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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Baseball Analysts: Peek: Pride and Prejudice

Let’s hear from a living, breathing BBWAA member (as opposed to most BBWAA members)....as Jeff Peek makes his case for Bert Blyleven.

Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Robin Roberts, Don Sutton, Early Wynn and Phil Niekro are all in the Hall of Fame, and their average stats are nearly identical to Blyleven’s. In the Dutchman’s 4,970 innings (that’s four innings more than the group average), he allowed 91 more hits and 30 more earned runs, but he struck out 438 more batters, allowed 107 fewer walks and coughed up four fewer home runs—which is ironic because one of the big knocks on Blyleven is he allowed too many round-trippers.

So you’re going to deny a guy enshrinement because he gave up one more hit every 55 innings and one more earned run every 166 innings than those other eight Hall of Famers did (on average)?

That’s weak—and unfair.

Repoz Posted: December 15, 2005 at 04:06 PM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 15, 2005 at 04:17 PM (#1778499)
Yay! Another Blyleven thread!
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: December 15, 2005 at 04:30 PM (#1778520)
While Peek is correct on the macro, his micro argument is the kind that bugs the hell out of me.

He gave up more hits and runs.

How does the fact that more of his outs were Ks rather than whatever make up for more hits and runs. I don't care how you get the guy out if you get him out. Bert didn't do that as often as the "control" group, period.

Of course, the difference is still small enough that, yes, of course, Bert belongs. But to think that a K compensates for a hit or a run is silly.
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: December 15, 2005 at 04:31 PM (#1778524)
Along these same lines, I'll never forget when I was a kid and Dick Radatz was at his peak as the big intimidator. In the All-Star game one year, Radatz struck out the side. Oh yeah, he gave up 2 runs along the way. And at the end of the inning the answer proclaimed that the big intimidator had made believers out of the NL because he struck out the side.

Say what?
   4. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: December 15, 2005 at 05:06 PM (#1778565)
Could someone point me to a Blyleven Keltner test?

I'd like to read one before rendering an opinion on this.
   5. villageidiom Posted: December 15, 2005 at 05:07 PM (#1778566)
So you’re going to deny a guy enshrinement because he gave up one more hit every 55 innings and one more earned run every 166 innings than those other eight Hall of Famers did (on average)?

That’s weak—and unfair.


Like hell it is. You have to draw the line somewhere, and with the thousands of MLB players over the decades you're very likely to have some people barely over the line and some people barely under the line, regardless of where you draw it. If you keep moving the line to accomodate anyone who just misses, you'll introduce a new group of people who "just" miss the new line. And by the same logic you'll have to move the line for them. And so on. THAT is weak.

I happen to draw the line to include Blyleven in the HOF. But to suggest that others redraw theirs because by golly he's close enough is a disservice to Blyleven and his case for enshrinement. You need to demonstrate that he's already over the line.

The cases put forth this week have been pretty weak. ("He's a lot like Don Sutton, whose own worthiness is questionable! And he's worse than Warren Spahn! Don't you get it, you moron?!") I've seen so many weak arguments put forth this week that I wouldn't be surprised if the nonbelievers used them as an excuse to ignore ANY supporting argument, even the good ones.

Let me outline it, in case anyone chooses to pursue it:

1. Demonstrate that conventional stats fall short in certain ways, using present-day examples.

2. Demonstrate that these biases in general wash out, but in some exceptions do not. Show that Blyleven is one of those exceptions.

3. Demonstrate that, when you adjust for those biases, Blyleven is better than a significant number of current HOF'ers.

Any argument without #1 or #2 is preaching to the choir, because only the people who already understand and accept those will accept #3. If you want people to get past #1 and #2, you can't just skip to #3 and say, "His ERA+ is great, and I don't understand why you don't get that."

If the first two aren't worth your time, don't bother with the third.
   6. Repoz Posted: December 15, 2005 at 05:25 PM (#1778592)
Yay! Another Blyleven thread!

Wait until manana!
   7. 185/456(GGC) Posted: December 15, 2005 at 05:28 PM (#1778599)
I like these threads. For whatever reason, I prefer this stuff to instant analysis of offseason transactions.
   8. Rich Lederer Posted: December 15, 2005 at 05:28 PM (#1778600)
He gave up more hits and runs.

The difference was negligible. That's the point. One more hit every 55 innings and one more earned run every 166 innings. That is not statistically significant.

