 at 07:35 PM (#3432820)
I don't really know what the purpose of this article is. You have already claimed that you are not the biggest Blyleven fan, so maybe you can enlighten me.


I wrote the article primarily in response to people (including Blyleven himself) who complained that Tanner's handling of him during his time in Pittsburgh cost him his 300 wins. Since Blyleven established a record in 1979 with his 20 no-decisions, it seemed to be logical to look at that season first.

Given the way that Blyleven actually pitched, the only conclusion that I can draw is that Blyleven expected Tanner to manage in a way to maximize Blyleven's chances at a win, rather than maximizing the team's chances for a win. Tanner - to his credit, IMO - handled Blyleven exactly the way he handled every other starter.

-- MWE
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 09, 2010 at 08:20 PM (#3432844)
He wasn't very good in '77. He had a 14-12 record despite getting good run support. Doyle Alexander, by contrast, received less run support than Bert and posted a 17-10 record.


Were the pitchers that Bert faced equal, better or worse to Doyle that year?
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 09, 2010 at 08:27 PM (#3432847)
Were the pitchers that Bert faced equal, better or worse to Doyle that year?


Take 2.

Were the pitchers that Bert faced equal, better or worse than the ones that Doyle faced that year?
   18. cerberus Posted: January 09, 2010 at 09:08 PM (#3432864)
Bert Blyleven’s 1979 no-decisions

I wrote this in 2004 to SABR-L, and I’ll repost it here since it sparked some interest.

Blyleven’s no-decision starts (data courtesy of Retrosheet):

4/6: Blyleven faced off against Montreal’s Steve Rogers on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, pitching seven solid innings and allowing two runs, but left trailing 2-1. The Pirates tied it on Omar Moreno’s single in the bottom of the 8th, but lost 3-2 in the tenth on errors by Kent Tekulve and Dale Berra.

4/21: The first of six consecutive no-decisions, and eight in nine starts. In Houston, the Pirates came back from an early 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but Blyleven gave up two-out singles to Ken Forsch, Terry Puhl, and Craig Reynolds to tie it, then was lifted after walking Cesar Cedeno to load the bases. Grant Jackson shut the door, but the Astros won it in 10 as Berra again committed a key error to hang a loss on Tekulve.

4/25: In Cincinnati, Blyleven gave up two runs in the third, and left in the seventh with a 2-1 deficit. Moreno once again drove in the tying run in the eighth with a single, and this time the Bucs got a win for Tekulve in the 11th.

5/1: Against Atlanta’s Phil Niekro at home, Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, with the game tied at 2. The Braves jumped on Tekulve and Enrique Romo for a three-spot in the top of the ninth to take a 5-2 win.

5/5: In St. Louis, Blyleven was rocked in a 3-run fourth inning and was removed trailing 4-0. The Pirates got two in the sixth, one in the eighth, and then tallied three unearned runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-5 comeback win.

5/11: In a return engagement against the Reds in Pittsburgh, Blyleven pitched six indifferent innings, allowing four runs. The Bucs tied the score in the sixth as Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter, and the Reds got one in the eighth and three in the ninth for an 8-4 win.

5/16: In Three Rivers against the Mets, Blyleven took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. Steve Henderson led off with a single, and then Berra booted John Stearns’s grounder for an error. Tekulve came on for Blyleven, giving up a sacrifice and an intentional walk, and then Jackson relieved and allowed Gil Flores to hit a sacrifice fly which plated the tying run. Mike Easler’s pinch-hit HR won the game for
Pittsburgh in the 13th.

5/26: After beating the Expos in Montreal on the 21st for his first win of 1979, Blyleven was back in the no-decision rut in Shea Stadium. The Mets cranked out four consecutive two-out singles in the third which led to a five-run inning and an early shower for Blyleven. Facing a 5-1 deficit, the Pirates quickly responded with a run in the fourth off Mike Scott and three in the fifth off Scott and Jesse Orosco to take Blyleven off the hook, but they eventually lost the game 10-8.

