Tag Archives: Bert Blyleven

Some Hall of Fame catch-up material and links.

Craig Calcaterra collected the choicest nerd-raging quotes from around the blogosphere. My favorite:

Drunk Jays Fans: “Today, Andre Dawson was considered by people whose job it is to cover baseball, to be more deserving of the greatest honour a baseball player can receive than Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Mark McGwire. This is fu**ing dumb.”

One of the biggest concerns stemming from this year’s voting is that the BBWAA just isn’t fit to do their job.  It’s About the Money (stupid!) came up with this fine six-step solution:

  1. Term limits: Those eligible to vote can do so for five years. After that, they must cycle out of the voting pool for at least two years. After that, they can reapply for voting rights for the next five year period.
  2. Voting Board: A group of 10 senior BBWAA members (elected by their peers) who have the ability to remove a writer from the voting pool using a majority vote. This group will be able to decide that if a person, such as Lisa Olsen, who refuses to select any player on any ballot he/she has ever been given deserves to remain part of the BBWAA pool. Making a sham of the vote is reason for being ousted.  Not paying attention is also grounds for dismissal, as what happened last year with Rickey’s vote showed us; sorry, if you’re not taking this seriously, you lose the right to vote.
  3. Credentials: Review the credentials of every person currently eligible to vote for the HOF. If they are not currently writing extensively about baseball, they lose their right to vote. Even if they are in the midst of their term.
  4. Eligiblity: Writers can come from non-traditional media (ie: Internet), however they must be nominated by an existing BBWAA member and must be granted credentials by the Voting Board.
  5. Inclusion of HOF Players: As much as I would like to include all of the living HOF’ers to the pool, I’m concerned about their lack of objectivity. I have heard many HOF’ers the last few days citing the players not currently in the HOF as “guys who absolutely should be in”, though some of these players don’t stand a chance of ever getting in. Especially Tommy Lasorda, who would vote to elect everyone who wore Dodger blue. Also, players from The Steroid Era would face a significant bias from this large group.  Instead of allowing every former player, I would select 20 HOF’ers, on a rotating 3 year term, to vote.  This way, voting blocks would be tough to establish as there were be new voters cycling in every year.
  6. Transparency: Every voter’s ballot MUST be made public. Rationale is strictly voluntary, however.

Probably the best review I’ve read so far, although the selection/de-selection process sounds too stringent.  Maybe just disband the BBWAA and replace it with a group of analysts, scouts and historians who attend the games.  I’ll say it again, reporters have their value in the world, but they’re not analysts and the two jobs should be separated once and for all.  Or maybe make all baseball reporters pass a statistics 200-level course.

Not all of the ballots were made public, but about 70 were this year and The Girl Who Loved Andy Pettitte collected the data and came out with a list of the worst ballots submitted, the worst hypocrisies and the worst attention grabs.

As I wrote in this post, it turns out it wasn’t just Heyman and Jenkins who voted for Morris and not Blyleven.  At least eight ballots mirrored that.

The Jack Morris but no Bert Blyleven Crew

Murray Chass, Jon Heyman, Bruce Jenkins, Danny Knobler, Buster Olney, Dan Shaughnessy, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci all voted for Jack Morris but not Bert Blyleven. If you don’t think Bert is a Hall of Fame pitcher and don’t buy the arguments of people like Rich Lederer that’s fine.We all have different ideas about what the cutoff for the Hall should be. But if you don’t think Bert belongs then there is absolutely no way that Jack Morris should be one.

Stinks, I’ve always looked up to Tom Verducci as a writer. The rest of the article is pretty good, suggested reading to show that at the very least, the BBWAA is bloated and should be slimmed down.

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The BBWAA is really bad at their job.

I can’t go into a full post today because I’m on deadline, but I’ll just link to WAR leaders in both hitting/fielding and pitching.

http://www.baseballprojection.com/war/top500.htm

http://www.baseballprojection.com/war/top500p.htm

Feel free to note how high Blyleven is on the pitchers’ list and how low Dawson is on the hitters’ list. Or that Alomar is higher on that list than Dawson.  Or be the BBWAA and don’t give a s**t about the on-the-field merits of the players inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Expect a full write up sooner or later.

