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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Alomar, Blyleven elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

By Dave Sheinin

Pitcher Bert Blyleven and second baseman Roberto Alomar were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Blyleven finally gained election in his 14th year of ballot eligibility -- one year before he would have been dropped from the ballot altogether, leaving his fate in the hands of the historically fickle Veterans' Committee. For Alomar, success came in his second year on the ballot. Both had narrowly missed election a year earlier. Alomar was named on 523 of the 581 ballots (90.0 percent) cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, while Blyleven was named on 463 ballots (79.7 percent). For election, a candidate must be named on 75 percent of ballots.

The election of Blyleven, 59, represents a victory of sorts for baseball's increasingly influential sabermetrics community -- a cadre of bloggers, journalists and numbers-crunchers for whom Blyleven's continued omission from Cooperstown became a cause celebre in recent years, and one that apparently gained significant traction among voters.

While Blyleven was well-regarded during his playing career, he was not generally considered Hall-worthy at the time -- perhaps best evidenced by the fact he made only two all-star teams and received Cy Young Award votes in only four of his 22 big league seasons. His career, while long and prolific, was eclipsed by those of contemporaries such as Nolan Ryan, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver, all of whom sailed into Cooperstown on their attempts.

However, more recent analysis, trumpeted in sabermetric circles, has sought to prove that Blyleven was criminally underrated - both in his own era, and (especially) by Cooperstown voters. Central to that campaign was the fact Blyleven ranks fifth all-time in career strikeouts and ninth in career shutouts.

Blyleven was named on only 17.5 percent of ballots in his first year of Hall eligibility (1998), but his percentage began to surge in the second half of the 2000s, finally reaching 74.2 percent (five votes shy of election) in 2010.

Alomar also fell just short in 2010, his first year of eligibility, when he was named on 73.7 percent of ballots. He was widely considered the premier second baseman and one of the top all-around players of his generation, making 12 all-star teams, winning 10 Gold Glove Awards and finishing in the top 10 of MVP voting five different times. His relatively large vote total this year suggests many voters penalized him a year ago for his infamous spitting incident with an umpire.

One question regarding Alomar now is which team's cap he will wear on his Cooperstown bust. He spent the prime of his career with three different teams - Toronto (five seasons), Baltimore (three) and Cleveland (three), winning a pair of World Series titles in Toronto and having arguably his best offensive season in Cleveland, in 1999. Although the player has some input into which cap he will wear, the ultimate decision-making powers rest with Hall of Fame officials.

Further down the vote tally, one can see the effects of the lingering, contentious debate over the impact of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs on the game. In his first year of eligibility, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was named on only 64 ballots (11 percent), despite being one of only five players in history to have surpassed both 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Palmeiro tested positive for steroids in 2005, a result he continues to blame on a tainted shot vitamin B-12 supplied by a teammate.

For slugger Mark McGwire, who last February admitted he used steroids throughout his career, that admission did not help his Hall of Fame cause. In fact, his voting percentage actually dropped this year -- to 19.8 percent.

By Dave Sheinin  | January 5, 2011; 2:00 PM ET
 
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Next: His long, frustrating Hall of Fame wait over, Blyleven takes high road

Comments

If McGwire and Palmeiro aren't elected, then Bonds sure better not be either when his time comes.

Posted by: AsstGM | January 5, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

If McGwire and Palmeiro aren't elected, then Bonds sure better not be either when his time comes.

Posted by: AsstGM |

Bonds was a MVP at least three times before he ever started using any PED's while with the pirates. McGuire on the other hand started off as a teammate of Canseco at Oakland so it is a good chance he has been taking PEDs for a lot longer than bonds and probably benefited from them for a much longer period of his career.

Posted by: ged0386 | January 5, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I always wonder why we give a HOF pass to NFL athletes who played in the steroids era which to me has had a more prolific affect on football why we hold MLB players to a higher standard as well has punishment when it comes to their accomplishments and legacies. We have no problem voting NFL players into the hall that played during the Tony Mandridge and Brian Bozworth era where we knew steroids were rampant. But leaving a guy like Bonds out of the hall is like leaving out Walter Payton from the NFL hall.

Posted by: ged0386 | January 5, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I guess HOF voters preferred to vote for Roberto Alomar rather than being covered in his spiteful spit.

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | January 5, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Somebody explain how Alomar made it after spitting on an umpire. If only credentials matter, then Pete Rose certainly deserves admission. If character and sportsmanship matter, how did this sad excuse for a man make it?

