Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, if not only because of that awesome shirt, but he was a very good pitcher. Let’s face it, baseball’s Hall of Fame has turned into “the hall of very good,” and Blyleven deserves in. He fell 5 votes shy today for being an inductee, but he is a sure money bet of making it next year. Andre Dawson is the lone candidate and the entire ceremony will be dedicated to the former great of the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs. In the following article, I try to make my case for Bert Blyleven to be inducted in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Blyleven played during a time, when multi-channel ESPNs and regional Fox Sports Net channels did not exist and MLB Extra Innings packages on DirecTV wasn’t even invented, you may not have caught Bert Blyleven’s best work. Unless you caught the highlights on Sportscenter where Chris Berman used a nickname of Burt “Be Home” Blyleven, you would just think that he was an average pitcher. His career ERA was 3.90, but his early career was his peak, but he kept a roster spot on small-market teams. His record was 287-250, just 37 games over .500, but from 1982 until the end of his career in ’92, his ERA was over 4.00. If a pitcher wins nearly 300 games, it nearly negates this feat once a pitcher reaches his 250th loss, like Blyleven.
An argument that Blyleven has for his induction is that his numbers are measurable to Nolan Ryan’s. Blyleven does not have Ryan’s no-hitters or his dominance of one-hit games either. Blyleven’s win-loss record has a lot to do with Blyleven’s teams not scoring many runs, thus having him lose many one-run games. He pitched in a different era than what today’s pitchers will be held up to. Middle-relief pitching was approached as need-based, rather than a necessity, Blyleven pitched in almost 300 career complete games.
Let’s crunch some numbers, in his 22-year career, Blyleven pitched a complete game in over 40% of the games in which he has started. He has never ranked higher than third in the Cy Young voting and has only played in two All-Star games in his 22-year career.
Bert Blyleven will be immortalized into the Hall of Fame. Sometimes players start racking up statistics just cause longevity and not exactly superb play. Blyleven’s 3701 strikeouts are amazing, but his K/9 statistic of 7.4 per 9 innings isn’t super spectacular, but nothing about Blyleven really is. It’s a solid number and Blyleven was a solid pitcher and long-term performance needs to be rewarded with an induction in Cooperstown.