Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 18, 2007
BASEBALL: Fun Bert Blyleven Fact

Six of the ten most similar pitchers to Blyleven through age 30 came from two pitching rotations - Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, and Ken Holtzman. If you leave out Sutton, the other five had a combined record of 90-96 after age 30 - Blyleven alone was 120-102.

If you want a little more fun with these things, check out Christy Mathewson through age 32 (very arguably the best pitcher ever through that age, as his 337 wins were the most ever and his ERA+ is the fourth best to that point and trails only Walter Johnson among pitchers with similar workloads), or the collective subsequent wipeout (other than Cy Young) of so many of the guys who were similar to Bob Feller through age 28, Feller's last great year.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:43 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Look at Carlton after 1975! Wow.

Also, I didn't realize the full extent of Gooden's post-1993 collapse. Even with the high 90's ERAs, a 4.99 tally for Dwight??? Yikes.

Posted by: Mike at January 18, 2007 6:17 PM

Carlton was an animal and when you consider how bad "most" of the Phillie teams he played on where it is even more impressive. This just continues to show why I say Blyleven should be in the Hall.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 19, 2007 9:22 AM

This just continues to show why I say Blyleven should be in the Hall

It's our once-a-month agreement, Maddirish.

Posted by: Mike at January 19, 2007 9:53 AM

We're up to once a month now!?!?! You're coming around Mike!!!

Posted by: maddirishman at January 19, 2007 10:11 AM

The thing I've never quite been able to understand about Blyleven is why he didn't win more often in the early 70's. I know that sabermetricians generally like to just throw won-lost records out the window, and in terms of individual seasons I think that is generally valid. But Blyleven consistently won less (or lost more) than he should have, given his excellent ERAs relative to the league, the fact that he was pitching tons of innings, and the fact that the Twins had a league average or better offense. Blyleven was in his early twenties at the time, and his won-lost records from the mid-70's on are mostly consistent with how he pitched, so perhaps this actually is a case of a pitcher just needing to "learn how to win" in the close ones.

Posted by: Jerry at January 19, 2007 10:53 AM

Actually in Blyleven's first run through Min, 70-75, other than in '70 when he was a rookie, they were a very average team. After "70 they never finished higher than 3rd. He also spent time in Cle, before they were good and in Tex. He was cursed with playing for some REAL bad teams, but pitched well year after year. HOF, without a doubt, come on writers, if you can't get McGwire right at least get Blyleven right.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 19, 2007 11:27 AM

You're coming around Mike!!!

No!!! You're coming around. ;-)

Posted by: Mike at January 19, 2007 11:28 AM

A lot of factors go into W/L record vs. "expectations." But in '73 & '74, when Blyleven went "only" 37-34 despite his excellent ERAs, he gave up 16 unearned runs each season. Unearned runs are one of the hidden indicators to look at in understanding apparent discrepancies between expected & actual W/L records.

And, as Met fans know with Pedro, sometimes a good pitcher on a high scoring team still gets crap run support. In the early 70's, was Blyleven the Twins #1 starter? If he was, he would've faced Ryan or Palmer or Tiant or McDowell or Wood every time out.

Posted by: Mike at January 19, 2007 11:34 AM

I've addressed this in previous Blyleven posts:

Yes, he was the Twins #1 starter in those years.

No, the Twins were bad but not because their offense was bad, and not as bad as Seaver, Carlton and Ryan's teams.

Yes, Blyleven often had worse W-L records than teammates with higher ERAs.

No, Blyleven didn't really win fewer games than he should have in the early 70s, he just lost more. He got amazingly few no decisions. My guess is he lost a lot of close ones in the late innings to Ryan, Catfish, Tiant, Palmer, etc.

Posted by: The Crank at January 19, 2007 12:02 PM

My best guess is that Blyleven was frequently left in games too long. He does seem to have consistently pitched 2 or 3 games a year into extra innings, with poor results. I think his W-L records are still surprisingly poor even when that is taken into account, but it's the most likely explanation for why they stopped being like that when he left the Twins.

Posted by: Jerry at January 19, 2007 12:55 PM
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