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POLL: Mike Mussina and the Hall of Fame

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.

In favor:

  • 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.

156 Responses to “POLL: Mike Mussina and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Mike Felber Says:

    I reiterate my questions (see main paragraph post #78) about win probability. WHY does it vary significantly from ERA + in many cases? Does Pedro not dominate in this stat because he did not pitch quite as long per start as those rated above him, & are there other factors? The 1st 7 are significantly better than the others, & Clemens DEGREE of dominance per start over a career remains unexplained to me.

  2. rico petrocelli Says:

    John Q

    Thanks for making this public.

    Great context on the greatest. yeah Arod must be included, guess at short.
    That Blyleven us in there confims all the love he gets on this site.

    Major surprises:
    G. Davis-90
    A. Vaughn-75
    Not ernie Banks?

    And how has Cap Clarke escaped my scrutiny? He was a 20 year teammate with Honus Wagner and appears to have torn up the league with him

    He had one of the greatest debuts in major league history. Using a small, light bat and facing the veteran Gus Weyhing of the Philadelphia Phillies, Clarke proceeded to hit four singles and a triple in five at bats.

    Great bio here

  3. rico petrocelli Says:


    Which is the greatest outfield in baseball history?

    Some would say Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann and Heinie Manush from 1923-27. Anyone who can weigh in?

    In 1926, Manush hit .378 to lead the American League. On the last day of the season, Manush trailed Babe Ruth and Heilmann in the race. but went 6 for 9 in a doubleheader to overtake them and win the batting title.

  4. Mike Matthews Says:

    We too often look for failure. The article points out negatives like being on powerhouse teams. His greatest accomplishment was being so successful in the American League "Beast" his entire career. I doubt any pitcher's numbers compare to his if you base you information there. Quite remarkable actually.

  5. Matt Young Says:


    Again, points well taken, but all I'm arguing for is this is one number to look at, NOT THE ONLY number to look at. I'm a big picture guy, and I don't think anyone can say that the numbers needed listed below are worthless. Shoot, complete games and shutouts have become almost irrelevant, and b/c the era we're now in today --so, yes, you have many good points including biases when voting for awards. I'm just saying it shouldn't be disregarded. This idea that this number is useless is just not accurate. In order to get a high HoFS or HoFM number you have to rack up some impressive numbers. Certainly this number points a bit more to the "career type" HoF and not the guy that dominated for 8-12 years. Glavine is a good example. Also, if the guys HoFM number is 130+, I think it's saying something. 100 is too low a cutoff.

    Again, it's one number to look at and somewhere down on the list. WAR, ERA+, and yes wins/win% are probably the most important. Wins can be overrated, but still, you have to win.

    Mike Felber Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 11:34 pm
    OK Matt, I stand corrected in that the clearly NEGATIVE stats do not make up the leader boards. Fair point.

    Though my other objection stands: even though it takes out the distinction of era & league, there are still context dependent stats that have much to do with team performance. And awards,(ROY, CY Young, Gold Glove, MVP) SO often contaminated by prejudice & ignorance. And post season performance, which depends overwhelmingly on the whole team whether you even GET there. AND it heavily weighs total stats accumulated, whether bogus one like Wins, win %, or good ones like ERA, but not adjusted for context. The career Standards has many more criteria, hence more dubious comparative measures, but examine how heavily weighted the HOF monitor is towards things much effected by team, era, etc-even though it does not factor in the often dubious awards:

    * Pitching Statistics One point for each 10 wins over 100, limit 25.
    * One point for each 20 games over .500, limit 10.
    * For each of the following a minimum of 500 innings is required before these points are added.
    o One point for each .013 of winning percentage above .500, limit 15.
    o One point for each .20 of ERA below 4.00, limit 10.
    o One point for each 200 strikeouts over 1000, limit 10.
    o One point for each .30 of BB/9IP below 4.00, limit 10.
    o One point for each .30 of H/9IP below 10.00, limit 10.
    * One point for each 1000 innings above 1000, limit 5.
    * One point for each 100 complete games above 200, limit 5. Changed from James's slightly
    * One point for each 30 shutouts, limit 5. Changed from James's slightly

    Unless youy adjust for drastic distinctions in teams & era, it is not just incomplete, AND not consider peak value- a major measure of greatness-but stands as a highly flawed measure of anything but how LIKELY someone is to make it. Though even in this it is somewhat flawed, because even before modern sabermetrics, many give a rough calculation or intuitive sense of how context skews what you are cerdited with.

  6. Matt Young Says:

    "it's just Glavine will have 4-5 more years tacked on which boosts his WAR, Wins, and WPA. His ERA+was hurt a bit, but the trade-off in more wins was surely worth it for Glavine"

    4-5 more years of above- average pitching is very significant when comparing players. I guess we can agree that their rate stats are similar, but overall career value is not to this point. And I wasn't cherry-picking - offensive stats should be included in all pitcher to pitcher comparisons.

    Matthew: Agreed, 4-5 more years pitching at an above-average level at near 40 years of age is significant and I pointed this out. All I'm saying is they have very similar numbers through 16 years. I can buy your argument of using the WAR with offense included if both pitchers were lifer National Leaguers. However, the WAR with offense is not what people will generally look at when comparing pitchers. Glavine was quite good with the bat though, didn't he win a Silver Slugger one year?

  7. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mike Felber: I reiterate my questions (see main paragraph post #78) about win probability. WHY does it vary significantly from ERA + in many cases? Does Pedro not dominate in this stat because he did not pitch quite as long per start as those rated above him, & are there other factors?

