01/08/08 6:15 PM ET
Blyleven's candidacy gets a boost
Former pitcher still awaiting big call from Cooperstown
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Blyleven's candidacy has been picking up steam over recent years. After receiving just 14 percent of the vote in 1999, his second year on the ballot, Blyleven's vote totals have jumped nearly every year.Those who haven't voted for Blyleven point to him having just one 20-win season, two All-Star bids and no Cy Young award during his career. In the key categories -- strikeouts, wins and ERA -- Blyleven only once led his league in any of them. That came in 1985 with the Twins when he led the American League in strikeouts (206). But in a career that spanned from 1970-92 with the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels, Blyleven ranks near the top of almost every important all-time pitching category. His 287 wins place him 26th on the all-time list. He is fifth in career strikeouts with 3,701 and ninth in career shutouts with 60. Of the top 20 pitchers on the career shutouts list, Blyleven is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. Players are eligible to remain on the ballot for 15 years as long as they receive at least 5 percent of the vote. So Blyleven now has four more years to see if he will reach the 75 percent mark. And no matter if it takes until his final stint on the ballot, the hope for Blyleven still is that one day the long wait will pay off. "I look at it as I only have four more years, and I can't predict if a writer is going to change his vote," Blyleven said. "Why did Bruce Sutter get in after 13 years or Goose Gossage after nine? It's nice to see my numbers increase, but hopefully they'll just keep going up in a positive direction until I'm headed to Cooperstown."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.