How does the fact that more of his outs were Ks rather than whatever make up for more hits and runs. I don't care how you get the guy out if you get him out. Bert didn't do that as often as the "control" group, period.

You're wrong. Bert got batters out at a better rate than the "control" group. He allowed 5954 hits and walks. The control group allowed 5970.

As it relates to runs, first of all, Blyleven's ERA (3.31) vs. the control group (3.26) was virtually the same. His Adjusted ERA (18% better than the league average) was superior to the control group (15%).

The fact that he struck out more batters than the control group shows he was less dependent on his defense. Unlike Jim Palmer, he didn't have Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, Davey Johnson/Bobby Grich, and Paul Blair playing behind him. Instead, he had guys like Rod Carew at 2B and Danny Thompson at SS in MIN, Bill Madlock at 3B in PIT, Julio Franco at SS in CLE.
   9. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 15, 2005 at 05:55 PM (#1778642)
1. That's a strange list of comps. Robin Roberts? Early Wynn? Where are Marichal, Koufax, Gibson, Maddux, Clemens, Palmer, Hunter, Drysdale, Ford? (Fingers, Eckersley, Wilhelm? Glavine, Martinez, Rivera?) "Control group", my left buttcheek.

2. Where does Jack Morris stand? Pretty close if you put it in terms of 1 extra H per 59 IP and 1 extra ER per 13 innings. 1 per 13! Why, that's less than 1 run per game! What difference could that make?
   10. The Balls of Summer Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:04 PM (#1778660)
Morning all. Glad to see everyone here again today.

Seriously, it's like we're all in HOF Standards 101.

Let's get started!
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:05 PM (#1778662)
Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Robin Roberts, Don Sutton, Early Wynn and Phil Niekro are all in the Hall of Fame, and their average stats are nearly identical to Blyleven’s.


Of those eight pitchers, six of them (all but Sutton and Niekro) were considered by contemporary observers to be the either the best pitcher, or among the top 2 or 3, in the league during their careers. There is no contemporary evidence that places Blyleven in their category, and quite a bit of contemporary evidence that places him at a level below the elite.

It is that perception of "non-elite" status that is keeping Blyleven out of the Hall of Fame. Citing his career numbers in comparison to those of other HOF pitchers misses the point of the Blyleven-is-not-HOF-worthy argument, and isn't going to convince anyone whose isn't already disposed to believing that he belongs in the HOF. The argument that comes back is that Blyleven wasn't as good as his numbers - and there is real evidence (some statistical, some not) that he was not, in fact, that good. The evidence being presented in his favor is not sufficiently overwhelming to justify a failure to address the evidence against him, but it is being treated that way, and I think that's wrong.

And FWIW: I don't think he belongs in the HOF, primarily because I'm a "small-hall" kind of guy. I wouldn't have put Sutton or Niekro in, either.

-- MWE
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:21 PM (#1778694)
>Bert got batters out at a better rate than the "control" group. He allowed 5954 hits and walks. The control group allowed 5970. As it relates to runs, first of all, Blyleven's ERA (3.31) vs. the control group (3.26) was virtually the same.

Well at least you're not trying to have it both ways. +0.027% is better and -1.5% is the same.

But like I said, at the macro level Bert is a HoFer. But like villageidiom says, let's at least have honest advocacy.
   13. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:26 PM (#1778705)
Seriously, it's like we're all in HOF Standards 101.

"Babe, I got you babe..." It's like "Groundhog Day".
   14. rr Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:28 PM (#1778706)
That's a strange list of comps. Robin Roberts? Early Wynn?

Why? Wynn and Roberts are both guys with long careers who are in the HOF. As are Jenkins, Niekro etc.

I don't think he belongs in the HOF, primarily because I'm a "small-hall" kind of guy. I wouldn't have put Sutton or Niekro in, either.

This is the basic argument against Blyleven, ultimately. I was around during most of Blyleven's career, and, like Sutton, he was seen as second-tier, below Palmer, Seaver, Hunter and Carlton. In the perception of the time, Blyleven was in the next group, with Sutton, Kaat, John, and to some extent Perry and Jenkins. I would say the latter two were percived as being slightly below the first four but above the Blyleven/Sutton group. Playing on the Twins, Pirates, Rangers and Indians hurt him, too. Had he played on better teams in pitcher's parks--like Sutton did--I think Blyleven would be in already.

