As a kid I remember my favorite names: Archi Cianfrocco, Pete Incaviglia, Dale Sveum, Steve Beuchele. (This was before I discovered Jack Glasscock.) But one of my favorite names as I would peruse my baseball cards as a kid was Vida Blue.
But does a really cool name make him Hall-of-Fame worthy?
Why he belongs:
Does one year put you in the Hall-of-Fame? If it does, 1971 was a year that legends are made of. An MVP and Cy Young Award in the same season. Look at this list of names who have accomplished this feat: Dennis Eckersley (Hall-of-Fame), Roger Clemens (HGH purgatory), Willie Hernandez (relievers are the Hall’s red-headed stepchildren), Rollie Fingers (Hall-of-Fame), Denny McLain (?), Sandy Koufax (Hall-of-Fame).
3 20-win seasons
6 All-Star Games
Top 10 finish in ERA & Wins 6 times each
#95 on All-time Win List
#88 on Innings Pitched List
#54 on Strikeouts List (above names like Dazzy Vance, Catfish Hunter & Whitey Ford)
#57 on Shutouts List
http://www.baseball-reference.com lists similar players as Hal Newhouser, Catfish Hunter & Don Drysdale
Why he doesn’t belong:
Does one season put somebody in the Hall-of-Fame? Then why isn’t Roger Maris in the Hall-of-Fame? Or Tip O’Neil for 1887 (He batted .435 with 167 runs)? What about Tom Brown’s 1891 (scored 177 runs with 106 steals)? Lefty O’Doul had 254 hits in 1929 batting .398. George Foster had a great 1977, winning the NL MVP and hitting 52 home runs. Guy Hecker went 52-20 in 1884, with 385 strikeouts. What about K-Rod’s 2008? One season does not a good career make.
His Cy Young season in ’71 was stuff legends are made of. But what about ’77 where he led the league in losses, hits and earned runs (19)?
The year he got the highest percentage of the vote on the regular ballot was 1993 with 8.7%. He was the 18th-highest vote-getter that year. Only one player was elected that year (Reggie Jackson). Three would go on to election (Phil Niekro, Orlando Cepeda & Tony Perez). The voters that year thought 17 players deserved in the Hall-of-Fame more than Vida Blue. To me, if the BBWAA only saw 8.7% believe Blue belonged in the Hall-of-Fame, what’s changed?
I am still not sure on this one. Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor has him at 114. (~100 is a Hall-of-Famer) The other three on the Hall of Fame statistics have him below the standards. My answer is a very painful no.