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Is it Bert Blyleven's time?
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Author:  Wabberjocky [ Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:17 am ]
Post subject:  Is it Bert Blyleven's time?

I say yes.

Jayson Stark, long a naysayer, is finally on board:

If Blyleven ever makes it to Cooperstown -- and he might, now that he's finally over 50 percent of the vote -- he'll owe it to men like Bill James, Rob Neyer and the bright statistical minds who now look at baseball in so many insightful new ways.

Until last year, I was one of those people who thought of Blyleven as a not-quite candidate, 287 wins or no 287 wins. But James did an incredible start-by-start study of Blyleven's career that convinced me it was only bad luck that kept him out of the 300-win club.

And Lee Sinins' indispensable Complete Baseball Encyclopedia proved just how dominant Blyleven was by computing how his Runs Saved Above Average compared to the greatest pitchers of modern times.

Blyleven gave up 344 fewer runs in his career than the average pitcher of his time. In the entire live-ball era, the only eight pitchers who beat him in that department are Roger Clemens, Lefty Grove, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Tom Seaver, Carl Hubbell and Bob Gibson.

Does a guy who hangs out with that crowd sound like a Hall of Famer to you? He sure did to me -- finally.

Author:  Wayne Countryman [ Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is it Bert Blyleven's time?

I've never felt strongly about Blyleven. Maybe he deserves more acclaim--and even Hall membership.

I'm skeptical about over-reliance on stats. Does anyone get excited talking about the wondrous pitching of member Early Wynn, who stuck around forever to get 300 wins before most of us were born? Was he better than Blyleven? I doubt it.

However: I agree that comparing players of similar eras or the same era, including their stats, offers useful context.
As does the work of statistical wizards like James and Neyer in factoring in differences like park dimensions and run support.

Blyleven doesn't have the rep of being a clutch pitcher, like Jack Morris and Catfish Hunter, for instance. But if your team doesn't make the playoffs despite your good efforts, you don't get TV time the way Hunter and Morris did. [I know some folks deny there's a such thing as clutch hitting; how about clutch pitching? Or does "clutch" refer to only a single at-bat or batter faced?]

Author:  Wabberjocky [ Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:41 pm ]
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But the reality is that if Blyleven had gotten even league-average run support throughout his career, he'd have between 310 and 320 wins. And he'd be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

To me, this is one case in which stats DO tell the most important part of the story.

Author:  jjmoney62 [ Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:43 pm ]
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And if Ray Burris got to pitch with the Reds and the Yankees in the '70s instead of the Cubs and hung around for 20 years he might have gone on to win 287 games

Author:  Wabberjocky [ Tue Jan 09, 2007 2:09 pm ]
Post subject: 

Nah. Ray Burris wasn't very good for very long.

Apples and pomegranates.

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