01/12/09 3:06 PM EST
Blyleven gains steam in quest for Hall
Right-hander falls shy of bid, receives 62.7 percent of vote
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Although it was another year of missing out on election, Blyleven saw his numbers once again inch closer to the 70 percent mark. It's a significant mark because every player who has reached 70 percent of the vote has subsequently been elected to the Hall of Fame. And since 1980, only four players have received over 60 percent of the vote and did not eventually end up in Cooperstown.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. For many people, it seems to be a puzzle as to why Blyleven has yet to be elected into Cooperstown. 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. The pitcher's 287 wins place him 27th 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. But 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 with the Twins in 1985, when he led the American League in strikeouts (206). 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 three more years to see if he will reach the 75 percent mark.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.