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Bert Blyleven Belongs In the Hall of Fame

I know it. You know it. He knows it. They should know it.

I did this a couple of years ago, but I thought it's a good time to revisit those things that make Bert one of the best pitcher's in the history of the game. How does he stack up in the all-time lists?

Stat Rank Notes
Wins 27th 287. That's the magical number. We've heard for years that wins are over-rated as a stat for pitchers, but that 300-win barrier still matters when people cast their votes. Only two pitchers in front of him have more wins and are eligible for Hall membership (Tommy John, Bobby Mathews). Lesser win totals that belong to pitchers in the Hall: 268 (Jim Palmer), 251 (Bob Gibson), 239 (Mordecai Brown), 224 (Catfish Hunter) and many more. Yeah, I'm pretty sure 287 is enough. And don't give me any of that "he only had one 20-win season" nonsense. He won 287 games.
Innings 14th Surpassed by Greg Maddux in 2008, every single eligible pitcher in front of Blyleven is in the Hall. Three of the next four eligibles behind him are also enshrined. It's realistic to think that, in today's game, nobody will ever catch his 4970 innings again. Javier Vazquez would have to pitch 13 more seasons and average 200 innings per to catch him in his age-45 season.
Strikeouts 5th 3701 strikeouts. Of the top eligible seven strikeout pitchers in the history of the game, Blyleven is the only one not in the Hall. Both Randy Johnson (still active) and Roger Clemens (not yet eligible) are in front of him, but they're both sure shots. Nobody is going to match this total again anytime soon--again, Vazquez would have to average 150 strikeouts for the next ten years to pass Blyleven. Johan Santana has an outside shot if he can pitch into his 40's while staying a strikeout pitcher. C.C. Sabathia could catch him by the time he's 40 if he averages 200 strikeouts a season until then.
Starts 11th Seven of the eight eligible pitchers in front of him are enshrined. Tom Glavine is just three starts behind him, in 12th place, but all three guys from 13th - 15th place are also in the Hall of Fame. Bert started 685 games. If Mark Buehrle can start 33 games a season over the next 12 years he can catch him in his age-42 season.
Shutouts 9th Bert has 60 career shutouts. Every pitcher with 50 or more in his career (that's 20 guys) is in the Hall, except for Bert.
HR Allowed 8th If you can pitch long enough to allow 430 home runs, you were good. But in conjunction with the rest of his numbers, all it means is that he's great. And considering Bert pitched 22 seasons, that's less than 20 bombs a year. Besides, five of the six pitchers who are eligible in front of Bert are enshrined--and if they can be in after allowing that many homers, so can our favorite Dutchman.
Losses 10th Bert lost 250 times, and he deserved fewer than that. Still, of the nine men with more career losses than Blyleven, eight are in the Hall of Fame.
Batters Faced 13th All twelve of the pitchers in front of Blyleven are in the Hall. Four of the next five eligibles behind him are, too. Bert faced off against 20,491 batters, and barring perfect health and assuming most active pitchers won't pitch until they're older than 45, I don't think anyone's going to catch him.

To me, the fact that a guy has to wait this long to get the membership he's earned is ridiculous. Either a guy belongs or he doesn't, and Bert does. His career speaks for itself, his numbers are worthy of induction.

Again, I would be remiss if I didn't point this out: according to, Bert's top ten career comparibles are:

Don Sutton
Gaylord Perry
Fergie Jenkins
Tommy John
Robin Roberts
Tom Seaver
Jim Kaat
Early Wynn
Phil Niekro
Steve Carlton

  • Tommy John and Jim Kaat, the only two on that list who are NOT members of the Hall of Fame, have impressive resumes and could easily have their own arguments for Hall membership.
  • For the last fifteen years of Bert's career, the only two pitchers who appear on his "most similar by age" list are Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

If Bert doesn't make it, he'll have two more chances to make the Hall before his 15 years of eligibility expire. He will make it eventually, but it's just getting to the point where we all know he deserves it and we all know he's going to get let's just get it over and done with. Give the man the recognition he deserves.