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Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame

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T.R. Sullivan has a blog entry on the HOF candidates this year, and has this to say about Bert Blyleven:

I just don't see Bert Blyleven. I just don't. The career numbers are very very good but the year-to-year just does not stand out. I look at him hard every year because people whose opinions I value say he should be in. I just don't see it. I wish I did. Yes, abosolutely there is no doubt in my mind that year-to-year, Jack Morris was the better pitcher.

Blyleven has a better career ERA, ERA+, and WHIP than Morris. He pitched more innings. Morris's best single-season ERA+ was 133. Blyleven exceeded that 6 times. There is no legitimate case to be made that Morris is better than Blyleven, unless you feel won/loss records trump all else.

But here's what is fascinating about Blyleven...compare his numbers to Nolan Ryan, a first-ballot slam-dunk HOF, a guy no one disputes is a clear-cut Hall of Fame pitcher.

Blyleven has a career ERA of 3.31, and a career ERA+ of 118. Ryan has a career ERA of 3.19, and a career ERA+ of 112.

Blyleven has a career WHIP of 1.198. Ryan has a career WHIP of 1.247.

Blyleven has a career WARP3 of 142.0, versus a career WARP3 of 138.7 for Ryan.

Don't like Blyleven's career .534 winning percentage? It is still better than Ryan's career .526 winning percentage.

Blyleven has 7 top 5 finishes in ERA, and 10 top 10 finishes. Ryan has 5 and 8. Blyleven has 7 top 5 finishes in WHIP, and 11 top 10 finishes. Ryan has 5 and 9.

Ryan's top five single season ERA+s (barring the 1981 strike year): 142, 141, 138, 128, 124

Blyleven's top five single season ERA+s (barring the 1981 strike year): 158, 151, 142, 142, 140

So how can you argue that Ryan should be in, but not Blyleven? Ryan's edges over Blyleven are in innings pitched (he hung around several seasons longer than Blyleven), strikeouts (although Blyleven wasn't exactly a slouch in that department), and the no hitters.

Blyleven was a better pitcher than Ryan, looking at their total body of work.

Which is why it baffles me when you have people -- particularly people who supported Ryan going in as a first ballot guy -- arguing Bert Blyleven isn't a HOFer.

Nolan Ryan is one of the most overrated pitchers in baseball history, but he's still a no-question Hall of Famer.

And he also, over the course of his career, was no better than Bert Blyleven.

Which is why Bert Blyleven should be a no-question Hall of Famer, and which is why this continuing refusal by the Hall of Fame voters to elect Blyleven is a black eye for baseball and what credibility the Hall selection process still has.