2) Blyleven's teams didn't score many runs. In fact, Blyleven's teams scored more runs than the average teams during those same seasons.
3) Blyleven had the "bad luck" of pitching when his team didn't score.
Some people have gone through the games and shown that Blyleven got below average run support when he pitched, despite the fact his teammates, on average, scored more runs than other teams. They attribute this to "bad luck".
If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all.
Even if you attribute his teammate's offensive failure to luck, its certainly just as likely that same luck improved Blyleven's own results right along with his opponents. What are the likely explanations that would explain both pitchers doing better than usual?
- A) As the staff ace, Blyleven faced other team's aces. But Blyleven wasn't always the staff ace. On the Twins, for instance, Frank Viola was the staff ace. Blyleven was the number two starter.
- B) Blyleven pitched more often in stadiums friendly to pitchers than his teams played in on average. Of course, that would mean Blyleven's own statistics were improved by the same factor that drove down his run support.
- C) He pitched in games where umpires had large strike zones. Again, Blyleven's own statistics were improved by the same factor that drove down his run support.
- D) His teammates just happened to score fewer runs when Blyleven pitched. Statistically, given the large number of games over many seasons, that is an unlikely explanation.
The most likely explanation for Blyleven's lack of run support is that umpires widened their strike zone when Blyleven pitched and that benefited both pitchers. Given Blyleven's outstanding curve, that is not unlikely. Umpires can be fooled as easily as hitters. If they are calling Blyleven's curve off the plate a strike, they are likely to start doing the same for the other pitchers' pitches. Is that speculation? Yes. But so are all the possible explanations based on luck.
5) Blyleven's low results in the Cy Young award voting should not be a factor.
This is the Hall of Fame. Is there some reason why voters whose peers never recognized Blyleven as one of the premiere pitchers during his career, should now vote him in to the Hall of Fame? Moreover, it wasn't just sports writers who didn't recognize Blyleven. The managers of the allstar teams rarely recognized him as a premiere pitcher either.
Blyleven had a very long and successful career that put him among the leaders in a number of categories. But there are many people that attribute his presence in the leadership more to the length of his career, than to any outstanding success he had. When proponents of Blyleven's candidacy are reduced to siting "win shares" and "ERA+", as the StarTribune did in today's paper, you know they have been reduced to grasping at straws.
I am an agnostic on Blyleven as a Hall of Famer. It would certainly not be an outrage if he was elected, but its not an outrage that he hasn't been. He is, at best, a borderline candidate.