Friday, May 7, 2010
Robin Roberts, Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame
Bert Blyleven has 287 wins to his credit -- 287 regular season wins, and five more in the postseason.
Robin Roberts, who died Thursday at age 83, had 286 wins and a goose egg in the World Series, which was the only postseason of his time.
Blyleven was charged with 250 losses; Roberts with 245. Blyleven's career ERA was 3.31; Roberts', 3.41.
Robin Roberts is in the Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. Bert Blyleven is not but ought to be.
The similarities in their career totals -- and their mutual penchant for the gopher ball (Roberts holds the career record for home runs allowed, Blyleven the single-season record) -- aside, they are not really comparable pitchers.
Roberts relied on his fastball movement and control. The obituaries claim his velocity reached 100 mph; I wasn't there, but you can't see that in his strikeouts. A power pitcher, yes; a fly ball pitcher, most definitely, probably the most pronounced fly ball pitcher ever. Richie Ashburn, his center fielder during his salad days in Philadelphia, holds all kinds of putout records.
Blyleven had a good fastball, but his best pitch was his curve.
Roberts' career high in walks was 77 — and that was in an era when 100-plus walk seasons were fairly common for pitchers. Blyleven bested that figure four times. Roberts never stuck out 200 men in a season; Blyleven did so eight times.
The reason Roberts is in and Blyleven out: Roberts won 20 games six straight years, with a high of 28, and was widely considered the best pitcher of the early 1950s. Blyleven won 20 games once.
Big seasons. The Hall of Fame voters love big seasons from pitchers and career numbers from hitters.