## A bit more on Blyleven

Posted by Andy on December 30, 2007

I know I have written a ton about Blyleven already, but I find it very compelling to see how much support he has gotten all over the place (Sean McAdam, one of the most overrated baseball journalists on the face of the Earth, notwithstanding.) Today I noticed this post over at Cardboard Junkie, which contains a lot of good data.

There are so many searches you can do like this for Blyleven. They are all staggering. Here's one for you:

I went to Blyleven's Pitching Game Finder page and found all the games he started that were team losses where he pitched at least 7 innings and gave up 2 ER or fewer. The full list of such games is here. Bert had 60 such games in his career, with a record of 0-40 in those 60 games.

I calculated his cumulative stats over those 60 starts. He had 478 IP, allowing 389 hits, 114 runs, 90 earned runs, with 127 BB and 373 K.

Think about those numbers:

- That's an average of just a hair under 8 innings per start
- He allowed only 90 earned runs, but the team allowed another 24 (!!) unearned runs to score, which has a lot to do with why Blyleven lost these games. That's a totally ridiculous ratio of unearned runs (but of course the selection criteria is for losses and therefore favors games in which extra runs were allowed.)
- It's a cumulative ERA of just 1.69...and he got 40 losses for such pitching.
- His WHIP over these games was 1.08.

Anyway, I don't know what else can be said about Blyleven. This year's votes are already in, and based on info I have seen online about actual ballots placed by eligible writers, he's not going to get enough votes this year. If that turns out to be the case, you can expect a lot more Blyleven posts from me over the next year.

December 30th, 2007 at 11:41 am

Something more to say: There are various ways to put Blyleven in pretty good company. I combined two measures here, that Blyleven was effective (ERA+ of at least 117) and that he was major-league durable (4900 or more innings pitched). There are only nine pitchers whose careers meet both variables. Here are the nine:

http://www.bb-ref.com/pi/shareit/5672

December 30th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

"There are so many searches you can do like this for Blyleven. They are all staggering. Here’s one for you: I went to Blyleven’s Pitching Game Finder page and found all the games he started that were team losses where he pitched at least 7 innings and gave up 2 ER or fewer. The full list of such games is here. Bert had 60 such games in his career, with a record of 0-40 in those 60 games."

Is that really staggering? Don Sutton had 73 such games. 67 for Tommy John. 78 for Gaylord Perry. 59 for Fergie Jenkins. (those are Blyleven's 4 most similar pitchers, according to baseball-reference)

BTW, I'm not saying that he doesn't belong in the HOF.

December 30th, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Here's what I mean.

Speaking only of games with 7+ IP and 2 or fewer ER:

Tommy John pitched 219 such games that his team won, with John himself earning the win in 198 of those games. He pitched in 67 such games that his team lost, with John himself earning the loss in 39 of them.

So basically, in those games his team went 219-67 (.766 WP) while John himself went 198-39 (.835)

Meanwhile Blyleven pitched 215 such games that his team won, with Blyleven himself winning 193 of those games. He pitched in 60 such games that his team lost, with Blyleven himself earning the loss in 40 of them.

So Blyleven's team went 215-60 (.781) and Blyleven himself went 193-40 (.828)

The numbers for those two players are pretty similar, but let's look at Sutton, for example.

Team wins: 258, Sutton wins 227. Team losses 73, Sutton losses 41.

Team: 258-73, .779, Sutton: 227-41, .847

Compare Blyleven and Sutton. Blyleven pitched 265 such games, Sutton pitched 331. But Blyleven ended up with 40 losses while Sutton got just 41. Sutton was greatly favored by offensive support from his own team. If he had the same support as Blyleven and had an .828 WP in these games, he would have lost 5 or 6 wins from just that pool. And who knows how many games he gave up 3 or 4 runs but still got the win as well.

December 30th, 2007 at 3:06 pm

OK, I get what you're saying now.

Here's another good tidbit about Blyleven...

"Blyleven had six seasons in which he allowed at least 30 fewer runs than the average pitcher. That's as many seasons like that as Tom Seaver -- and more than Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal or Jim Palmer."

March 30th, 2008 at 10:19 am

[...] stat: I’ve written tons about Blyleven over at the Stat of the Day blog. Check it out here, here, here, here, and [...]