I’m pretty sure that this is the slowest news day in baseball history. As such, I surfed around for some random Bert Blyleven facts that speak to some of the criticisms and/or put some of his accomplishments in perspective. Yes, there is an undeniable element of cherry picking to this — like I said this morning, Rich Lederer has done the heavy lifting in terms of real argument — but there is an even stronger element of cherry picking to the case against Blyleven’s Hall of Fame candidacy, so why not fight fire with fire? Randomness:
- Oh noes! Blyleven led the league in losses once! Modern-era pitchers who lost more games than Bert Blyleven: Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton;
- Guys who didn’t pitch as many innings as Bert Blyleven: Roger Clemens, Christy Mathewson, Tom Seaver, Tommy John, Greg Maddux;
- People use his wins against him (as in, why couldn’t he get 300)? OK, here are guys who didn’t win as many games as Bert Blyleven: Robin Roberts, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Palmer, Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Jack Morris, Juan Marichal. All but Morris pitched in eras of the four man rotation too;
- Guys who didn’t pitch as many shutouts as Blyleven: Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, Robin Roberts. Actually, it would be easier to list the guys who had more shutouts than Blyleven. There are only eight;
- Guys who didn’t win 10 games or more as many times as Blyleven: Robin Roberts, Carl Hubbell, Fergie Jenkins, Jack Morris, Lefty Grove;
- Guys who didn’t hit as many batters as Blyleven (i.e. he was a badass!): Roger Clemens, Don Dysdale, Pedro Martinez;
- Guys who won more 1-0 games than Bert Blyleven: Walter Johnson, Grover Cleveland Alexander. That’s it;
- What’s with the Opening Day starts thing anyway? Heyman made a big deal out the fact that Jack Morris had been given the ball on Opening Day 14 times in his career, rendering him King Ace or something. Well, Blyleven got the honor 12 times. Is this really a distinction with a difference?
- And the dingers? Sure, Blyleven gave up a lot of homers. But it’s worth noting that five of the seven guys who gave up more homers than Bert are Hall of Famers themselves: Robin Roberts, Fergie Jenkins, Neikro, Sutton and Spahn. Frank Tanana and Jamie Moyer are the other two. Steve Carlton gave up only sixteen less than Bert did. Jack Morris would have given up more than Bert if he had the four seasons under his belt that Bert had over him;
- I know Jack Morris’ ten inning shutout was more important, but Bert Blyleven once pitched a ten-inning shutout, and it was one hitter to boot: June 21, 1976.
- Defense? Eh, not a big part of the discussion for a pitcher, but Bert did go the entire 1976 season without making an error, and that’s pretty spiffy;
Yes, I realize I’m not going to change anyone’s mind here, but when our civilization crashes and future archaeologists dig through our ruins, I would like there to be some collected evidence that Bert Blyleven was a Hall of Fame quality pitcher even if he never makes it.