Whether you think he SHOULD be depends on a wide range of factors. I don't really remember that much about Blyleven being an asshat--I was a kid/teen when I saw him pitch--but I don't really see that as being enough to keep him out. However, I do think it should be given some weight, given the circumstances of the trades. Niekro, in contrast, played with the Braves all those years they sucked, and never, to my knowldege, caused trouble. Perry and Jenkins did change teams a lot later in their careers.

Personally, I would like to see the HOF reconfigured in several ways, as I think the structural problems with it contribute to the vitriol in some of these kinds of discussions.
   15. Loren F. Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:31 PM (#1778712)
The fact that he struck out more batters than the control group shows he was less dependent on his defense.
Or it could show that the control group was carefully chosen to reflect that.
Or it could show that he struck out lots of batters and he was dependent on his defense; there have been good strikeout pitchers who've played with good or average defensive teams.
The fact that he struck out more batters than the control group may show that he was less dependent on his defense, but the causality isn't guaranteed.
   16. Boots Day Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:43 PM (#1778736)
Wynn and Roberts are both guys with long careers who are in the HOF.

Wynn is perceived as a guy whose sole qualification for the Hall is that he won 300 games. His ERA is easily the highest of this control group, and his career ended well before any of the others' except Roberts had even started. You might as well compare Blyleven to Jesse Haines or Eppa Rixey.

I suspect that if you recalculated the "control group" with more relevant pitchers, like Jim Palmer, or left Wynn out of it altogether, Blyleven would slip toward the bottom of this class.
   17. The Balls of Summer Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:45 PM (#1778742)
Ok, my answers to the arguments against that I presented yesterday:

1. HOF starting pitchers are team players. Blyleven got in fights with teammates and management all the time. He was traded 4 times during the productive part of his career even though he was a very good pitcher. He also walked out on his team in 1980.

This evidence for this argument is non-unique and there is significant evidence to prove that Blyleven was indeed a team player. Many many players have been percieved as malcontents or "bad clubhouse guys" but still been regarded as great players. Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb are a few examples. In addition, many say that Blyleven softened over the years and became a positive influence in the clubhouse.

Beyond that, Blyleven was as team player, because he was a workhorse who gave his team a chance to win nearly every time he took the mound. Blyleven pitched a significant number of high quality innings that kept the game close and saved the team's bullpen.

2. HOF starting pitchers come up big for their team when they really need him. Blyleven did not. (I don't have the evidence for this, but it seems to be a perception and someone could do the research).

Blyleven did come up big in the clutch. He has an excellent postseason record and was a part of two World Series winning teams. He played on three playoff teams during his career and two of them won the World Series. His career W-L record is better in the second half of the season than in the first half.

3. HOF starting pitchers have excellent peak seasons. Blyleven did not. He only won 20 games once (and he still lost 15 that season), he did not win a Cy Young award and he only appeared on two All-Star teams. In addition, on the two World Series teams he played on, he wasn't even the best starting pitcher.

I believe that Blyleven did have a strong peak, but even if you don't believe that, I don't believe that it is necessary for enshrinement.

I don't believe that wins are a good measure of peak, for the reasons that have been outlined. Likewise, Cy Young awards are often win-dependent. As for All-Star teams, these games are played at midseason, which requires a player to have a very strong first half to be put on the team. Blyleven was historically a strong finisher, and I don't think that a half season of stats every year is a fair way to evaluate him.

Instead, to measure peak, I took a look at his best consecutive five years.

1973 - Finished 2nd in ERA (behind HOF pitcher Jim Palmer) and 2nd in strikeouts (behind HOF pitcher Nolan Ryan).

1974 - Finished 4th in the league in ERA (behind 1 HOF pitcher) and 2nd in strikeouts (behind Ryan).

1975 - Finished 6th in ERA (behind three HOF pitchers) and 2nd in strikeouts (behind Frank Tanana, who many believe would be in the HOF without injury).

1976 - Finished 9th in ERA (behind one HOF pitcher) and 3rd in strikeouts (behind Ryan and Tanana).

1977 - Finished 2nd in ERA (behind Tanana) and 6th in strikeouts (behind 3 HOF pitchers).

I think it's clear that Blyleven performed at a very high level for 5 consecutive years, and if he trailed anyone, he trailed HOF caliber pitchers.

