1. Todd Boss said...

    I see three or four decent seasons with inexplicable gaps in performance where he’s literally not worth trading for replacement players.

    Oh, actually that’s exactly what he was.  Anyone who actually SAW Blyleven pitch during his era knows this dirty little secret; he was not that good.  His election is clearly the result of revisionist history stat-heads who think that his career WAR somehow changed his actual performance on the field. 

    If he was so fantastic, go look who he was traded for, several times in his career.  What hall of famer routinely was traded for pennies on the dollar? 

    I say congrats to him that he got in, but will maintain he is not one of the best 30-35 starters in the history of the game (he became the 31st starter elected to the HoF).

  2. Tim said...

    @/BobbyRoberto-“With Rankometer, we examine a pitcher’s career by visualizing how his WAR stacked up against his peers each season.” Not against the greatest of all time.
    @Paul- I agree he was good for a long time, he just wasn’t great. A lot of people were good for a long time.
    As I said earlier, people who saw him didn’t think of him as great, this is a stats thing and I think you can make stats say close to whatever you want.
    When you start letting people in who were merely good or even very good you diminish the HOF and start letting in people like Pettitte because if you can stretch for Blyleven Pettitte doesn’t look so ridiculous.

  3. Tim said...

    I made one of the requests that a graph be done on Blyleven and thanks for doing so. I watched him pitch many times throughout his career and never thought I was looking at a HOFer. He was a nice pitcher, better than average but never to be confused with the greats, at least, not to me and I don’t really recall anyone else thinking so at the time. When Clemens and Johnson and Koufax and Martinez were talked about as their careers went on they were always referred to as future HOFers. It was that obvious. As I said, I don’t believe anyone who saw him ever made such a reference.  His graph looks a little better than I thought it would but honestly the inconsistency in his career does not suggest HOF. He’s in and that’s that but I hope this won’t be a new trend.

  4. Shazbot said...

    I’m not certain how you can take it as a bad thing that a player had great seasons 18 years apart.  Particularly with many great seasons in between them.

  5. Bob B said...

    @Tim: I don’t at all see how “if you can stretch for Blyleven Pettitte doesn’t look so ridiculous.”
    Aside from the fact I don’t think Blyleven was a stretch I just don’t see Pettitte as being close to Blyleven. Just looking at ERA+ shows their rate as nearlier the same (118-117 in Blyleven’s advantage) and Blyleven threw nearly 2000 more innings!

  6. BobbyRoberto said...

    “I will say this, in a 22 year career, I expect a HoF pitcher to be in the top 5 pitchers in the league more than 3 times. Sure he’s got 4-6 other seasons that were close, but I’d be more forgiving of that if he ranked as the best pitcher a couple times.”

    I believe this is top pitchers in all of baseball, not just the league, and if you adjust your expectations from top 5 to top 10 then you find Blyleven had 9 such seasons.  Nine seasons finishing among the top 10 pitchers in baseball is impressive to me.

  7. Paul said...

    Brad if you think BB’s graph compares similarly to Mad Dog’s then I suggest you take another look.

    GM – 1st (2); top 3 (7); a large continued period of dominance (9 straight yrs as a top 5)

    BB – 1st (0); top 3 (3); patchy career (v. good years mixed in with average years)

    Might be fair to say that GM had a higher competition as well (RJ, Martinez, most of Clemens, as well as other potential HoF like Smoltz, Muss, Schill) – though BB overlapped with plenty of good ones himself

    Not a knock on BB, I was happy he made it into the HoF, and he should’ve got a lot more CY votes (and probably at least 1 win), but the narrative for BB is not based on being elite, it is based on a combination of longevity of v. goodness, occasional greatness, and being underappreciated at the time by the CY voters, AS votes, writers for what he did do well (good K, low BB CG monster)

    Would love to see Halladay and also the forgotten Johan Santana (hope he comes back as good or nearly as good as he was)

  8. Brad Johnson said...

    Perhaps he thinks the columns are percentiles from replacement level to elite?

    Todd, in all seriousness, I really suggest that you follow the hyper link above and look at how guys like Pettitte, Randy Johnson, Clemens, and Maddux performed relative to their peers. It sounds you’re describing a Pettitte like player while at least from this graph we have a completely different perspective.

    I will say this, in a 22 year career, I expect a HoF pitcher to be in the top 5 pitchers in the league more than 3 times. Sure he’s got 4-6 other seasons that were close, but I’d be more forgiving of that if he ranked as the best pitcher a couple times.

  9. HuskerDru said...

    @Tim – he didn’t mean ranked against the greatest of all time, but against pitchers in both Leagues (not just his own) for that season.

  10. hit man said...

    CRY-levin will always be a member of Pittsburgh’s Hall of Shame. Inexcusable to quit on your team like he did. Pair that up with his good but not great numbers and there is simply too much love for this guy. His nomination definitely lowers the bar.

  11. Bob B said...

    @hit man: Regarding Blyleven’s election to the Hall Of Fame, I would state instead that it definitely does NOT lower the bar.

  12. Kevin Dame said...

    There have been some questions about the methodology I used. I am using WAR from Baseball Reference / Sean Smith. 

    Also, since my original post, I discovered some errors in my data (where pitchers who were traded mid-season had their WAR split into two parts, thus dropping them in the rankings). I have new Rankometers with this bug corrected and will re-post a few that changed the most. Pettitte looks even worse.

  13. Matthew Cornwell said...

    This is Fangraphs.  I would prefer to see Rally’s version – it would make a big difference for a lot of these guys.  These are guys with loads of batters faced – plenty of time for their BABIP, sequencing, etc. to be recognized as “skill”.  FIP leaves out way too much for men with such lengthy careers.

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