Posted by Andy on June 27, 2010
It seems logical that we should have a poll about Mike Mussina's HOF chances, given that his name got brought up quite a bit during the recent Curt Schilling HOF debate. For Schilling, nearly exactly 2/3rds of voters believe he deserves to be in the HOF while 1/3rd do not. (Interestingly, 73% think Schilling will get in while 27% do not.)
Anyway, let's see what folks think about Mussina.
Here's a quick summary of the argument, as I see it. Please add your own comments and then vote in the poll below.
- 270 wins (33rd all-time)
- 74.8 WAR for pitchers (24th all-time) including top AL pitcher in WAR in 1994 and 2001.
- .638 W-L% (37th all-time)
- 3.58 K/BB ratio (14th all-time)
- Career ERA+ of 123.
- 57 career complete games including 23 shutouts
- 5-time All-Star, 7-time Gold Glove winner, 9 top ten Cy Young finishes
- 3.42 career post-season ERA over 23 games (21 starts)
- Led MLB with 19 wins in strike-shortened 1995 season, won 20 games in 2008.
- Neutralized pitching numbers show that his stats benefited tremendously due to playing for powerhouse teams--Orioles of the mid 1990s and Yankees of the 2000s. His neutralized W-L% is .544 which based on the same number of career decisions would lead to a record of 230-193. That's 40 fewer wins and 40 more losses than he actually got. His seasonal neutralized win totals have him with 18 wins in 1994, 17 wins in 1995 (assuming those were both 162-game seasons), and no more than 16 wins in any other season. His 2008 season is at 12-9 instead of his actual 20 wins.
- His post-season numbers were very up-and-down. The cumulative 3.42 ERA is deceptive. He had some great games but also got bombed fairly frequently. Despite making the playoffs seven times with the Yankees, Mussina's team did not win the World Series once while he was on the team. (Nor did the Orioles in two post-season trips with the Moose.)
- While Mussina was often regarded as being among the best pitchers in the league, he never won a Cy Young, coming close only in 1999. ("Close" is a relative term here...nobody was beating Pedro for the Cy Young that year but Mussina came in a strong second.)
- He started 536 games (33rd all-time) but pitched only 3,562.2 innings (66th all-time) with his 6.6 IP/game start well above average but lower than a lot of other star pitchers. (Curt Schilling averaged 7.1 IP/game start, for comparison.)
In some ways, Mussina is hurt tremendously by two things that really aren't hist fault:
- He never had a peak since he pitched quite well his entire career. If he had the same cumulative stats but pitched a bit better in the middle of his career and a bit worse later, somehow that might seem more impressive.
- He never won a World Series. He does deserve some of the blame here as he lost some big games, but there are plenty of pitchers who get credit for being on championship teams who didn't help all that much. If a ball bounces the other way, he could've had a ring in 2001, for example. It just seems a shame to hold this against him.