However, there is more here. Even if you believe that he did not have a strong peak, I would argue that the high level that Blyleven performed at for a long time is enough to merit him induction. The fact is, the HOF should be in the business of recognizing rare achievers. There are few pitchers that pitched as well as Blyleven for so long. Even if you don't grant him a strong peak, he deserves to be recognized for his entire body of work. Players help teams in many ways, and Blyleven was a top caliber pitcher for over 20 years. Very few pitchers in history can say that.
   18. rr Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:49 PM (#1778750)
Wynn is perceived as a guy whose sole qualification for the Hall is that he won 300 games. His ERA is easily the highest of this control group, and his career ended well before any of the others' except Roberts had even started. You might as well compare Blyleven to Jesse Haines or Eppa Rixey.

I suspect that if you recalculated the "control group" with more relevant pitchers, like Jim Palmer, or left Wynn out of it altogether, Blyleven would slip toward the bottom of this class.


Well, again, it depends on if you are a small-hall guy. If the question is "was Blyleven as good as Jim Palmer or Tom Seaver?" then the answer is no. If the question is "was Blyleven as good as a lot of other guys who are in the Hall?"
then the answer is yes.

Whether guys like Wynn should be in the HOF is a question of taste.
   19. The Balls of Summer Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:54 PM (#1778761)
Now that I've RTFA:

If you answered "no," then it's time to reserve your room in the psychiatric ward.

When did insults become an effective technique for winning converts?
   20. The District Attorney Posted: December 15, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1778764)
I can do a super-quickie, basically worthless Keltner list (then again, those last three words are probably redundant.)

1. Was he ever the best player in baseball? - No.
2. Was he the best player on his team? - No, not in the sense that James intends this question. When he was at his very best, the Twins had Rod Carew. Bert did lead his teams in Win Shares twice (1973 Twins and 1989 Angels [tied]), and would have led either the '85 Twins or Indians (tying Cleveland's Brett Butler) had he not been traded from one to the other in midseason (which may not be worth bragging about, as both teams were horrendous.) But what James is talking about is whether he was the team's best player in general over a period of years, and Bert was never that.
3. Was he the best in baseball/the league at his position? - Again, not in the sense James intends it. He was not Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver or Roger Clemens. He did horrendously in All-Star, MVP and Cy voting.
4. Did he have an impact on pennant races? - He played for three postseason teams ('70 Twins, '79 Pirates, '87 Twins). The '78 Pirates finished 1.5 games back; Bert had his typical very good year (243.2 IP, 123 ERA+). Don't see any other seasons where his teams were within eight games of the division leader. Apparently, he tended to pitch better in the 2nd half in general. I don't know specifically how he pitched down the stretch in these seasons.
5. Was he good enough that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime? - Very much so.
6. Is he the very best player not in the HOF? - What kind of question is this?? If I knew this, would I be going thru all this other crap? I'd personally rather have Santo, but you gotta figure this is either a "yes" or damn close.
7. Are his comparables in? - Yeah, 8 of 10 are in, the exceptions being Tommy John and Jim Kaat.
8. HOF standards? - By James' formula, he's a 50, making him an exactly average HOFer.
9. Significantly better/worse than his statistics? - Better: Bad parks, bad teams. Worse: Supposedly there is a study out there showing that "pitched to the score" criticisms of him have some merit, but I have not personally seen it.
10. Best player at his position eligible, but not in? - Yes.
11. How many MVP type seasons? Did he ever win or come close? - Hardly ever got a vote for MVP (.09 career shares) or Cy Young (.45 career shares.) If you go by WS, he at least looks better than that, but never wins MVP or Cy and only "comes close" to winning Cy once or twice. Specifically: He was 5th in the AL in Win Shares in '73, and 2nd to John Hiller among AL pitchers, 31-29. Jim Palmer, who had 28 WS himself, won the Cy. In '89, 2nd in WS among AL pitchers by a substantial margin behind deserving Cy winner Bret Saberhagen (28-22), and behind many hitters. In '74, 5th among AL pitchers; in '81, tied for 5th among AL pitchers; in '85, tied for 4th among AL pitchers; in all those years, behind many hitters. Checking his other big years, don't see him any higher than 7th in WS among AL pitchers.
12. All-Star? Only made the team twice ('73, '85.) Without having my eyes glaze over any further, certainly also had All-Star type seasons in '74 and '89. Two All-Star Games is a ludicrously low total for a HOFer. Four would still be exceptionally low. Even six or seven would be pretty marginal.
13. If he were the best on his team, could they win the pennant? - If he were the best pitcher? Sure. If he were the best player? No; you'd have to cherry-pick his best year, which is not the spirit of the question.
14. Impact on baseball history/change the game? - No.
15. Sportsmanship/character? Walked out on his team in 1980; see here. Was traded often, and personality conflicts with the organization seem to have often been factors in that. Generally, reputation as "cantankerous," though his reputation softened later in his career.
   21. The District Attorney Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:01 PM (#1778778)
Addendum to #4: Good postseason record (4-1, 2.47 in 8 G/6 GS).
   22. TDF, trained monkey Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:06 PM (#1778786)
Or it could show that the control group was carefully chosen to reflect that.

