Andre Dawson, whose combination of power and speed is almost unmatched in baseball history, was elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday with 77.9 percent of the vote.
It was Dawson’s ninth time on the ballot, and he received 420 votes from 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Players needed 75 percent — 405 votes — to be elected.
Bert Blyleven, the 287-game winner who ranks fifth in career strikeouts, received 400 votes (74.2 percent) to move to the doorstep of Cooperstown in his 13th year on the ballot. He has two more tries to make it through the writers’ association.
Roberto Alomar, the 12-time All-Star second baseman, also just missed. Alomar has 397 votes (73.7 percent) in his first time on the ballot. Jack Morris was next (52.3 percent), followed by Barry Larkin (51.6 percent), Lee Smith (47.3 percent), Edgar Martinez (36.2 percent) and Tim Raines (30.4 percent).
Mark McGwire, whose 583 career homers are obscured by his role in the steroids scandal, got 23.7 percent, failing to clear 25 percent for the fourth year in a row.
Dawson is one of only three players to exceed 400 homers and 300 stolen bases (the others are Barry Bonds and Willie Mays), and he won eight Gold Gloves and a Most Valuable Player award for the Chicago Cubs in 1987.
Though his on-base percentage was just .323, Dawson was all but guaranteed to get in at some point, after receiving 67 percent of the vote last year. No player who received that much has failed to be elected eventually.
That is good news for Blyleven, who has experienced a remarkable surge in support from his debut on the ballot in 1998, when he received just 18 percent of the vote. That figure dipped to 14 percent the next season.
Yet by 2006, Blyleven had more than half the vote, and last year he crept to 63 percent. Only one player, Gil Hodges, got a greater percentage than Blyleven without eventually making it to Cooperstown.
Statistically minded writers, in particular, have taken up Blyleven’s cause, pointing not only to his 3,701 strikeouts and 60 shutouts but also to his bad luck. Blyleven lost 18 games in which he allowed one or no earned runs, and won just four times while allowing at least five earned runs.
Among players appearing on the ballot for the first time, only Alomar, Larkin, Martinez and Fred McGriff (21.5 percent) will appear on future writers’ ballots. Eleven others failed to receive the 5 percent needed to remain on the ballot.