Major League Baseball in 2010 was referred to by many as the “year of the pitcher” and for good reason. It made for some interesting debate as to whether dominant pitching was for better or worse, but it seems to have also taken some of the negative focus of performance enhancing drugs off the game slightly, either that or Brian Wilson’s Bright Orange Nikes may have.
The year of the pitcher began with incredible defense, not only on the mound, but with pitchers fielding their position as well. A crazy between the legs falling down underhand scoop from Mark Buehrle, followed by no-hitters, perfect games and an im-perfect game that will never be forgotten. It seemed pitching dominance would never relent as the season moved on, and it didn’t. Roy Halladay not only threw a perfect game during the regular season, he followed it up by pitching a post season gem in his first ever playoff appearance.
While the season may be over and the pitching from the likes of the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies may be taking a break for the off season, the focus of the game of baseball even off the field seems to be still primarily on the defensive side of the game.
Today this year’s inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown were announced. Although names like Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Jeff Bagwell, players with undeniable offensive skill were on the ballot, it was two players more remembered for their work on the defensive side of the game that made the final cut. Pitcher Bert Blyleven and infielder Roberto Alomar were voted in as this year’s inductees.
Former infielder Roberto Alomar was the leading vote-getter this year, grabbing a vote from 90% of the voters. Alomar’s career was impressive both offensive and defensively. He hit .300 over his 17 year career, received 4 Silver Slugger Awards and was a 12 time all star. For many though Alomar was remembered for unbelievable range as a middle infielder. Over the 17 years on the field Roberto Alomar was awarded 10 Gold Glove Awards as he dove, slid, tumbled and seemingly floated over second base while turning unbelievable double plays.
Bert Blyleven who spent time a number of teams over his 22 year career, including two stints that totaled 11 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, received 79.7% of the votes possible to take the second spot. Blyleven finished his career with 287 wins and a career earned run average of just 3.30. What made Bert one of the greatest pitchers of his era however was his durability. Blyleven was a workhorse, or rather the player that defined the term and the last pitcher that will ever deservedly be called the nickname. Three times in his career he pitched 20 or more complete games in a single season. To put this in perspective, not a single player has thrown even 10 complete games in a season in the last ten years, and only Fernando Valenzuela threw 20 since Blyleven amassed 24 in 1985.
The year of the pitcher may have come to a close on November 1st but for now in the current era of cleansing for the game of baseball, home run hitters are still striking out.
Images courtesy of Yahoo.