Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Baseball Writers Elect Two to Hall of Fame

Today the results of this years Baseball Hall of Fame balloting was announced. Congratulation to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice on their elections.

Henderson was a no brainer choice as the all time leader in both stolen bases and more importantly in runs scored. Bill James once, when asked about whether Henderson was a Hall of Famer, replied "you could cut Henderson's career in half and you'd have two Hall of Famers."

Jim Rice is a somewhat controversial pick. He was elected on his 15th and final year on the ballot. Rice had a few great years, a few really good years and then he fell off a cliff performance wise. He will not be the worst player in the Hall of Fame, but the there are several better players who aren't close to election. Just looking at other left fielders, Albert Belle was a comparable if not better player and he fell off the Hall of Fame ballot after one election. Regardless, congrats Mr. Rice.

More egregiously than the selections were the omissions, the writers have not elected a starting pitcher whose career started in the last 40 years. The most glaring oversight is the continued failure to elect Bert Blyleven. Blyleven pitched from 1970 to 1992 and finished his career 3rd all time in strikeouts. Even being retired 16 years he remains 5th all time in strikeouts and 9th in shutouts with 60. The thing the myopic writers seem to be holding against Blyleven is his won loss record which is as much or more a reflection of the offensive talent of a pitcher's teammates than the pitcher's talents. Bert is credited with 287 wins. Thirteen more and he'd have 300 would likely have been elected on his first or second go around. Sully of Sully Baseball took a game by game look at Blyleven career and found 42 games where he got a loss or no decision that likely would have gone the other way with a little offensive support. Here is a little of his research:

1971 with Twins
LOSS - 8 IP, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 hits, 5, K's. Twins lose 1-0. May 2.
NO DECISION - 10 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 hits, 6 K's. Twins lose 2-0. September 1.

1972 with Twins

LOSS - 10 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 Hits, 9 K's. Twins lose 1-0 in 11 innings. September 27.
NO DECISION - 10 IP, 0 ER, 6 BB, 7 Hits, 10 K's. Twins lose 1-0 in 11 innings. July 8.

One thing that jumped out from that data was how many times Bert pitched more than nine innings. I knew he was a horse that pitched a lot of complete games, I just didn't realize how many times he pitched ten or more innings. I wonder what the modern record is for number of games pitching more than 9 innings. Bottom line: If voters stopped looking at matters largely outside a pitcher control (wins and losses) and actually took the time to evaluate his K's, WHIP, ERA, ERA+, SHO's, CG's, etc, which measure his performance they would have to consider him worthy.


Blogger bob said...

Why should election to the H.O.F. be done with more concideration than the presidency.

January 12, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Blogger Sully said...

Thanks for the link...
And I don't care WHAT you think about Jim Rice...

He's in the Hall and there is NOTHING you can do about it!!!


January 12, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Blogger Sully said...

I didn't realize election to the Hall of Fame was done with more concideration (sic) than the Presidential election.

Was this year's Presidential election not given enough coverage for you?

Was it buried on page 8?

January 12, 2009 at 2:58 PM

Blogger Sully said...

I don't 100% think that wins are out of a pitcher's control.

Pitching well enough to win usually will mean you will. I know some people (not you specifically) think wins are irrelevant because it has to do with luck.

I always like what Napoleon asked about a potential general. "Is he lucky?"

But wins can't be the end all be all for someone's candidacy either. As I wrote... 13 more wins and Blyleven is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

(Another topic... is there anything more overrated than the concept of a First Ballot Hall of Famer? You are either a Hall of Famer or you are not!!! Joe DiMaggio wasn't a First Ballot Hall of Famer. Does anyone think less of him?)

January 12, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Blogger LargeBill said...


I suppose in a moment of lucidity I would admit that the presidency is more important than the HoF.


I said congratulations to Jim Rice in my post. There is nothing I would attempt to do about it.

I believe Bob was not referring to coverage of the election but rather the decision of some people who to support.

I wasn't claiming that wins are 100% out of a pitchers control just that it is one of many metric to use in rating pitchers and one of which they are not in complete control. My animus is towards those who claim pitcher A pitches just well enough to lose (after a 2-1 loss) or pitcher B pitches to the score (after a 7-5 win).

January 12, 2009 at 7:22 PM

Blogger LargeBill said...


Concur that a Hall of Famer is a Hall of Famer regardless of whether unanimous on 1st ballot or elected on 15th. Or even a mistake like Rizzuto elected through the VC. Hall of Famers are not ranked by the Hall. In is in.

January 12, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Blogger bob said...

Exactly, Bill People tend to vote on feelings rather than facts.
Just like wins weigh heavier than other stats,stump speeches outweigh voting records.

January 13, 2009 at 1:46 AM


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