No. The players listed are (1) contemporaries (except Roberts - I wonder why he's included?) who (2) had long careers (all in the top 26 all time) and (3) are HOF members. No one else (except Ryan - I wonder why he's left out?) fits all 3 criteria.

Or it could show that he struck out lots of batters and he was dependent on his defense; there have been good strikeout pitchers who've played with good or average defensive teams.

I don't know what it means, but he gave up slightly fewer unearned runs than the group - one UER every 24.85 IP vs. 23.2 IP. Or, he allowed an UER every 84 balls in play; if he had an average number of SO, he would have allowed about 5 more UER, or 9 fewer than the group. That would drop him to one UER every 24.24 IP. Still, a small but real difference.
   23. _ Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:06 PM (#1778787)
I'm a "small-hall" kind of guy. I wouldn't have put Sutton or Niekro in, either.

Or Hunter or Drysdale or Lemon or Chesbro or Eckersley. This is where I diverge from the standard argument trying to convince the BBWAA. Clearly, by their standards, I don't see how they can keep him out. Not with Catfish Hunter and Don Sutton in there. I think Blyleven is better than all those guys, but if you take out all the guys who (I think) shouldn't be in, he's just a marginal candidate.

Rich makes a very good point about Palmer's defensive support - it's something that I came to realize when I was comparing them - yet I still don't think it's enough. How much are we supposed to extrapolate? I'd guess that many, many HOF careers, just as in real life, are products of good fortune and circumstances. What if Palmer had been in Minnesota and Blyleven in Baltimore? Yes, but we can only go on what actually happened. I know - 60 shutouts actually happened, and they are very impressive, but I'm still on the side that sort of sees him as second-tier among his contemporaries, with only one truly great season (1973).
   24. Boots Day Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:09 PM (#1778792)
Leaving aside the statistical analysis for a moment, Wynn has a couple of markers that move him ahead of Blyleven:

* A five-time 20-game winner

* A career 300-game winner

* A Cy Young award, despite the fact that it wasn't around for most of his career.

Any one of those would almost certainly put Blyleven in the Hall.

Early Wynn was clearly perceived as better throughout his career than Blyleven was, as shown by his three Top Ten MVP finishes (Blyleven had zero). What drops him below Blyleven in the career-numbers game is that Wynn would mix in subpar seasons like 1948 (8-19, ERA+ of 74) and 1957 (14-17, ERA+ of 86) alongside his CYA-quality seasons.
   25. rr Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:11 PM (#1778798)
One other point: Palmer was also known as something of a jackass and a prima donna. I can't prove it, but I suspect if you put Palmer in Minnesota from 1970-76 (mostly mediocre teams with mediocre D in a hitter's park) and Blyleven in Baltimore from 1970-76 (good to excellent teams with excellent D in a pitcher's park) they might be perceived very differently and have very different numbers. I assume Lederer may have posted a road-stats comp of them somewhere; I would be interested to see what it showed.

Note: I am not saying that Blyleven was as good as Palmer. I don't have the knowledge base to make that assertion one way or the other.
   26. Boots Day Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:20 PM (#1778818)
No. The players listed are (1) contemporaries (except Roberts - I wonder why he's included?)

And Wynn. Wynn and Roberts had the highest ERAs in the group, and they're the only two that aren't contemporaries. Hmmm....
   27. Kyle S Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:21 PM (#1778824)
I think the fact that there is still so much argument proves what a lot of people here believe: he's a very good HOF candidate, but not a "surefire" HOFer. He wouldn't make the BBWAA look like fools if he was elected, but (IMHO) his absence doesn't make them look like fools either. After all, just as someone has to get left out of the NCAA tournament and complain about how unfair it was that Team X got in instead, there will always be someone who didn't make the HOF who can point to another HOFer who deserves it less than they.

