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Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven elected to the Hall of Fame

Jan 5, 2011, 2:02 PM EDT

Roberto

The votes are in, and two have been chosen for immortality: Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven are Hall of Famers.

Alomar received an even 90%.  Blyleven got 79.7%. Just short: Barry Larkin with 62.1% and Jack Morris with 53.5%. Other notables include Lee Smith (45.3%); Jeff Bagwell (41.7%); Tim Raines (37.5%) Edgar Martinez (32.9%), Mark McGwire (19.8%) and Rafael Palmeiro (11%). The player with the lowest vote total who garnered enough votes to return to the ballot next year is Juan Gonzalez, with 5.2%.  Everyone below 5% will be removed.  There is much to be chewed over in the actual vote totals — and I do so here — but for now, let’s focus on the inductees.

A 12-time All-Star and a 10-time Gold Glove winner, Roberto Alomar was the premiere second baseman of his era. He came up with San Diego in 1988, where he played well — not necessarily great — in his age 20 through 22 seasons. His promise was apparent, however.  Alomar truly burst onto the scene when he was made part of one of the more notable trades in baseball history: along with Joe Carter he was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. In Toronto his offense ticked-up and he began his string of six-straight gold-glove seasons.  More importantly he was arguably the most important player on the Blue Jays’ back-to-back World Series championship teams in 1992 and 1993.

A free agent following the 1995 season, Alomar joined the Orioles. There his offensive contributions continued to rise — along with the league’s as a whole — and so did his profile, both for better and for worse. The better part: he was truly a national star by the mid-90s. The worse: the September 27, 1996 incident in which he spit in umpire John Hirschbeck’s face during an on-field argument. An ugly scene, the incident has continued to follow Alomar over the years despite Hirschbeck’s public forgiveness. It likely prevented Alomar from being inducted last year, his first year of eligibility.

Alomar had three more years as an elite player following his stint in Baltimore, and they came in Cleveland where he formed one of the greatest double play combinations in modern history with Omar Vizquel between 1999 and 2001. As almost always seemed to be the case, Alomar’s teams won a bunch of ballgames, with Alomar himself playing a key offensive and defensive role.

Alomar fell off a cliff following a trade to the New York Mets prior to the 2002 season, however, and he spent his final three seasons bouncing around the league. That precipitous decline notwithstanding, Alomar finished his career with a line of .300/.371/.443, and compiled 2,724 hits, 210 home runs and 1,134 RBI.  That, combined with his stellar defense, makes him one of the best second baseman of all time, and one of the most well-rounded players in baseball history.

Bert Blyleven was a study in sustained excellence.  While never viewed as truly great during his career — in part because he pitched a time when more elite pitchers roamed the Earth than any other — Blyleven’s Hall of Fame resume is nonetheless undeniable.

Given all the ink that has been spilled over his candidacy, his career accomplishments need little introduction. It’s worth noting a final time, however, that since 1900, Blyleven ranks 5th in career strikeouts, 8th in shutouts, and 17th in wins. There are only seven other pitchers who rank in the top 20 in those three categories, and they are all Hall of Famers. While many have knocked him for his propensity to give up home runs, five of the seven guys who gave up more homers than Blyleven are Hall of Famers themselves: Robin Roberts, Fergie Jenkins, Phil Neikro, Don Sutton and Warren Spahn.  He may not have “felt” like a Hall of Famer to some, but he is a deserving one by any measure.

Part of the “feel” argument used against Blyleven for so many years was the result of him not playing for many truly high-profile teams. The Twins, Rangers, Indians and Angels never grabbed the headlines during Blyleven’s tenure, and the late-70s Pirates had bigger stars holding the attention of the press. Blyleven’s national reputation was probably cemented by a couple of random Sports Illustrated articles written early in his career, in which he was portrayed as a talented pitcher who was somehow incomplete. But he grew as a pitcher after that, and he made each of his teams better even if they didn’t always support him like other elite pitchers tend to get supported. Indeed, Blyleven’s run support was among the worst ever for a pitcher of his caliber. Of Blyleven’s 250 losses, nearly 30% were by one run. In all, he lost 115 games by two runs or less. If a starting pitcher’s job is to give his team a chance to win, Blyleven more than held up his end of the bargain.