Posted by: lumerm | January 5, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

McGwire and Palmeiro were locks for the HoF before the steroid revelations. Never gonna happen now. I would've thought that Alomar would've got more dissenting anti-spitting votes.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 5, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I would just like to point out that Bert Blyleven owns one unenviable record: The most home runs allowed by a pitcher in a single season (50)! He doesn't hold the career mark, fortunately, but he does hold the single season mark--and that in a season prior to the the infamous steroids era!

Posted by: virginiabaptistpastor | January 5, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Quick comments:

ged0386 wrote:
"Bonds was a MVP at least three times before he ever started using any PED's while with the pirates." The fact that he's believed to have taken substance takes away from his body of work as a whole. If you're going to say, "Well he was good this period... but not the other times", then you have to say about Roger Maris, "he had a great year...but let's forget about the rest of his career." It's the body of work, not small portions of it; and Bonds, in the view of many, diminished his body of work.

ged0386 wrote:
"I always wonder why we give a HOF pass to NFL athletes who played in the steroids era..."

You're not giving "a HOF pass"; the criteria for selection to the Football Hall of Fame is different from the criteria for selction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's no different than having one set of rules for high school graduation in one state than there is in a different state. If you don't like that the National Football Legue and Major League Baseball have different criteria, change the criteria.

"...leaving a guy like Bonds out of the hall is like leaving out Walter Payton from the NFL hall." No it's not; first, Bonds wasn't on the Hall of Fame ballott. Second, Hall of Fame voters have to follow the Hall of Fame selection criteria for their individual sport.

lumerm wrote:
"Somebody explain how Alomar made it after spitting on an umpire. If only credentials matter, then Pete Rose certainly deserves admission. If character and sportsmanship matter, how did this sad excuse for a man make it?"

He made it because, in the view of the Hall of Fame voters, apparently viewed it as a one-time, isolated, stand-alone incident that didn't impact on his body of work.

Regarding Pete Rose, forgetting what anyone may think of his qualifications for the Hall of Fame and his body of work, in August 1989 Pete Rose himself agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball, and Baseball Hall of Fame criteria is that those on the "permanently ineligible" list are banned from induction into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Rose agreed to his ineligibility; he has no one, if you want to call it, "to blame" but himself for agreeing to his ineligibility.

dungarees2@gmail.com

Posted by: Dungarees | January 5, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

RE:

In his first year of eligibility, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was named on only 64 ballots (11 percent), despite being one of only five players in history to have surpassed both 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

Who is the fifth?

Aaron, Mays, Murray, Palmeiro and ?????.

Posted by: mdpilot | January 5, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

RE:

In his first year of eligibility, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was named on only 64 ballots (11 percent), despite being one of only five players in history to have surpassed both 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

Who is the fifth?

Aaron, Mays, Murray, Palmeiro and ?????.

Posted by: mdpilot | January 5, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

There are only 4, although several others got pretty close.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 5, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

If McGwire and Palmeiro aren't elected, then Bonds sure better not be either when his time comes.

Posted by: AsstGM | January 5, 2011 2:57 PM
======================================

This comment doesn't follow logically. Besides being an all-Star before using PED's, Bonds was a far superior player than either McGwire or Palmeiro when they all were using. It's possible that Bonds' career, taken as a whole, is good enough to overcome the presumption that he was helped by steroids, and the other guys' careers were not.

(Although, for the record, I would not vote for anyone who had been proven to have juiced - not even Bonds, A-Rod, or Clemens - and if someone like a Kirby Puckett or a Frank Thomas is proven later to have juiced, they should be removed. I've got no problem with a special exhibit honoring these players but they do not deserve full HOF status with non-juicers).

Posted by: jksesq1 | January 5, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Barry Bonds won't get in because he wasn't exactly a media favorite. They can hang the PED tag on him and keep him out for that reason, not having to reveal how much they actually dislike the guy. He and his father were 2 of the most unpopular great players to ever play.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 5, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Alomar! The best 2nd baseman of the last 25 years!

Posted by: MrBalance | January 5, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Barry Bonds won't get in because he wasn't exactly a media favorite. They can hang the PED tag on him and keep him out for that reason, not having to reveal how much they actually dislike the guy. He and his father were 2 of the most unpopular great players to ever play.
-------------------------------------------

Which just goes to show how silly the whole process is. Apparently, it's just a popularity contest.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | January 5, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

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