A lot of the hubbub around Bert's candidacy seems to boil down to the 300 win line; if Bert had won 13 more games, he would be elected to the HOF. Yes, the line is arbitrary. As BL said, so is a 70% requirement for passing a test; there is nothing intrinsic in the 70% number that makes it "just." But 287 wins isn't 300, and focusing on how many wins Blyleven "should" have had is misplaced. One might argue that they failed a test because the questions they faced were slightly harder than the questions someone else (who passed the test) faced; it might even be true; but this doesn't change the fact that they failed.

Playing games with Bert's win total isn't necessary though because plenty of pitchers have made the Hall without 300 wins. My favorite statistic that makes Bert's case is shutouts - Blyleven is 9th all time in this statistic, and well ahead of many all-time greats. I think he should get in. But I also see why others think he shouldn't.
   28. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:32 PM (#1778861)
If I told you that only one pitcher in the history of baseball (Nolan Ryan) ranks higher than "Pitcher X" in all three of the following categories -- wins, strikeouts and shutouts -- would you put "Pitcher X" in the Hall of Fame?

Did you know that only one pitcher has more losses, bases on balls, and hit batsman than Blyleven? That pitcher would be Nolan Ryan.

Blyleven is 15th all-time in hit batsmen. I'd like to see that included in the baserunners allowed figures in this article/thread.

Also was 7th all time in HR, 11th in losses.

Wynn and Roberts are in no way contemporaries.
   29. Backlasher Posted: December 15, 2005 at 07:52 PM (#1778914)
except Ryan - I wonder why he's left out?


Because it would throw a great big ole monkey wrench in that strikeout argument.

And Wynn. Wynn and Roberts had the highest ERAs in the group, and they're the only two that aren't contemporaries. Hmmm....


I just wanted to note this because its not often I agree with Bootsy.

Clearly, by their standards, I don't see how they can keep him out. Not with Catfish Hunter and Don Sutton in there.


I think the former differentiator is primarily All Star Games and perceptions. Catfish had a bunch of AS appearances and was considered one of the best pitchers in the game through most of the early '70s.
   30. BWC Posted: December 15, 2005 at 08:57 PM (#1779062)
Many many players have been percieved as malcontents or "bad clubhouse guys" but still been regarded as great players. Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb are a few examples.

Yeah, and they produced at ALL-TIME elite levels. If Ted Williams is a jackass in the clubhouse, you deal with it. If Milton Bradley or Carl Everett acts like a prima donna, you start looking for ways to get them out of town.

As to the peak argument, finishing 4th, 6th and 9th in ERA is impressive, obviously, but I wouldn't hold it up as evidence that the guy was some kind of immortal.

FWIW, I think Catfish is one of the real mistakes the BBWAA has made (yes, BL, I know why he's in there--he was superfamous for pennant winning teams), so I wouldn't bother making any comparisons between him and Bert, any more than I would compare Blyleven to Nolan Ryan (whose profile is just too unique to be used as a comparison to anyone).

And I'm of the opinion that the size of the hall is what it is (if you want a "small hall" or "large hall" you can go build a separate institution), and if you're going to honor the top 200 or so players of all-time, Blyleven warrants a spot on that list.
   31. Boots Day Posted: December 15, 2005 at 09:36 PM (#1779161)
I know why he's in there--he was superfamous for pennant winning teams

I don't think it was the pennants that did it. Catfish won, in consecutive seasons, 21, 21, 21, 25, and 23 games.

You don't need a whole lot of credentials beyond that.
   32. The Balls of Summer Posted: December 15, 2005 at 10:45 PM (#1779267)
Yeah, and they produced at ALL-TIME elite levels. If Ted Williams is a jackass in the clubhouse, you deal with it. If Milton Bradley or Carl Everett acts like a prima donna, you start looking for ways to get them out of town


It's a good point, and I guess this is when you start weighing accomplishments. Was Blyleven's on-field performance enought to outweigh any allegations of "not a team player." I'd say yes.

As to the peak argument, finishing 4th, 6th and 9th in ERA is impressive, obviously, but I wouldn't hold it up as evidence that the guy was some kind of immortal.

