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The Non-Saber Hall of Fame Case for Burt Blyleven

So many people have weighed in on the Hall of Fame vote - especially on the Blyleven / Morris debate - I feel a tad ridiculous writing another article about it. I don't have impressive visuals or unique statistics to display, but I do have a point to make that pertains to our whole Saber Primer series.

If there's one point I've had to this whole saber-series, it's this: keep it simple. If you're trying to reach people that aren't familiar with sabermetrics, there are other ways to reach them than by bombarding them with wOBA, FIP, and WAR all at once. You can still convince people of your point by using simpler statistics, like discussing homeruns allowed and strikeouts instead of talking about FIP. There's no need to make things complicated, and by limiting the amount of funky statistics you use, you stand a better chance of convincing a saber-newbie of your point.

I think the Burt Blyleven / Jack Morris debate is a perfect example of this. You can make Blyleven's case by using FIP, WAR, and ERA+, but you can also make a very convincing argument by looking at some very mainstream, basic statistics:


This isn't sexy or all-encompassing, but I think it's important to realize that with all the crazy lengths that everyone goes to in order to justify their choices, sometimes it's best to keep it simple. Both of these pitchers were great, no question about that. But which one was better? Which one was more dominating? Personally, I don't see how you can argue against the pitcher that struck out more batters, walked fewer hitters, allowed fewer homeruns, allowed fewer total runs per game, and pitched for a much longer time.

You can talk about award won and the "fear factor" in facing Morris; you can talk about Blyleven's WAR and FIP. But when it comes down to it, the ideal pitcher is one that keeps runs from scoring, is durable and long-lasting, strikes out batters while walking a small amount, and keeps the ball in the park. It's all well and good to consider as much information as possible - who pitched well in the clutch, who had the highest peak, etc. - but sometimes too much information can prove distracting.