Random Bert Blyleven facts

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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.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!