Skip to content

Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven elected to the Hall of Fame

Jan 5, 2011, 2:02 PM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Video: Ernie Banks remembered

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    ernie banks getty Getty Images

    MLB Network looks back on the career of Ernie Banks, who died Friday at the age of 83 …

  2. Tommy Milone had a benign tumor removed from his neck

    Jan 24, 2015, 10:40 PM EST

    Tommy Milone Tommy Milone

    Tommy Milone underwent neck surgery in December to remove a benign tumor, but he was able to resume throwing just over two weeks later.

  3. Twins GM Terry Ryan could see Byron Buxton debuting in 2015

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:35 PM EST

    Byron Buxton Getty Images

    Top prospect Byron Buxton could be wearing a Twins uniform in the major leagues at some point this season according to GM Terry Ryan.

  4. Tigers, Al Alburquerque avoid arbitration with a one-year deal

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    Al Alburquerque AP

    The Tigers and reliever Al Alburquerque avoided arbitration with a one-year deal on Saturday.

  5. Proposed Jonathan Papelbon trade to Brewers is “on life support”

    Jan 24, 2015, 7:25 PM EST

    Jonathan Papelbon Jonathan Papelbon

    A Jonathan Papelbon trade to the Brewers may not be happening after all.

  6. Mariners considering bringing back Franklin Gutierrez

    Jan 24, 2015, 6:20 PM EST

    Franklin Gutierrez Getty Images

    Franklin Gutierrez could make a return to the Mariners. The 31-year-old outfielder has had trouble staying healthy over the last few years.

  7. Twins and Brian Duensing agree to one-year deal to avoid arbitration

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:28 PM EST

    Brian Duensing Getty Getty Images

    Duensing he has been useful and durable as a middle reliever over the past two seasons, posting a 3.67 ERA (110 ERA+) in 115 1/3 innings over 135 appearances.

  8. Report: Brandon Beachy has decided on a team

    Jan 24, 2015, 4:53 PM EST

    Brandon Beachy AP

    Beachy is currently making his way back from his second Tommy John surgery.

  9. Report: More than 200 scouts attended recent workout for Cuban infielder Hector Olivera

    Jan 24, 2015, 4:01 PM EST

    Hector Olivera Getty Getty Images

    The Giants, Padres, Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are among the teams showing strong interest in Olivera.

  10. 1953 scouting report for Ernie Banks

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 PM EST

    Ernie Banks AP AP

    Check out this scouting report from when Banks was 22 years old.

  11. Joe Posnanski: Remembering ‘Mr. Cub,’ Ernie Banks

    Jan 24, 2015, 2:40 PM EST

    MLB Photos Archive

    From the start, even in those turbulent times, even though Chicago was finding its way in a changing America, people in Chicago did not see the color of his skin. From the start, Chicago loved Ernie Banks.

  12. Ryan Vogelsong “really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on” with Astros before returning to Giants

    Jan 24, 2015, 2:16 PM EST

    vogelsong getty Getty Images

    Did something strange happen between Ryan Vogelsong and the Astros which led to his return to the Giants?

  13. Vince Coleman joining White Sox staff to help with baserunning

    Jan 24, 2015, 1:11 PM EST

    Vince Coleman Getty Getty Images

    Coleman, who ranks sixth on MLB’s all-time list with 752 stolen bases, spent last the two seasons as a minor league outfield/baserunning coach with the Astros.

  14. Athletics and Fernando Abad avoid arbitration with one-year deal

    Jan 24, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    Fernando Abad AP AP

    Abad, 29, posted an excellent 1.57 ERA and 51/15 K/BB ratio across 57 1/3 innings out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2014.

  15. What they’re saying about the passing of Cubs legend Ernie Banks

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:11 AM EST

    Ernie Banks AP AP

    Reactions from a baseball world in mourning after the passing of Cubs legend Ernie Banks.

  16. Alex Rodriguez recently met with incoming MLB commissioner Rob Manfred

    Jan 24, 2015, 10:02 AM EST

    Alex Rodriguez AP AP

    With Rob Manfred set to take over for Bud Selig as MLB commissioner on Sunday, Alex Rodriguez recently paid him a visit in an attempt to clear the air and turn the page on the drama surrounding the Biogenesis scandal.

  17. Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s greatest players and greatest ambassadors has died at age 83

    Jan 23, 2015, 11:15 PM EST

    Ernie Banks

    There was only one Mr. Cub. And he was one of the greatest men in baseball history.

  18. Indians showing interest in Nolan Reimold

    Jan 23, 2015, 10:55 PM EST

    Nolan Reimold Nolan Reimold

    The Indians are considering bringing Nolan Reimold on board.

  19. Astros, Marwin Gonzalez avoid arbitration with a one-year contract

    Jan 23, 2015, 9:50 PM EST

    The Astros and utilityman Marwin Gonzalez avoided arbitration on Friday.

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Vogelsong (5741)
  2. J. Shields (5086)
  3. I. Suzuki (4291)
  4. M. Scherzer (4218)
  5. D. Fowler (3743)
  1. J. Santana (3487)
  2. Y. Gallardo (3464)
  3. J. Gomes (3418)
  4. J. Profar (3250)
  5. J. Papelbon (3062)