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Bert Blyleven: not a compiler

Bert Blyleven had a 2.39 BB/9 and a 6.70 K/9 in his career.  That’s 1,322 walks and 3,701 strikeouts in 4,970 innings pitched. Note that when he retired, he was third all-time on the strikeouts list behind Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan (Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson passed him afterward).

Four players in history have pitched more than 4,900 innings and had a BB/9 under 3 and a K/9 over 6.  Roger Clemens, Don Sutton, Bert Blyleven and Greg Maddux.  If you relax the standards to 4,700 innings, Tom Seaver joins; to 4,500, Ferguson Jenkins is in.   Maddux will definitely be a first ballot Hall of Famer and Clemens would be if not for off-the-field issues, so why isn’t Bert?

*Also note that I use these stats because a pitcher has total control over how many walks and strikeouts he gives up, while everything else is dependent on fielding.  He also has some control over home runs and ground balls, too, but I’ll talk about that at a later time.

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How do you vote Morris into the Hall and not Blyleven?

It seems Bert Blyleven is on the verge of finally getting into Cooperstown, and the one thing that’s stopping him is nobody really knew about him. There’s no folklore. He was traded regularly to smaller market teams that had hard times competing (MIN, TEX, CLE and PIT), but he pitched at an elite level that entire time.

So why is anyone voting for Jack Morris ahead of him?

This is a general problem when you have people whose job it is to cover breaking news working as analysts–both are valuable to society, but they’re two separate jobs.  In the ’50s and ’60s, it was necessary to have the beat reporters vote for the HOF inductees because there was no database of refined statistics and they were the only people who got to see the players play on a regular basis.

Modern day is different, though.  Through the spread of television, the creation of the Baseball Almanac and the advancing of statistics, citing one-game examples as reasons for election into the Hall of Fame is draconian.  Blyleven is, without a doubt, better statistically and was probably better to watch in person.  But Morris had the benefit of pitching really well in game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Let’s get something straight here: Bert Blyleven had a great career–and also a great post-season record.  He pitched four games in two different World Series’; both were games 2 and 5 (1979 Pirates and 1987 Twins).  Overall, he had a 2.47 ERA in the post-season and a 1.077 WHIP.  A little better than.  Morris, on the other hand, had a 3.80 ERA in 92 IP in the post-season.  This is why small sample size stuff is wrong for analysis–Morris, outside of his 1991 game 7 appearance, was decidedly mediocre in the playoffs.

Let’s not get completely off base, though.  Morris’ game 7, I believe, has its place in Cooperstown as well, but Hall of Fame enshrinement is about the player’s entire work of body.

Morris was a better than average pitcher over his career.  He had a 105 ERA+ in 3,824 innings pitched over 18 seasons.  He had a 1.78 strikeout to walk ratio, which isn’t particularly great and made worse because his BB/9 was 3.3.  There are a few pitchers with worse BB/9 than that already in the Hall, but most of them were terrific strikeout pitchers: Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller and Bob Lemon. The others were either seemingly helped by defense and got into the Hall on ERA (Hal Newhouser) or were likewise elected on questionable merit (Early Wynn, although Wynn had a 107 ERA+ and pitched about 7,000 more innings).

So basically if Morris becomes a Hall of Famer, he would be setting the low bar.

You can use whatever metric you want–even career wins, as fluky as that is; the stats show Blyleven was a better pitcher, and did it in 1,000 more innings than Morris–a career ERA+ of 118 in 4,970 innings. Seriously, look at Blyleven’s and Morris’ pages that I linked to at the top.  It’s not really fair to compare them because Blyleven was so much better.

An acquaintance created this list of the voters who have published their ballot. Pretty cool stuff.

As you can see, a number of votes have been cast for Alomar, Dawson and Blyleven, though Blyleven is favored largely in the stats community and a lot of those dudes post their material online, so who knows. Sixteen votes for Morris out of 36, 25 for Blyleven.  The :-/ emoticon seems appropriate.

Jon Heyman and Bruce Jenkins were the gunmen on the grassy knoll–both voted for Morris and not Blyleven.  You might think they’re doing this just to aggrevate stat fans, but both have made worse analysis and they both have the power to vote.  Their arguments are tenuous at best: Morris pitched on opening day and was considered an ace (regardless of stats), Blyleven is close, but he was a “compiler of stats” (whatever that means).

Whether those two deserve to vote or not, well … that’s something else.

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