Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar Get Their Day!

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Today is a special day for Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar as they will soon be officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Alomar was voted in by the BBWAA with 90.0% of the vote in his second year of eligibility. He had a stellar career with 2724 hits, 210 HR, 1134 RBI, .300 BA, 10 Gold Gloves and 2 World Series titles. The 12-time All-Star second baseman certainly had the numbers to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer but many believe an unfortunate incident where Alomar spit on umpire John Hirschbeck's face during an argument tarnished his image and cost him a few crucial votes last year, thus denying him of first-ballot status. Alomar wound up with 73.7% of the vote just missing the required 75% in his first year of eligibility.

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In later years, Alomar would make peace with Hirschbeck and made all necessary efforts to repair his image. In fact, Hirschbeck himself has said that Alomar deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Well today the day has come for Alomar.

Blyleven's road to enshrinement was quite a bit longer than Alomar's. It took Blyleven 14 years on the ballot to finally creep in with 79.7% of the vote. He too fell a whisker short last year with 74.2% of the vote. When hearing the news that he had (finally) been elected, Blyleven said, "It’s been 14 years of praying and waiting. I thank the Baseball Writers of America for, I’m going to say, finally getting it right."

For his career Blyleven was 287-250, with 3701 K, 60 shutouts and a 3.31 ERA. Over the years, many people have criticized him for being a .500 pitcher who was only an innings-chewer and some have said he wasn't even Hall of Fame-worthy. Others keep pointing to his eye-popping 250 career losses and have suggested that it's one of the reasons why it took 14 years for him to "barely" get in.

In his column today, AP Sports writer John Kekis wrote, "Though he lost 250 games, Blyleven threw 60 shutouts (ninth all time) and logged 242 complete games, finishing his career in 1992 with 3,701 strikeouts (fifth all time). He also made 685 starts (11th all time), pitched 4,969 1-3 innings (14th all time), and was 3-0 in League Championship Series play and 2-1 in World Series games."

The key word in Mr. Kekis piece is "though"-- though he lost 250 games-- as if that's a bad thing.

Well let's take a look at that. Is losing 250 games a bad thing?

Here's a list of the 10 all-time leaders in career losses:

1. Cy Young+ - 316
2. Pud Galvin+ - 310
3. Nolan Ryan+ - 292
4. Walter Johnson+ - 279
5. Phil Niekro+ - 274
6. Gaylord Perry+ - 265
7. Don Sutton+ - 256
8. Jack Powell - 254
9. Eppa Rixey+ - 251
10. Bert Blyleven+ - 250

+ Baseball Hall of Famers

As we can see, only some of the greatest pitchers of all-time are on the list. With the exception of Jack Powell (who pitched in the dead-ball era), every pitcher on the list is in the Hall of Fame.

The point is, for you to hang around long enough to lose 250 games, you must be doing something right for many many years. Career losses could be deceiving because, as the list proves, only some of the game's immortals have been able to lose 250 games. This tells me that in many of those games they pitched well enough to win otherwise they wouldn't have been in the league for all those years.

And looking at it from a different angle-- based on the stats, if you lose 250 games, you have a 90% chance of making it to the Hall of Fame.

So the notion that Blyleven's 250 losses was a detriment to his career is simply not true because, from what I see, only iconic pitchers have what it takes to reach that milestone. And if I'm Blyleven, I'd be proud to be on that list with all those all-time greats, no question about it.

Blyleven touring the Hall of Fame. Courtesy: Topics.areavoices.com
Congratulations to Blyleven and Alomar, they both are well-deserving of this honor.

MY 2012 HALL OF FAME PREDICTION: Barry Larkin with 81% of the vote.

Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

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