What is the Hall-of-Fame’s biggest mistake? Bobby Mathews? Vada Pinson? Tommy John? Jim McCormick?
So, before I go any further… Yes, the HOF’s biggest mistake is Pete Rose. There is no debating that. But let’s be honest. Pete Rose messed with the integrity of the game. Do I think he should go in? Yes. But I understand about him being banned for life. So when I talk about a player going into the HOF, I understand that Pete Rose is the unequivocally greatest player not in the HOF.
Now, the question is: who’s next? None other than Bert Blyleven.
Why he belongs…
287 wins. That’s #27 on the All-Time List. There is this remarkable Line of Demarcation in between those above 300 and those below. Every eligible member of that club is in the HOF. How much of a difference is 13 wins? It was apparently enough for Robin Roberts (RIP), Fergie Jenkins & Red Ruffing. How much more different is Bert Blyleven? According to http://www.baseball-reference.com, the average wins for a HOF pitcher is 251. Blyleven had 36 more wins. He did have a 20-win season and finish in the top 10 6 times.
3.31 Lifetime ERA. He finished in the Top 10 10 times.
Top 10 in Innings Pitched 11 times, leading twice. He finished with 4970 Innings Pitched, good for #14 on the All-time list. Only one person above him is not in the HOF-Greg Maddux. So I think this needs to be looked at. Blyleven is the highest on the list not in the HOF.
Top 10 in Games Started 9 times, leading once. He started 685 games, good enough for #11 on the all-time list. Tommy John has him beaten by 15 for #1 on the “Not on the HOF” list. I’ve discussed Tommy John and why he belongs in the HOF here.
Top 10 in Complete Games 12 times, leading once. He had 242 lifetime Complete Games, good enough for #91. Now, if you look at it in terms of an era, you have to get to #39 before you find somebody who pitched during the same time as Blyleven (Gaylord Perry), #63 for another one (Ferguson Jenkins). Above Blyleven on the Shutout list are 6 pitchers who pitched at least a single year Blyleven did. Blyleven was one of the best complete pitchers of his era.
Top 10 in shutouts 10 times, leading 3 times. He had 60 shutouts, good enough for #9 on the all-time list. You have to go to #21 before you find somebody not in the HOF. (Luis Tiant)
Strikeouts-Perhaps this is the greatest glaring mistake by the HOF voters. Blyleven is #5 on the all-time Strikeout list. He finished in the top 10 15 times (7 of those years he was bested by Nolan Ryan or Steve Carlton). The 4 above him… Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens & Steve Carlton. I don’t understand how somebody could have more strikeouts than Walter Johnson, Tom Seaver & Cy Young and not be in the Hall-of-Fame.
Bert Blyleven belongs in the Hall-of-Fame more than perhaps any other player. BBWAA, it’s time to get on the ball and give this legend his due.