Mr. Posnanski, you are a jewel.
My colleague and friend Jon Heyman wrote an entire column this year about why he did not vote for Blyleven, and it’s fair to say that I didn’t agree with much of it.
You know what the problem with Posnanski's posts are? He's a stinkin' compiler! I mean, what kind of hack pumps out cogent, readable articles that I anticipate reading nearly every day. He's like Blyleven with all them Ks!
Jon’s main point seems to be that though Blyleven’s career numbers may be impressive, his career lacked impact.
You are a lot like me, Joe! Except you seem to have a soul, refrain from dick jokes in your writing, and talent.
He never won a Cy Young award (or finished higher than third), he never was a factor in the MVP voting, he only made two All-Star teams.
See when Heyman says this, he's basically wiping his ass with his Blyleven ballot as he types it. When Joe Pos (I'm calling him that from now on, it's very 90s white boy rapper-esque) says it, he be all like, "Antithesis all up in here! Psyche!"
The facts are there, but I guess it depends what you mean by impact.
Never has a word been made so relative over baseball Hall of Fame voting.
Blyleven STILL ranks fifth on the all-time list for strikeouts — wedged between a couple of guys named Carlton and Seaver — and strikeouts seem to have some impact on the game.
And according to B-R, Blyleven compares 4th and 5th respectively in regard to career comparison. You go Joe Po!
He ranks ninth all-time in shutouts, fourth if you only count the years after the deadball era — and shutouts seem to have some impact on the game.
I love you, Joe. That is all. I want to start a site called "Hire Joe Posnanski". I honestly wish we could clone you.
He won more games 1-0 than any pitcher in 90 years — and 1-0 victories seem to have some impact on the game. I guess I would like to believe more in those than in the award-voters who often underrated him* or the All-Star Game managers who usually have their own agendas.
Now that is pitching to the scoreboard. How do you like them apples, Heyman!
*Blyleven was probably the best pitcher in the American League in 1973. This was not seen in his 20-17 record, but he was second in the league in ERA, first in ERA+ and first in shutouts, and he threw a staggering 325 innings. You may or may not have use for Wins Above Replacement, but he finished first in the league in WAR — not just for pitchers but for ALL players. The MVP voters were 30-plus years too young for WAR, however, and gave him one 10th-place vote.
Too bad most MVP voters are still another 30 years away from considering sabermetrics too.
I can remember Steve Garvey, Fred Lynn, George Foster, Dave Parker and many others referred to as “future Hall of Famers” when they were at their peak, and it didn’t quite work out that way. This, I think, is why we wait five years before voting on a retired player. We want to let a lot of that nonsense dissipate.
There was a great comment left on my first Heyman post by MookieTheCat:
I guess my main problem is that, especially in the days before the 24-hour ESPN newscycle (ignoring that ESPN usually misses the finer points) and the internet, there was no way whatsoever to follow anyone’s career with any granularity, unless you happened to be a rabid fan, beat-writer or broadcaster in their home market. Even assuming that Heyman did in fact read every box score every day, how do you remember that? What you’re left with 30 years later is a vague idea of how good someone was, but nothing concrete. I watched every Mets game I could in the mid-80s and read box scores and articles about the games religiously, but when I revisit the stats I’m always surprised at how my own view of so-and-so has become clouded over time. I can’t imagine how perspective changes when you don’t get the chance to watch every game.
Oh. My. Lawd. Joe Pos is masquerading here as MookieTheCat! Well, I'm going to think he is to keep myself excited for other New Years' festivities.
Now, Joe Pos starts dropping dope rate stats (Think last rap battle of 8 Mile) and clinches one for us VORPies.
(Another thing, I remember Heyman was a constant on Fire Joe Morgan and he had nothing but utter disdain for the stat crowd. Granted, he still does, but even with my two pretty vitriolic posts, I don't hold a candle to Heyman's saber-hate.)
I guess my simple comparison of Blyleven and Morris is this: Bert Blyleven won more games with an ERA more than a half run lower and an ERA+ advantage of 118-105. Blyleven struck out 1,223 more batters but, even more remarkably, walked 68 fewer batters. Why are the walks more remarkable? Because Blyleven threw 1,146 more innings than Morris. That’s 127 nine-inning games if you’re scoring at home. And he still walked fewer batters.
Blyleven had a reputation as a gopherball pitcher — well-earned, since his 50 homers allowed in 1986 is still the record — but he gave up fewer homers per nine than Morris. Blyleven threw more than twice as many shutouts, threw 70 more complete games, had a significantly lower WHIP, and he has more than twice as many Wins Above Replacement (90.1 to 39.3). Morris had the better winning percentage, but it has been shown that is almost entirely attributable to Morris’ superior teams. Blyleven also has the better overall postseason numbers. I’ve written about this a million times, it’s out there on the internets if you want to go into greater detail.
It's almost as if they didn't even play the same sport. Blyleven is just that much better.
Now Joe Po starts cracking skulls. And I love it.
Here’s the thing that bugs me most: Jack Morris has a Hall of Fame case. I don’t buy in, but I can see the case. He was an extremely durable pitcher who completed a lot of games and won a lot of games and pitched one of the more famous World Series games ever. There’s a case for him. But to make that case, logic insists that you MUST ACKNOWLEDGE Bert Blyleven first. Because Blyleven was better than Morris in every way that Morris was good. He was MORE durable, and completed MORE games, and he won MORE games, and he was so clearly more dominant in every way that can be recorded. And, as mentioned, when they faced each other in the postseason, Blyleven’s team won.
Jon’s essential explanation for his Morris support is to say “to some degree, you had to be there.” I sometimes say that very thing about a Midnight Oil concert I went to in 1994 — to understand Midnight Oil’s greatness you had to be there. But I would probably concede that doesn’t make Midnight Oil into the Beatles.
I should also say that I think Blyleven will get in this year and we can finally end these kinds of posts.
This just lifted my spirits up tenfold. Thank you.
Happy New Year to everyone at Amazin' Avenue! I look forward to a fun 2011 with less Ken Tremendous rip-off posts (of whom I am the guiltiest offender).