Baseball BeatJanuary 04, 2011
Latest Update on Bert Blyleven's Chances for the Hall of Fame in 2011
By Rich Lederer released the ballots from the ESPN writers who are voting members of the BBWAA this morning. Fourteen of the 18 writers (77.8%) voted for Bert Blyleven.

Here are the 14 that voted for Blyleven: Howard Bryant, Jim Caple, Jerry Crasnick, Gordon Edes, Pedro Gomez, Tony Jackson, Tim Kurkjian, Ian O'Connor, Peter Pascarelli, Brendan Roberts, Adam Rubin, Mark Saxon, Claire Smith, and Jayson Stark.

Barry Stanton, news editor for ESPN, did *not* vote for Blyleven (or Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, or Tim Raines), yet he voted for B.J. Surhoff plus Tino Martinez, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, and Edgar Martinez. It looks like if your last name started with "M" you had a better shot at getting Stanton's vote than if you were fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth all-time in shutouts, and in the top 20 all-time in wins since 1900. Why someone like Stanton has a vote is beyond me.

In any event, Blyleven has now received 82 of the 105 full ballots (78.1%) that Darren Viola (aka Repoz), the editor-in-chief of the Baseball Think Factory, has gathered from voters who have either posted their selections publicly or confessed to him privately. If this sample size is indicative of the overall total, then Blyleven should narrowly gain admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the results are released tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's hoping that Bert Be Home Blyleven (as in 2011). Those of us who have supported him can help the cause by keeping our fingers crossed for the next 24 hours.


Generally I don't get worked up about this stuff. 75% is a pretty tough standard, and I think the gray area is very large and harder to sort out than others claim. I might not have voted for Rice, but 75% of the people did, and I pretty quickly moved on to calling him a Hall of Famer and being OK with it.

All I ask is that the writers vote what they actually believe. Stanton does not really believe the ballot he sent in, obviously, which means he should not vote. The 75% rule means that not voting for someone is the same as voting NO. Stanton's "no" means Blyleven (and Alomar) need to find three "yes" votes just to get back to the line. Stanton's ballot just pisses on the whole process.

Hopefully, Stanton's ballot gets wide publication and he gets hammered by his colleagues for his ridiculous submission. Surhoff gets a courtesy vote, yet guys like Alomar, Larkin, & Raines get ignored?

I'm assuming that Bert gets passed over as a middle finger to bloggers and sabermetricians. Palmeiro gets ignored as a PED guy (I assume Bagwell got tarred with that brush without the proof).

Stanton must be a NYC guy; that's the only reason I can see Mattingly (a marginal candidate) and Martinez (not close to the player even Mattingly was) getting his nod.

An absurd ballot, with basically no connection to reality.

Ok, MLB or the Hall of Fame needs to revoke the rights of voters like Stanton, who obviously aren't taking it seriously. Sure, everyone's entitled to their opinion and viewpoint in how they determine the best in the game are the best in the game.

I undertsand he's probably holding Raines coke days against him.

I undertsand he's probably holding Alomar's spitting incident against him.

I think he's assuming Bagwell must've done steroids without any evidence.

I get that, and as wrong as I feel that is, I understand he quantifies "fame" differently than some of us do. That's the beauty of a voting process. But really... his ballot is a total joke.

In what world view does BJ Surhoff seem so significantly better than Barry Larkin, that Larkin isn't Cooperstown worthy but Surhoff is?

It looks to me like Barry Stanton's got a vote & clearly doesn't take this seriously. Meanwhile tons and tons and tons of baseball fans do not have a vote, but take it seriously. Cooperstown, should feel insulted by voters that show hypocritical biasedness in their votes.

You know what turns so many baseball fans off? The blatant ignorance of the reality of Blyleven's situation as a player in the face of all these new stats that deign to show just how wonderful he is and how he's better than every pitcher not named Cy Young who has ever played the game.

Just because someone does NOT vote for Blyleven doesn't automatically make him an idiot. Why did Blyleven only get 17% of the vote on his first ballot? Doesn't that tell you something? Writers at the time knew what players knew at the time and what fans who were actually alive and frequently watching baseball in the mid 70s know. That Blyleven was a journeyman pitcher with a healthy arm and penchant for pitching a lot of innings. Thats why he has precious few all star appearances, relatively little Cy Young recognition and was not regarded as a leading pitcher during his time.