5/31: Back home against the Cubs, Blylven left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning of a 2-2 tie. The Pirates got a run in that frame to give Bert a 3-2 lead, but the Cubs tied it off Romo in the eighth, and the Pirates were forced into extra frames before winning 4-3 in the 10th.

6/10: Blyleven had a 2-1 lead at Three Rivers entering the top of the sixth against the Giants, but Bill Madlock’s leadoff triple and Darrell Evans’s single quickly tied the game, and after an additional single by John Tamargo, Romo came into the game. Aided by yet another Berra error, the Giants took a 3-2 lead, but the Bucs got Blyleven off the hook yet again in the bottom half with two runs, although San Francisco eventually won 7-4.

7/8: In the second game of a doubleheader at Riverfront Stadium, Blyleven allowed just one run in seven innings, but the Pirates could only muster a single tally themselves off Tom Hume. Blyleven left in the top of the eighth for a pinch-hitter, and Willie Stargell’s homer off Dave Tomlin in the ninth gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 win.

7/19: Against the Astros in the opener of a home twinbill, Blyleven gave up three in the first and two in the fourth before leaving in favor of Dave Roberts, tied at 5. Phil Garner’s two-run shot in the sixth gave Roberts his first victory as a Pirate, as the Bucs eventually won 9-5.

8/5: Pitching the first game of a double dip at home against the Phillies, Blyleven was handed an early 3-2 lead, but departed in the middle of a 6-run Philadelphia 5th inning outburst punctuated by Greg Luzinski’s grand slam. The Pirates fought back to tie it at 8 after eight innings, and John Milner hit a gran slam in the bottom of the ninth to salvage a 12-8 win.

8/10: At Philadelphia, again in the lidlifter of a doubleheader, Blyleven lasted seven innings, allowing three runs. Tim Foli’s two-run homer in the top of the eighth tied it at 3 as Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter, and the Phils eventually won 4-3 in 12.

8/20: In a wild one against the Giants in Pittsburgh, Blyleven pitched six innings, allowing five runs and leaving with a 5-5 tie. An eighth-inning passed ball by Mike Sadek allowed pinch-runner Alberto Lois to score the winning run in a 6-5 victory.

8/25: In San Diego, Blyleven allowed the Padres two runs in the third, then shut down the Pads through seven before leaving for a pinch-hitter, down 2-0. The Pirates scored twice in the ninth to tie it (aided again by a passed ball that allowed the tying run to score). Both teams plated single runs in the 12th, and the Bucs eventually outlasted the Padres 4-3 in the 19th.

9/8: In Shea Stadium, Blyleven again allowed just two runs in seven innings, only to find himself down 2-0. This time, the Bucs tied the game in the eighth as Stargell batted for Blyleven and delivered a pinch-single, but the Bucs eventually lost to old shipmate Dock Ellis in the 15th.

9/15: Facing the Mets again in Pittsburgh, Blyleven gave up a pair of runs in the first, but took a 4-2 lead into the seventh. Blyleven loaded the bases with two outs, then yielded a two-run single to Lee Mazzilli to tie the score and was replaced by Roberts. Roberts got the 5-4 win when Bill Robinson drove in the tiebreaking run in the bottom of the 7th.

9/19: In the first game of a doubleheader at Veterans Stadium, Blyleven allowed single runs in the first and third, and departed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth, trailing 2-1. Mike Schmidt hit a grand-slam off Romo in the seventh to extend the lead to 6-1. The Bucs got three off Tug McGraw in the eighth, then completed the comeback with five off McGraw and Rawly Eastwick in the ninth, keyed by Manny Sanguillen’s two-run triple to take a 9-6 win.

9/29: Against the Cubs at home, Blyleven led 3-1 through five but saw the lead evaporate on a Dave Kingman single and Steve Ontiveros’s two-run double. Romo came on and yielded two additional runs as the Cubs took a 6-3 lead. The Bucs got one in the sixth and two off Bruce Sutter in the seventh to tie it. Stargell’s 13th-inning error gave Cub rookie Bill Caudill his first major league win after seven straight losses.