It was a long time coming for Bert Blyleven. And, as was noted yesterday, this day may never have come for him had it not been for the efforts of a few Internet zealots pushing his case.  Thank goodness for the zealots, though, because they were right to push it.

Congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven. Always elite, now enshrined among the elite.

  1. jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Congratulations to Blyleven and Alomar.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:06 PM

      Echo’ing this, congrats to both these guys.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:08 PM

        Btw, 5 people sent in blank ballots. Isn’t this a bigger reason for expulsion from the BBWAA than the ridiculous beliefs on PEDs?

      • Panda Claus - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        Why even send the ballot in if it’s blank? Doesn’t not voting and saying so make the same point.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        If a ballot is there with nothing on it, it says something. If a ballot isn’t there at all, it could just be forgotten.

      • psousa1 - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:11 PM

        But don’t you know? BBWA are the guardian’s of all things good. Their is no higher power. They are the amongst the smartest people to walk the earth. Just ask any one of them.

  2. JM Lattanzi - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Wow, Alomar got 90% of the vote. I am surprised he got that much. Congrats to Blyleven, it’s been a long, long road.

    • jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      Expectoration is punishable by first-ballot exclusion. It’s right there in Rule 33 1/3 on the BBWAA site.

      Oh wait, that’s the hacked version.

      • jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        Whoops, reply fail. This was intended as a response to ngearhart1981 just below.

  3. ngearhart1981 - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    Congrats.
    How does Alomar go from 74.5% to 90% in his first two years, unless shenanigans are involved. Everyone is talking about steroid candidates, but now I want to know what made so many change their minds about Alomar.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      Because people wanted to punish him for the spitting incident.

  4. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Woo hoo! Fun baseball news!

  5. stevejeltzjehricurl - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Congrats to two of the best players I ever watched. Both deserving Hall of Famers, and it’s cool that Gillick will be going in with Robbie, since he was the GM when Robbie played in Toronto and Baltimore.

    Better yet, Larkin’s vote total is now high enough that it’s reasonable to conclude he’ll make it someday soon.

    • psousa1 - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      Larkin should definitely be in already. Because the man did not go out of his way to draw attention to himself and let his play do the talking he was not regarded as one of the best of his era. He was.

  6. IdahoMariner - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    yessssssssss!

  7. Utley's Hair - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Congratulations to both of them.

    Note that Tino and BJ failed to garner enough to remain for next year. What say you, Barry Stanton?

  8. lampdwellr - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    2 of the 3 candidates elected in 2009 and 2010 did not improve the standards of the Hall of Fame. Alomar and Blyleven are both clearly deserving, if not immediately obvious Hall of Famers…so here’s to 3 out of the last 5! Now if they could only elect the other 7 deserving guys on the damn ballot.

  9. davidw7 - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Very very happy about these inductees. I am a HUGE supporter of Blyleven’s and am glad he has finally made it rightfully into Cooperstown. Can’t wait to listen to his induction speech. Great man and Great numbers. Also good to see Alomar going in. Quite a jump in % for only a year, but he is worthy of his place and his tandem with Vizquel in Cleveland was brilliant to watch…even as a Twins fan lol

    I hope the writers who were ‘against’ Bert’s induction will not sour this moment for him by ridiculing it. They have made it seem like Kevin Jarvis was being whilled on by the Internet to get in when that is absolutely not true because Bert had the numbers to back it.

    *No offense to Kevin Jarvis fans meant :) *

  10. Travis Reitsma - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    So…if the ridiculous reasoning of keeping people out of the Hall of Fame based on suspected PED use with absolutely no evidence kept Bagwell out, why didn’t it keep Alomar out? Isn’t it just as reasonable that he (or anyone who played from 1988-2006) could have used PEDs too?

    Bagwell should be in there too. And likely McGwire and Palmeiro too, but at least with them I can see the reasoning behind not voting them in.