He was traded multiple times for no-name players, he was merely an accumulator of stats, he had a mediocre K/9 ratio (ranking him 124th) and achieved so many Ks simply because he threw a gazillion innings. Is that the hallmark of someone who deserves to be only the 21st starting pitcher EVER elected (not selected by a veteran's committee) to the Hall? I say no.

I'm sorry. I can't consider shutouts a 'new stat'. The man won what, 16 1-0 shutouts?

I suppose they don't count because that's 'compiling', and something a journeyman pitcher does. As we all know, journeyman pitchers are known for winning 1-0 games. I think there was a man on Stanton's ballot who was known for one of those.

His career happened, and you can, and should, look at it right now. Blaming him for accumulating stats is blaming a pitcher for pitching too much, too well, for too long.

Yes Bert is worth being the 21st starting pitcher elected to the hall of fame. Blaming him for pitching a gazillion innings is wrong.

And if you get to count him earning 17% of the vote in his initial year, I get to mention his 74% last year. What does that tell you? That two-thirds of baseball writers are capable of acknowledging they made a mistake?

Calling Blyleven a journeyman (translation, mediocre) pitcher has to be the most uninformed thing ever posted. I watched plenty of baseball in thge 70's and 80's and no one had a better curve than Blyleven. Take away K's of pitchers and Blyleven moves ahead of Carlton (remember, Blyleven spent 70% of his career having to face the DH while Carlton spent nearly his entire career in the NL). Also, Blyleven's ERA+ is ahead of Carlton and Ryan. ERA+ is more accurate than just straight ERA.

Being picked to only two All Star Games was a matter of ignorance and stupidity, not of knowledge. Look at the 1974 season and try to justify Blyleven not finishing at least 2nd in the CYA voting, let alone having deserved to actually win it. In 1985, Blyleven received the most points in the CYA voting of any starter but lost out to a reliever (back then, voters had a "love affair" with relievers). Ryan never once won the CYA and never once led all starters in points received.

Blyleven had 15 complete game 1-0 wins. Only Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson had more such complete game wins.

Someone will point out about the number of HR's Blyleven gave up. However, Niekro gave up more and also gave up more per inning pitched. Sutton and Hunter also gave up more HR's per inning pitched. Yet, those three are in the HOF.

Now let's take a look at the careers of Blyleven and seven of his contemporaries who have previously been elected to the HOF: Catfish Hunter, Don Sutton, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver.

Career Shutouts - Only Sever and Ryan had more and then only by one more.

Strikeouts - Only Carlton and Ryan had more but Carlton inflated his numbers by getting to K a ton of pitchers.

ERA+ - Only Seaver and Palmer have a higher ERA+

WHIP - Only Seaver and Sutton finished in the top 10 and top 5 more often.

BB/9 - Only Sutton finished in the top 10 and top 5 more often.

K/9 - Only Carlton and Ryan finished in the top 10 and top 5 more often.

K/BB - None of the other seven finished in the top 10 or top 5 more often than Blyleven.

ERA+ - Only Seaver finished in the top 10 more often and only Seaver and Palmer finished in the top 5 more often.

Sorry for being so long-winded but it's clear to see Blyleven was much more than a journeyman/mediocre pitcher. It's as clear as possible that he was underestimated, underappreciated and underrated. And it is also clear to see if you don't factor things like the DH into a lot of the stats used you will make some huge mistakes in assessing a pitcher's career.

Stanton confirmed his idiocy today at ESPN when in a chat he justified his ballot by saying his Surhoff vote was to fulfill a promise he made to BJ 35 years ago (sweet, I guess?) and he voted for Tino Martinez because he was the heart of 4 WS Champions.

I suppose the ol' courtesy vote for Surhoff isn't that awful. Dumb and a little unprofessional, but it doesn't really affect anything. And Mattingly does at least have a case (a marginal one, IMHO, since if he'd played in MN he'd have been Kent Hrbek). But Tino Martinez? I was all ready to come apologize to Mr. Stanton, because I thought later I'd screwed up and Barry had voted for EDGAR Martinez. (Which is at least an interesting argument) But Tino Martinez is absurd. There were 5 other 1Bs on the ballot clearly better than Tino (3 if you exclude the 'roiders, 2 if you screw Jeff Bagwell and assume without proof that he was dirty)!

Someone take away his ballot, please.