The thing that struck me about these 20 no-decisions is that Blyleven left with a lead only twice, while departing with a deficit nine times and in tie games nine other times (including a couple of cases where the Pirates tied the game as he was leaving for a pinch-hitter). Although Blyleven did tend to receive less run support in his starts than his teammates (receiving less-than-expected run support in 23 of 37 starts in 1979), poor run support was a hindrance in only about a third of his no-decisions; the rest of it was generally Blyleven’s own inability to hold the opposition down. Looking at his pattern of runs allowed, my best estimate of his likely won-lost record, had the Pirates scored for him as they did for his teammates, would be about 14-11.



4/6: Blyleven pitches well enough to win, but Pirates only reward him with a single run.

4/21: deserved to lose

4/25: Blyleven again pitches decently enough to win, going 6 2/3 while yielding 2 earned runs. Pirates again score only one run for him while he was in the game, but were kind enough to tie it later.

5/1: Blyleven goes 8 strong innings, yielding only 2 hits and 2 earned runs. Another could have been a win, but Pirates reward him with only 2 runs scored.

5/5: deserved to lose

5/11: good no decision

5/16: Blyleven goes 8 strong innings, giving up just 2 earned runs, but Pirates reward him with a single run while he was in the game

5/26: deserved to lose

5/31: Pitched well enough to win, but bullpen can't hold lead

6/10: pitched okay, giving up 2 earned runs in 5 innings. No fault with pitcher or team.

7/8: Blyleven goes 7 innings, yielding 1 earned run. Team rewards him with a sole run.

7/19: deserved to lose

8/5: pitched poorly, but 2 unearned runs don't help cause

8/10: pitched okay, going 7 innings while allowing 3 earned runs. Pirates only score a single run while he was in the game.

8/20: pitched poorly

8/25: Blyleven gives up a single earned run in 7 innings, but gets 0 runs from his team while in game

9/8: Blyeven goes 7 innings, yielding 2 earned runs, but Pirates give him no runs to work with while in the game

9/15: Blyleven fails to hold lead, his fault.

9/19: Blyleven pitches okay, going 5 innings and yielding 2 earned runs. He gets a lone run while in game.

9/29: Team comes back to tie game for Bert, who did not pitch well


There are 11 games there where Blyleven could have won with better run support while he was in the game. There are about 6 games where he absolutely deserved to lose. The other 3 games are typical of no decisions where the pitcher doesn't pitch great, but at least gets enough support to bail him out.

Your primary focus was that Blyleven only left with the lead twice, and while that may be true, he really wasn't to blame for that. When he did pitch well, his team only rewarded him with a run, maybe 2 if he was lucky.

People can see different things. I see Blyleven getting virtually no run support when he did pitch well. I see the fact that he only left with the lead only twice as a pro in his favour because when you do look at the game logs you wonder why the Pirates couldn't score for him in many of those games. The fact that his team couldn't score runs for him in the games he did pitch well isn't Blyleven's fault, but I guess you could fault that to Blyleven too if you really wanted to spin things.

Actually, looking back at that year, it wasn't as bad as I thought, given that I have very high expectations of Blyleven, and I consider 1979 to be one of his off years.

Every single one of his wins was a quality start win. My quality starts are 6 to 8 2/3 innings while allowing 2 earned runs or less, or 9 innings or more while allowing 3 earned runs or less, so that the era always stays at 3.00 or lower. 2 of his losses were quality starts.

1979 was an off year for Blyleven. I feel funny saying that because many pitchers would be happy with an era+ of 109, but many pitchers aren't Blyleven.
   19. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 09, 2010 at 09:08 PM (#3432866)
I wrote the article primarily in response to people (including Blyleven himself) who complained that Tanner's handling of him during his time in Pittsburgh cost him his 300 wins. Since Blyleven established a record in 1979 with his 20 no-decisions, it seemed to be logical to look at that season first.

