Just How Good was Bert Blyleven?
Bert Blyleven is in the Hall of Fame at last!!Â It took fourteen years on the ballot to do it but the writers finally saw the light.Â This was a true victory for sabermetrics â€“ as recognized in the following clip from the Associated Press.
â€œThe great curveballer won 287 games, threw 60 shutouts and is fifth with 3701 strikeouts.Â Â This was his 14th time on the ballot and his career stats have gotten a boost in recent years by sabermetricians who have new ways to evaluate baseball numbers.â€
Why have I been saying for years that Bert deserved to be in the Hall?Â Because there has never been any question that he has Hall of Fame numbers.
Bill Jamesâ€™ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.Â It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.Â The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player had.
According to the CAWS Gauge, Blyleven has two solid credentials for induction into the Hall.Â First, Bert is one of only twenty-three (23) pitchers in modern times (since 1920) who have accumulated 300 career win shares in the major leagues.Â And the CAWS Gauge suggests that any pitcher who has 300 win shares deserves to be in Cooperstown. And, now that Bert has been elected, every pitcher with this distinction who has been eligible has been inducted. Here are those pitchers (Clemens, Maddux, Johnson and Glavine are not yet eligible).
The first number is career win shares, the second is core value (the win shares for the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS score [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS â€“ CV)].Â Bold print indicates the player is in the Hall of Fame.
The second credential that establishes Blylevenâ€™s place in the Hall is that his was the #16 best career by a starting pitcher in modern times.
Check the list above and you will find fourteen pitchers ranked above Bert.Â There is one missing since he did not earn 300 win shares in his great career â€“ but he certainly did have HOF numbers.
With the 2011 ballot, Bert Blyleven has finally been granted his rightful place in the shrine in Cooperstown.Â After a long wait, appropriate recognition for a great pitching career.
Michael Hoban, Ph.D. is a retired professor of mathematics.Â His new book, A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook will be available soon.