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;
- 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.
It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.
Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.
“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”
Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.
The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.
The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.
Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.
Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”
Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”
“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”
Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.
After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.
Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.
This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.
Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.
You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.