I'm not, I'm just using it as evidence that he had a strong peak. Not a Koufax or Martinez peak, but still very strong.
   33. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 15, 2005 at 11:04 PM (#1779300)
I can see why people think he shouldn't be in. But, those same people put Sutton, Niekro, and Wynn in, with the only difference among the four being that Blyleven didn't win at least 300 games. That's why the arguments tend to dwell on that. Big hall or small hall is irrelevant to this discussion, because we're arguing about whether he should be in the HOF, the one that there actually is, and that one has pitchers in it who were about the same as Blyleven was. Some of those pitchers had baggage, too. Perry was thought by many to be a ball-doctorer, and yet that seems to be regarded as "cute" by the sportswriters. Hell, I feel that way myself, but it does definitely show a double-standard on their part.

I am someone who goes for the "big" hall, maybe because I like to recognize everyone's unique contributions. Were Frank Bridge or Andre Campra as great as Beethoven? No, but they'd be in my composer HOF if I made one.

But as I've said before, probably too many times, I don't give a #### about the HOF anyway.
   34. Boots Day Posted: December 15, 2005 at 11:23 PM (#1779332)
But, those same people put Sutton, Niekro, and Wynn in, with the only difference among the four being that Blyleven didn't win at least 300 games.

I think that's stretching it a bit. Wynn, as I said above, also has five 20-win seasons and a Cy Young Award, and if Blyleven had either credential, he'd be in.

Meanwhile, Niekro won 31 more games than Blyleven, and Sutton won 37 more. That's a whole bunch of wins, greater than the difference between Jim Palmer and Dennis Martinez, or between Bob Gibson and Jerry Reuss.
   35. The Balls of Summer Posted: December 16, 2005 at 12:08 AM (#1779387)
I think that's stretching it a bit. Wynn, as I said above, also has five 20-win seasons and a Cy Young Award, and if Blyleven had either credential, he'd be in.


Of the HOF pitchers in the Cy Young Award era, only Ryan, Sutton, Niekro and Marichal never won one. And Marichal was battling for only one award against the likes of Koufax and Gibson for a good portion of his career.

The more I look at this, I think the right argument is to prove that career value is greater than or equal to strong peak.
   36. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 16, 2005 at 12:13 AM (#1779392)
Who is the worst pitcher in the Hall that "deserves" to be there? Who comes the closest without "deserving" it? Those seem like good questions to answer before touting/dissing Blyleven. We all are familiar with the gross mistakes: Marquard, Pennock, Fingers, Haines. But Sutton: mistake? Why or why not?

Personally, I don't think it would be bad if the line were drawn at the best ten-year stretch of TPI (the Total Baseball number, solid for pitchers IMO and a very comprehensive stat) being 20: lower is out, higher is in. That includes all the inner-circle guys, plus guys like Walsh, Newhouser, Lemon, Coveleski, Willis, Plank, and a few others. It would "disinclude", among others, Ryan and Koufax. When I can get a building contract, I'll make <u>that</u> Hall and nobody will come, but it'll be right, dammit. Plus I'll see to it that it'll have better likenesses on the plaques.

(By that arbitrary line-drawing, Blyleven's first 10 years easily meet the standard.)
   37. rr Posted: December 16, 2005 at 12:41 AM (#1779420)
I checked out some H/A data on Blyleven and Palmer on Retrosheet. It was interesting, but (admittedly just glancing through it) it did not seem to be a huge factor on a consistent basis.
   38. rr Posted: December 16, 2005 at 12:48 AM (#1779427)
I meant a huge consistent factor in BB's favor...the numbers jumped around a bit.
   39. BDC Posted: December 16, 2005 at 12:10 PM (#1779888)
If you answered "no," then it's time to reserve your room in the psychiatric ward

I have to agree with Balls (#19) ... When I started this week, Blyleven was the only player on my HOF "ballot," and I have supported him for many years. I am now *less* convinced than I was before I read this series of articles. The tone is starting to get to me. This isn't as if the Hall has left out Tom Seaver, you know.

I guess I still think Bert should be in. My argument is close to Peek's, without the "you're a nutcase if you don't agree" fillip. I think that without Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame doesn't make much sense, even if Ryan was not always a terribly effective pitcher. And I think that Blyleven, not always terribly effective either, but with great totals in Strikeouts and Shutouts, is Nolan Ryan Lite. So I think he's a Hall of Famer. But I think that people who omit him from their ballots are stone cold seriously healthily sane.
   40. Mister High Standards Posted: December 16, 2005 at 02:36 PM (#1779970)

I'm not, I'm just using it as evidence that he had a strong peak. Not a Koufax or Martinez peak, but still very strong.


But thats not a strong peak for a hall of famer. It is actually lacking imho.

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