Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bert Blyleven, one more time

SI's John Heyman is not voting for Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame. Again.
Bert Blyleven's Hall of Fame case continues to be the most controversial and interesting one ever, certainly among those not tainted by the steroid issue. His candidacy has stirred more debate and arguments than any other player's, and it isn't even close.

This was the 14th straight year that I did not vote for Blyleven, and as a "no'' voter, I feel compelled to explain my decision...
But he's willing to talk about it, which is a good thing. He did this last year, and I addressed it, making the case that Heyman's argument essentially boils down to "Blyleven's teammates didn't score enough runs when he pitched." (He wouldn't express his argument that way - I would.)

I'm not going to go through all of the numbers, again. I want to look at it from a little bit different perspective.

Over a five year period from 1998 through 2002, Curt Schilling started 158 games for Philadelphia and Arizona. In that span, he pitched 1175 1/3 innings, allowing 1054 hits, and striking out 1229 while walking 222. He allowed 446 runs of which 435 were earned, for an ERA of 1.35. I think we can see that he was a very valuable pitcher during that stretch. There were only three pitchers in baseball for that period with 1000 innings pitched and a better ERA than Schilling. It's an excellent pitching performance.

And it's less than the difference between the career's of Bert Blyleven, whose HoF candidacy Heyman does not support, and Jack Morris, whose he does. To get to Blyleven's career numbers, you have to add 158 starts to Morris'. You've got to add 1146 innings and 1223 strikeouts. You've got to add 67 complete games, of which 32 are shutouts. You've got to add 214, of which 173 are earned, for an ERA of 1.36. And you still can't actually get there, because, despite the innings difference, Blyleven walked 68 fewer batters.

Blyleven perspective
GSCGShoIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWP ERAK9BB9HR9
Curt Schilling '98-'021584271175.3310544464351412221229160303.339.411.71.08
Blyleven - Morris15867321146106521417341-68122397-8-911.369.6-0.880.32

So essentially, Bert Blyleven had Jack Morris' career, plus five peak years of Curt Schilling's career. It's difficult to see how one could rationally think that Morris is a worthy candidate and Blyleven isn't.

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