Jim Mone/Associated Press
Bert Blyleven pitched for the Twins for 11 of his
22 seasons, wearing a cap with both the
Minnesota “M” and the “TC” for Twin Cities.
By Tyler Kepner
By the time Roberto Alomar started his major league career, in 1988, Bert Blyleven had nearly completed his. Blyleven pitched three more seasons, quietly compiling some of the more impressive statistics in major league history, as Alomar embarked on a career as one of the most dynamic second basemen the game has seen.
Both were elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Alomar in his second year on the ballot, and Blyleven on his 14th. Alomar received 523 of 581 votes, for 90 percent, while Blyleven finished with 463, for 79.7 percent. Candidates needed 436 votes, or 75 percent, to be enshrined.
Barry Larkin was third in the voting, at 62.1 percent, followed by Jack Morris (53.5 percent), Lee Smith (45.3 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (41.7 percent). In his first election after admitting to steroid use, the former slugger Mark McGwire dropped to 19.7 percent, his lowest share in five appearances on the ballot. Rafael Palmeiro, who hit 569 homers but failed a drug test in 2005, received only 11 percent.
Alomar and Blyleven narrowly missed induction last year, when Alomar collected 397 votes and Blyleven 400, with 405 needed. With both coming so close last year, it was no surprise that they made it this time.
Of the 21 players to receive 70 percent to 75 percent of the vote in previous elections, 16 were voted in the next year. The other five also made it to Cooperstown eventually, mostly through the veterans committee.
|Jim Mone/Associated Press |
Roberto Alomar played three stand-out seasons in
Baltimore after five years with Toronto. He
played for seven teams in his career — 13 years
in the American League and 6 in the National.
Blyleven did not receive even half the votes until 2006, his ninth year of eligibility. But many bloggers mounted an aggressive and persuasive campaign on his behalf, emphasizing Blyleven's value beyond his mediocre .534 winning percentage.
Blyleven ranks high in two categories that show a pitcher's dominance: strikeouts (fifth, with 3,701) and shutouts (ninth, with 60). Every other pitcher in the top 20 in shutouts is in the Hall of Fame, as is every other eligible pitcher in the top 17 in strikeouts.
He also ranks highly in a much newer statistic, Wins Above Replacement, which attempts to show how many victories a player produces compared with a replacement who might be called up from Class AAA. According to baseballreference.com, Blyleven ranks 13th on that list, and was the only eligible pitcher among the top 27 who was not already in Cooperstown.
Alomar's case was more obvious to voters. He made 12 All-Star teams in a row, from 1990 through 2001, while winning 10 Gold Gloves at second base. Like Blyleven, he played for two World Series winners and generally excelled in the postseason.
Signed by the San Diego Padres out of Puerto Rico in 1985, Alomar spent his prime years with three teams — the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians — helping all of them reach the playoffs.
Alomar is one of only two players to have a .300 average and at least 2,700 hits, 200 home runs and 450 stolen bases. (The other is the Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.)
Alomar's productivity came to an abrupt halt after a trade to the Mets before the 2002 season, and some voters may have penalized Alomar for spitting in the face of the umpire John Hirschbeck during an argument in 1996. But Hirschbeck has forgiven Alomar, and many other greats have faded late in their careers.
After a one-year wait, Alomar has made it, with a pitcher who waited a whole lot longer.
From the NY Times; 1/5/2011