    As a Jays fan, I am thrilled with Alomar’s induction. Congrats to the both of them and may the other deserving candidates one day get in too.

  11. BC - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    You HAD to put a Mets reference in there with Alomar, huh?

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      Get back in line, minion!!!! Lord Calcaterra of Minionsota will have nothing of your insubordination.

  12. kaientai72 - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    Congratulations to both Alomar and Blyleven. Both had top ten rankings on the http://www.notinhalloffame.com baseball list and both have earned it. Now what of Tim Raines!

  13. larsona2 - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Why would you put a photo of Bert in an Angels uniform, when he even said today that he would like to go in the HOF as a Minnesota Twin?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM

      Because I used a pic of him in a Twins uniform 50 straight times and people started complaining about it.

  14. florida727 - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Surprising… not a single mention in the article or the comments about Blyleven’s curve ball. Arguably the greatest in the game’s history. Probably contributed to his statistical achievements more than any single aspect of his pitching.

  15. diamondduq - Jan 5, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Let me get this straight, admittedly Blyleven was “never truly great” but somehow deserves to be in the HOF? That’s shameful!

  16. swaz22 - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    I can’t believe Alomar made it in. How come it is not mentioned that he went around having unprotected sex knowing that he was HIV positive. I think that is worse than using steroids.

  17. bc666 - Jan 5, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Dear god it’s about time for Blyleven. The guy has waited way way way too long to get that call. 60 shutouts, 242 complete games………242 COMPLETE GAMES!!!!!!! Holy cow, today’s pitchers can’t even spell complete game. He’s 5th on the all-time strikeouts list with 3701. At the time of his retirement he was 3rd all-time. 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA in the postseason. 2 world series rings. He had one nasty curve ball and to top it all off…….he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever heard about in baseball.

    Congrats to the Dutchman!!!!!!

  18. vikesfansteve - Jan 6, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    With all the dissing of the roid era players, why wouldn’t Morris have a higher % when he pitched against dudes juiced up. The roids were rampant in the late 80’s too. Morris was clean so that should make his #’s more pliable.
    Craig do you get a vote?

  19. Lucas - Jan 6, 2011 at 3:45 AM

    With Alomar’s overwhelming 90% of the vote, doesn’t that make Lou Whitaker falling off the ballot after a single year even that much more of a shame? Look on b-r.com and Lous’s top 4 similar hitters are Sandberg, Trammell, Morgan and Alomar. He had a ROY award, a WS Championship, a Top-10 MVP finish and several ASG appearances (before deciding that he didn’t care to go if he got put in), and 3 consecutive seasons with Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. He had 2300+ hits, 240+ HR’s, and over 1000 RBI’s as a 2nd Baseman. How was this guy *that* overlooked by voters that he couldn’t even garner 5% of the vote?

  20. Lucas - Jan 6, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    With Alomar’s overwhelming 90% of the vote, doesn’t that make Lou Whitaker falling off the ballot after a single year even that much more of a shame? Look on b-r.com and 4 of Lou’s top 5 similar hitters are Sandberg, Trammell, Morgan and Alomar (3 HOF’ers and another that seems to be criminally unsupported by the BBWAA). He had a ROY award, a WS Championship, a Top-10 MVP finish and several ASG appearances (before deciding that he didn’t care to go if he got put in), and 3 consecutive seasons with Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. He had 2300+ hits, 240+ HR’s, and over 1000 RBI’s as a 2nd Baseman. How was this guy *that* overlooked by voters that he couldn’t even garner 5% of the vote?

  21. abilder1 - Jan 6, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    The Baseball Hall of Fame will remain a sham until Shoeless Joe Jackson is elected and inducted. It’s my understanding the this could be accomplished by stroke of a pen on the part of Weasel Selig. Look at Jackson’s record in the 1919 World Series and tell me he was involved in the gambling., And while you’re at it,, compare Jackson’s career with that of Phil Rizzouto.

  22. ralphwilsonsucks - Jan 6, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Bert no way hall of fame! Good player that’s all

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