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If wins don’t matter for the Cy Young Award, how about for the Hall of Fame?

Nov 18, 2010, 4:59 PM EDT


It was nice to see Felix Hernandez win the Cy Young Award today, chiefly because it showed that the Baseball Writers Association of America is past the point where they believe wins to be the ultimate arbiter of which pitchers are good and which are bad.  Well, they’ve been past it a while actually, what with Greinke and Lincecum winning it last year, but this year was certainly significant in that they resisted the urge to give the award to someone who had hit the magic number of 20 wins.

But what of other votes and other magic numbers?  Such as the Hall of Fame and 300 wins?  Will the Hall of Fame voters finally let Bert Blyleven off the hook this winter for “only” getting 287 of them and let him have his plaque?  Will they finally let go of the old “Jack Morris won more games in the 1980s” thing and cease his undeserved march towards induction?  Will they — like they did with Felix Hernandez — look deeper at what a pitcher actually can control and what actually makes him better and reward it, rather than the wins?

I’m not hopeful. Partially because there is so much more of a time investment and an emotional investment in Hall of Fame voting than in Cy Young voting, and it won’t be easy for the Jon Heymans of the world to reverse themselves from silly positions they’ve taken in the past. It’s a lot easier for someone to have foolishly overlooked Pedro Martinez in a given year and vote for Felix Hernandez this year than it is for them to simply reverse course on Blyleven or Morris when they have a lot of ink invested in arguing against, or for, their induction.  In for a penny, in for a pound.

But the biggest reason this won’t change is because we’re talking about different voters for the most part.  There are only a couple of dozen of voters for each postseason award, and they tend to be active reporters who are deeply involved in the day-to-day of baseball, including the debates over player value. It’s a smaller but smarter set than the large, bloated Hall of Fame voter pool, many of whom haven’t actively worked in baseball for some time, if they ever did.  They’re going to lag, I fear, and lag badly.

So yes, today’s Cy Young vote was nice.  But a month or two from now, when we get into Hall of Fame season, look for us to be right back into arguing why wins shouldn’t matter when assessing pitchers, and look for that argument to continue to be largely unheeded.

  1. kander013 - Nov 18, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    How about Bert Blyleven himself? He talks how he has a fantastic, HOF career, and if the writes would overlook the fact he didn’t have 300 wins he would be in. Yet, when he calls Twins games he says what a great start to the season Kevin Slowey will have when he’s 6-1, but his ERA is around 5. Yet, if Carl Pavano goes out and throws a complete game, losing 1-0 and maintaining an ER around 3, he doesn’t get the same praise. I’m all for Bert in the hall, his logic is off.

    • pestiesti - Nov 18, 2010 at 5:26 PM

      Ah yes, the Joe Morgan Paradox.

  2. billtpa - Nov 18, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Well, I think Blyleven will get in this year, but more because he only needs like five more votes than because of some sea change or something.

  3. Mark Armour - Nov 18, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    I was hoping this award would put a stop to the bloggers writing about stupid mistakes the BBWAA is about to make, rather than sitting back and seeing what happens. The strong case for Blyleven is diluted, in my view, by the “writers are stupid hacks” take. Make the case and leave the writers out of it, at least until they screw it up.

    • Mark Armour - Nov 18, 2010 at 7:08 PM

      By the way, the vast majority of the BBWAA supports Blyleven. Didn’t he get 74% of the vote? That’s better than FDR did against Alf Landon.

    • hackerjay - Nov 18, 2010 at 7:38 PM

      To be fair, the writers have screwed up on Blyleven 14 times.

  4. bc666 - Nov 18, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    At the time of his retirement Blyleven was third all-time in strikeouts, was a 2 time WS champion, had 60 complete games and had 287 wins. What more does a guy have to do to show how great a pitcher he was. 60 complete games? Really? These days a complete game should be treated like a no-hitter. He also had one of the most wicked curve balls in baseball. I heard a bunch of talk after Mike Mussina retired and how he should be considered a HOF’er. You are kidding right? The HOF will be a joke until Blyleven is allowed in.

    • Mark Armour - Nov 18, 2010 at 8:09 PM

      Actually you greatly undersell Blyleven’s case. He did not have 60 complete games … he had 242. He had sixty shutouts, which was remarkable at the time and ridiculous now.

      • bc666 - Nov 22, 2010 at 7:52 PM

        My bad Mark, you are right. Got my shutouts and complete games mixed up.

  5. vikesfansteve - Nov 18, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    BB deserves the hall but Jack Morris really does based on game 7 of the 91 World Series. Plus BBWA are a bunch of tools who couldn’t play in little league where everyone is allowed. Reminds me of Joe Biden in the steroid trials saying he was a great athlete in college lmao & his chance at the majors was hindered by other athletes on performance enhancers rotflmao.

  6. kander013 - Nov 19, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    You don’t go to the hall of fame based on one game.

  7. brianmatusz17 - Nov 19, 2010 at 3:08 AM

    mike mussinas knuckle-curve was nasty but byleven does deserve to be in tha hall

  8. Old Gator - Nov 19, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    I’m pulling for Nino Espinosa.

    • BC - Nov 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM

      Fred Patek should be in there as well.

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