One Hall step forward, one step back

Congratulations to Roberto Alomar, one of the greatest second basemen in the history of the game, on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner, Robbie is well deserving of enshrinement. The only reason he wasn’t chosen in his first year of eligibility was the incident in which Alomar spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. One single moment of stupidity — and it was stupid, no question — in an otherwise exemplary career shouldn’t keep the guy out of the Hall. Now, it won’t.

As for Bert Blyleven, I’m glad he finally made the Hall on his 13th attempt for one reason, and one reason only: We won’t have to listen to him whine anymore about not being elected.

Here’s the bottom line on Blyleven. He played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball, during which time he racked up 287 wins and 3701 strikeouts. But we’re talking about the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Hung Around Forever. If we’re going by longevity, Jim Kaat and Jamie Moyer should be in the Hall (at least, Moyer should be if he ever retires), and no one who knows anything about baseball is going to make either of those arguments.

The fact is that Blyleven was a good pitcher, but nowhere near a great one. He won 20 games only once in 22 seasons, even though he played in an era when 20 wins was the gold standard of excellence for top starting pitchers. Heck, Mike Krukow won 20 for the Giants once — should Kruk be in the Hall? Blyleven only won as many as 19 once. At the same time, he posted seven — count ’em, seven — sub-.500 seasons. That’s seven years in which he lost more games than he won. That’s nearly one-third of his career. Does that sound like a Hall of Famer to you?

No one who ever saw Blyleven pitch — aside from a handful of snow-blinded Minnesotans — thought he was the best pitcher of his time, or even one of the best. He never won a Cy Young Award. He never placed higher than third in the Cy Young voting. He was chosen as an All-Star twice. Twice — in 22 seasons. Again… does that sound like a Hall of Famer to you?

It’s no accident that the most statistically similar pitcher to Bert Blyleven was Don Sutton, another somewhat-better-than-average pitcher who rolled up deceptive numbers simply by virtue of avoiding career-ending injury for more than two decades. The Hall of Fame should not be rewarding players just for being lucky. Don Sutton — who, like Blyleven, won 20 or more games only once, and was never a Cy Young front-runner — doesn’t belong in the Hall, even though the baseball writers saw fit to enshrine him.

Bert Blyleven doesn’t belong in the Hall either.

Roberto Alomar does.

Explore posts in the same categories: Hero of the Day, Ripped From the Headlines, Sports Bar, Taking Umbrage

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