Thanks for clearing that up. I've honestly been a little bewildered by much of the fascination with Blyleven's 1979 season. It always seemed to me that the 34 losses in '73-'74 while throwing 606 innings of 150 ERA+ were a much bigger drag on his shot at 300 wins than Chuck Tanner's quick hook. But since 1979 is the topic du jour, I'll just note that Blyleven led the Pirates in IP. Other starters pitched better, but Bert threw 30 more innings than Candelaria and 65 more than Kison. He was arguably the most valuable pitcher on a WS champion, and somehow that is counted against his HOF case.

He wasn't very good in '77. He had a 14-12 record despite getting good run support. Doyle Alexander, by contrast, received less run support than Bert and posted a 17-10 record.

The Rangers scored 146 runs in Blyleven's 30 starts. They scored 47 of those runs in just three of those games. That's 25% of the run support in 10% of the starts. The Rangers also scored 11 runs in two of Alexander's 34 starts. Take away those five games and the two pitchers had essentially equal average run support. And while Alexander made four more starts, he pitched only three more innings. Finally, the Rangers were 18-16 in Alexander's starts and 18-12 in Blyleven's.
   20. Tommy in CT Posted: January 09, 2010 at 09:31 PM (#3432878)
The difference between Alexander and Blyleven in '79 is clear. In games where he received four or fewer runs of support, Bert was 4-11. Doyle Alexander was 9-6 in such games.

Bert had better run support, and fewer games than Doyle where he received 1 run or less, 2 runs or less, 3 runs or less and 4 runs or less. But Doyle pitched much better in such low scoring games. Similarly, Bert burnished his ERA in games where the Rangers gave him huge early leads, winning shutouts by scores of 13-0, 14-0, 6-0 and 5-0. In games where Doyle got huge run support, he gave up meaningless runs, runs that never threatened the Rangers lead. Doyle won, but his ERA was inflated by these runs.

Bert: 4-11. Doyle: 9-6. That was the difference that year - Doyle's superiority in low scoring, tight games.
   21. cerberus Posted: January 09, 2010 at 09:33 PM (#3432880)
Were the pitchers that Bert faced equal, better or worse than the ones that Doyle faced that year?


Blyleven was fantastic in 1977. 20 of his 30 starts were quality starts. Not your typical quality starts, but what I consider quality starts. 6 to 8 2/3 innings while allowing less than 2 or fewer earned runs, or 9 innings or more, while allowing 3 or fewer earned runs.

He was unfortunate to lose 4 of those times he pitched a quality start, and of the 12 losses he had that year, his team scored for him a grand total of 32 runs.

Wins and losses are a horrible way to judge a pitchers true ability. Wins and losses doesn't take account run support, particularly how many runs a team scores for a pitcher while he is still in the game.
   22. Tommy in CT Posted: January 09, 2010 at 09:39 PM (#3432885)
Cerberus completely fails to account for how well pitchers pitch when their run support is limited. For example, Doyle Alexander pitched much better than Bert in tight, low scoring games in 1977, and accordingly compiled a much better record despite a higher ERA+.

The Win Probability Added statistic neatly captures the element of pitching in critical situations, including tight, low scoring games. Alexander's WPA in '77 was 2.74. Bert's was 2.10. That's why Alexander was the better pitcher that year, and that's an example of how ERA+ can be misleading.
   23. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 09, 2010 at 09:45 PM (#3432891)
The Win Probability Added statistic neatly captures the element of pitching in critical situations, including tight, low scoring games. Alexander's WPA in '77 was 2.74. Bert's was 2.10. That's why Alexander was the better pitcher that year, and that's an example of how ERA+ can be misleading.

Blyleven amassed roughly 32 WPA during his career. Given his innings total, that converts to something like 85 wins above replacement, which is well above any Hall of Fame baseline I've ever heard of.
   24. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 09, 2010 at 11:02 PM (#3432958)
WPA is the stupidest statistic ever invented, so it's not surprise that little Tommy-boy likes it so much. You're arguing that Blyleven wasn't valuable because the Rangers were silly enough to score more runs than they needed in a few games where he pitched well. OTOH, games where the Rangers gave Alexander early leads that he coughed up (eg -- 4/18, 6/21, 7/1) don't seem to count, because they didn't end up being tight and low-scoring. Neither do games where Alexander got lit up early, even if the Rangers ended up scoring more than enough runs to win the game if their starter had been merely decent. I'm sorry, but that is just monumentally stupid.

