Blyleven finally makes the Hall of Fame

It took quite a long time – 14 years to be exact – but Bert Blyleven is in the Hall of Fame.

Bert Blyleven

Circle me, Cooperstown! Associated Press photo

Blyleven crossed the 75 percent threshold during Wednesday’s 2011 vote and will join Roberto Alomar at this summer’s induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y.

At some point, it does become difficult to ignore Blyleven’s career accomplishments. Top 5 all-time in strikeouts. Top 10 all-time in shutouts. Two World Series titles. Impressive career ERA. All of 287 victories. He didn’t have the peak years – back-to-back Cy Young Awards or anything like that – but still, the career numbers are impressive.

I blogged last year about who I would vote for if I had a ballot. Unfortunately, I didn’t and still don’t, so this blog was my imaginary ballot. I failed to do that this year, but my ballot would have been the same except for Andre Dawson, who was already voted in last year.

I was pleased to see Barry Larkin make a 11 percent jump to 62 percent. He seems a sure lock to get elected in the next few years. Also, Tim Raines jumped 7 percent this year to 37 percent of the vote. I feel he’ll go the route of Blyleven and slowly work his way in. Edgar Martinez saw a 4 percent drop to 32 percent. I think his numbers are incredible and worthy of induction, but I don’t believe he’ll get elected. Too many people have doubts about his candidacy becomes he was a full-time DH and spent a lot of time injured, not to mention the fact that he didn’t really take off at the big league level until he was 27.

Early returns favor Blyleven

One of my favorite December and January blog activities last year was checking out Baseball Think Factory’s website and its “Hall of Fame Ballot Gathering Machine.”

Bert Blyleven

Is this the year that Bert Blyleven gets circled by the Hall of Fame? Associated Press photo

The website takes the ballots posted online by writers that vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame and combines them to figure out percentages and see who is on pace to get elected this year and who will get snubbed.

I learned last year that you can’t take too much from it. Early returns had Roberto Alomar getting in and he surprisingly didn’t. But in the case of former Minnesota Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven, the returns weren’t far off from the final tally.

This time around, Blyleven has enough votes so far among those voters who has made their picks public, sneaking past the 75 percent threshold needed for induction. According to these returns, Blyleven and Alomar would make it in, with Barry Larkin coming up just short. But I do emphasize that it is extremely early with just 71 ballots in so far.

Blyleven got 74 percent of the vote last year. Nobody has ever gotten that close without eventually getting elected.

It’s interesting how with some of these players, I feel like I become bigger fans of them after they retire than when they played. Tim Raines and Edgar Martinez are examples of that. I’m convinced Raines will one day get in, that his numbers show he was likely one of the five greatest leadoff hitters in baseball history if not one of the three best. And Martinez does well with modern-day numbers like OPS, though his inability to stay healthy and lack of time spent doing anything other than DH-ing hurts him. He probably never will get in.

But I think Raines will. He got only 30 percent of the vote last year. But I’ve noticed a lot of the voters on MLB Network have given him the nod this year, and the early returns have him at 52 percent. So things are looking up for him.

One other link worth checking out is the ZiPS projects for the 2011 Minnesota Twins. Some interesting projections:

  • Japanese import second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka is picked to hit .281 and steal 38 bases. Twins would probably take that. He’s also picked to get caught stealing 17 times though.
  • Closer Joe Nathan, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, is projected to post an ERA of 3.00 for 2011.