Alexander vs Blyleven in 1977 is an example of how W-L record, not ERA+, can be misleading.
   25. Tommy in CT Posted: January 09, 2010 at 11:09 PM (#3432962)
In response to comment 24, perhaps "what the hell" didn't read the statistics about Bert and Doyle and low-scoring games. Bert was 4-11 in games in which he received below average support (i.e., 4 or fewer runs). Doyle was 9-6.

I'm confused now, what the hell. Did Bert get too few runs or too many? It's like you Bert Freaks are like the Three Bears - the run support for Bert has to be just right.

Doyle Alexander was the much better pitcher than Bert in '77.
   26. The Lovesong of J. Alfredo Griffin Posted: January 10, 2010 at 01:39 AM (#3433022)
………………….._,,-~’’’¯¯¯’’~-,,
………………..,-‘’ ; ; ;_,,---,,_ ; ;’’-,…………………………….._,,,---,,_
……………….,’ ; ; ;,-‘ , , , , , ‘-, ; ;’-,,,,---~~’’’’’’~--,,,_…..,,-~’’ ; ; ; ;__;’-,
……………….| ; ; ;,’ , , , _,,-~’’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ¯’’~’-,,_ ,,-~’’ , , ‘, ;’,
……………….’, ; ; ‘-, ,-~’’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’’-, , , , , ,’ ; |
…………………’, ; ;,’’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’-, , ,-‘ ;,-‘
………………….,’-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’’-‘ ;,,-‘
………………..,’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;__ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘-,’
………………,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;,-‘’¯: : ’’-, ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; _ ; ; ; ; ;’,
……………..,’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;| : : : : : ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ,-‘’¯: ¯’’-, ; ; ;’,
…………….,’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘-,_: : _,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; | : : : : : ; ; ; |
……………,’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ¯¯ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’-,,_ : :,-‘ ; ; ; ;|
…………..,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ,,-~’’ , , , , ,,,-~~-, , , , _ ; ; ;¯¯ ; ; ; ; ;|
..…………,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;,’ , , , , , , ,( : : : : , , , ,’’-, ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;|
……….,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’, , , , , , , , ,’~---~’’ , , , , , ,’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’,
…….,-‘’ ; _, ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘’~-,,,,--~~’’’¯’’’~-,,_ , ,_,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘,
….,-‘’-~’’,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; | ; ; | . . . . . . ,’; ,’’¯ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ,_ ; ‘-,
……….,’ ; ;,-, ; ;, ; ; ;, ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘, ; ;’, . . . . .,The Bear says Tommy appears to be a troll!
………,’-~’ ,-‘-~’’ ‘, ,-‘ ‘, ,,- ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘, ; ; ‘~-,,,-‘’ ; ,’ ; ; ; ; ‘, ;,-‘’ ; ‘, ,-‘,
……….,-‘’ ; ; ; ; ; ‘’ ; ; ;’’ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ‘’-,,_ ; ; ; _,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ;’-‘’ ; ; ; ‘’ ; ;’-,
……..,-‘ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;¯¯’’¯ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;’’-,
   27. BDC Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:40 AM (#3433052)
I think I have a new perspective to add on whether Doyle Alexander was better than Bert Blyleven in 1977:

Who cares?

But if one does, it's interesting to note this from B-R PI: Blyleven started 30 games in 1977, with a median Game Score of 65. 23 of his 30 starts (77%) resulted in Game Scores of 50 or better.

Alexander started 34 games, with a median Game Score of 55. 21 of his 34 starts (62%) saw a Game Score of 50 or better.

Now Game Score is just a fun device, not a real serious metric, but it gives points for things that help prevent runs and subtracts them for things that yield runs, the object of the game. And with two pitchers on the same team, it makes for a handy eyeball comparison.

Sooo ... given that Blyleven went out and consistently pitched better ballgames than Alexander that year (which of course gets reflected, like, in his ERA)

then the only way to say that Alexander was better is to resort to some sort of pitching-to-the-score argument, which can't be refuted because it takes W-L record as the only thing that matters, end of discussion. In other words, refuting a pitching-to-the-score argument is like talking to a wall.
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:45 AM (#3433054)
Hopefully next year is the last time we'll have to completely rehash the Blyleven issues.
   29. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:01 AM (#3433060)
In response to comment 24, perhaps "what the hell" didn't read the statistics about Bert and Doyle and low-scoring games. Bert was 4-11 in games in which he received below average support (i.e., 4 or fewer runs). Doyle was 9-6.
Yes, but to repeat my question: how did they each pitch?
   30. cerberus Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:32 AM (#3433109)
Yes, but to repeat my question: how did they each pitch?



STAT **Blyleven ** Alexander

ERA+ ** 151 ** 113
WAR ** 5.7 **3.4
WARP3 ** 5.0 ** 2.9
VORP ** 64.2 ** 44.2
RAA ** 33 ** 15
PRAR ** 48 ** 29
PRAA ** 23 ** 3
DERA ** 3.59 ** 4.40

Blyeven beats Alexander comfortably in every measure.

Alexander does beat Blyleven by having a better w/l record 17-11 to 14-12, which only goes to show people who have a clue, that w/l record is pretty much useless.

I had some time to kill. I know 99% of the astute posters here already knew that Blyleven was better than Alexander in 1977.
   31. xerac117 Posted: January 30, 2010 at 04:13 AM (#3450408)
I came across this article quite by accident and found some of the comments completely lacking any foundation in truth, in particular Tommy in CT in the 8th comment on this article:

Bert pitched poorly in tight games but pitched shutouts when he was given 13 and 14 runs. Alexander pitched great in tight games but gave up meaningless runs in two games in which he was given 11 runs to work with. Bert was 4-11 in games in which he received four or fewer runs of support; Doyle was 9-6.

This was a pattern that played out through Bert's career. Bert was very good with a huge lead, but his performance dipped when the game was tight.

As a point of fact Bert is credited with 15 1-0 wins. Only two pitchers in MLB's modern era are credited with more, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson. It seems as if Bert excelled when the game was tight because that is winning with the barest minimum of run support. He also had a 3-2 win in game 2 of the 1979 World Series. He had numerous other games that he pitched very well (such as in 1972 pitching 10 scoreless innings). I could go on but the fact is Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and I can prove he was a better pitcher than Carlton over the course of their careers.
   32. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 30, 2010 at 04:33 AM (#3450414)
<blockquote>I can prove he was a better pitcher than Carlton over the course of their careers</blockqoute>

I think Blyleven belongs in the Hall, but this is a little bit . . . radical.
   33. xerac117 Posted: January 30, 2010 at 07:41 PM (#3450675)
I will admit, Marlon, that it is a bit radical and I'm going a bit out on a limb with that but actually a lot facts back me up. I'm a big Carlton fan, believe his 1972 season was actually the best season for a pitcher ever (better than Gibson's 1968 season) and have never forgiven Busch for trading him away for Rick Wise (I guess that counterbalances, karma-wise, the trade in which we got Brock). However, when I reviewed their careers I came across some interesting facts. Their careers overlapped for 19 seasons so comparing their careers is very legitimate.

One plus for Blyleven is his career ERA+ was 118 and Carlton's was 115. Also, Blyleven had more shutouts than Carlton. Blyleven's WHIP was better than Carlton's even though Blyleven only had 6 seasons not facing the DH and Carlton only had the equivalent of one season facing the DH. I also figured out that Blyleven was a top 5 pitcher in his league 8 times and a top 10 pitcher an additional 3 times. Carlton, on the other hand, was top 5 five times and top 10 an additional 3 times. In career runs allowed per 9 innings pitched they are the same. That means Blyleven was better when his team's fielding failed and didn't collapse when having to get that 4th out. And here's the real kicker, While Carlton had more career K's he beefed that stat up with pitchers. Take out K's of pitchers for both and Blyleven had more K's. This means Blyleven was better at getting those K's when facing a real batter.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
phredbird
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.4352 seconds
47 querie(s) executed