    WPA is sort of a counting stat (although it can go down as well as up). Pedro has a short career by elite pitcher standards. I'm sure if you calculate his WPA per IP, it rates as well as anyone. He led the league three times.

    And if WPA never varied from some other stat, there would be no point to it. It measures something different.

    Wait a second, I just checked...Martinez is 4th in career WPA, despite such a short career. I'd say that was pretty dominating.

  8. John Q Says:

    Rico P.,

    You're welcome. I'm going to look up the peak HOF either "Best 7 consecutive WAR Seasons" or "The 7 best WAR Seasons"

    Davis and Vaughn were just completely overlooked and I'm not sure why exactly. I remember reading about Davis during the early 90's before he was in the HOF. Maybe Vaughn was overlooked because he played in Pittsburgh during the 30's.

    Ernie Banks's career has been misinterpreted for a long time and he's such a beloved figure that few people tend to look at him objectively.

    Few people realize that he played more games at First base than he did at Short. Basically there are two Ernie Banks: The SS who played in the 50's who had 7 of the best consecutive seasons at the position OR The Ernie Banks who played from 1962-1971 who was essentially a mediocre 1B. His batting line from 1963-1971 was .257/.307/.440 with a ops+ of 105. He had a 106ops+ from 1962-1971. There are very few 1B who are kept on a major league roster with an ops+ of 106 for 2000-3000 plate appearances let alone 5000 plate appearances.

    So basically you have to look at Banks from 1953-1961 as Alex Rodriguez or Cal Ripken and the Ernie Banks from 1962-1971 as Sid Bream, J.T. Snow or Greg Brock.

  9. John Q Says:

    Rico Petrocelli,

    I forgot Ivan Rodriguez on that WAR list, he should be 2nd behind Bench.

    I don't think the Tigers from '23-27 would be considered the Best in a five year span. Cobb was at the end of his career at that point. It's an interesting question though: what was the best Starting outfield during a 5 year span?

  10. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's pretty rare for an outfield to stay together 5 seasons.

    Some combination of DiMaggio/Keller/Henrich/Selkirk was pretty great from around '38 to '48, minus some time out for wars and injuries.

    Delahanty, Hamilton, and Thompson for the Phillies 1891-1895

    Evans, Lynn, and Rice with the late '70s Red Sox.

  11. John Q Says:

    Rico Petrocelli,

    Here's the top 5 "Peak" (Best 7 Seasons) WAR players:

    T. Williams
    R. Henderson
    J. Jackson

    Joe D

    F. Robinson


    A. Vaughn

    J. Robinson


    G. Carter

    Santo is the only eligible player not in the HOF. It's kind of forgotten that J. Robinson was a great player. Pujols is already second as far as 7 best seasons at first base. Shoeless Joe makes an appearance. Mantle was better than Dimaggio. Yaz makes the top five on the strength of those amazing '67-68 seasons. Why did it take G. Carter so long to get elected to the HOF?

  12. John Q Says:

    Here's the top 21 pitchers, Best 7 WAR-seasons since 1890, Koufax was the 21st, Spahn in the post 1901 so I increased it by one pitcher. I left off the pitchers from the 1880's because the game was so different. Just pitching not batting.

    1890-present Best 7 WAR Seasons:

    C. Young
    W. Johnson
    K. Nichols
    P. Alexander
    R. Clemens
    L. Grove
    A. Rusie
    C. Mathewson
    B. Gibson
    R. Johnson

    T. Seaver
    G. Perry
    E. Walsh
    P. Niekro
    B. Feller
    J. Marichal
    W. Spahn
    G. Maddux
    P. Martinez
    R. Roberts
    S. Koufax

    Since 1901 Best 7 WAR Seasons:

    W. Johnson
    P. Alexander
    R. Clemens
    L. Grove
    C. Mathewson
    B. Gibson
    R. Johnson
    C. Young
    T. Seaver
    G. Perry

    E. Walsh
    P. Niekro
    B. Feller
    J. Marichal
    W. Spahn
    G. Maddux
    P. Martinez
    R. Roberts
    S. Koufax
    W. Spahn

  13. Matt Young Says:

    Awesome post John Q. Agreed, Carter should have gone in before he did and you could argue he was every bit as good as Fisk. Fisk was a no-brainer HoF, but Carter should have been too --I think the waving arms and playing in Boston helped Fisk --it was a signature moment for Fisk. The funny thing is many remember Game 6 and the waving arms more than they do who won that series. Fisk was slightly better offensively, but Carter was clearly better defensively --for such an important defensive position, I actually might give the slight nod to Carter. Both of their WAR's are in the upper 60's I believe.

  14. John Q Says:

    I messed that up, Spahn should be behind Koufax in the post 1890 season and I listed him twice in the post 1901 section. Jim Bunning was the next on the 1901-present list.

  15. Andy Says:

    John Q how do you figure stuff like that out? Do you have a database of some sort?

  16. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Your very own Red Saux had some great players, while not all in their prime, in the mid to late 70's.
    In '76 they had a mix of Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Yaz, Bernie Carbo, and the most underrated player of his era - Dwight Evans.
    In '78-79, Carlton Fisk joined the crew for a few games in Left field.
    '73 - Reggie Smith -150 OPS+.
    '73 - Tommy Harper led the league in SB.
    '73 - Ben Ogilve & Cha Cha Cepeda.

  17. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    Glavine won 4 Silver Sluggers.

    One last thing... 3-year WAR: Glavine 21 - Pettitte 18, 5-year WAR, Glavine 31- Pettitte 25, 10 year WAR: Glavine 50, Pettitte 40. Also, Sean Smith came up with WAE, or wins above excellence, which raises the baseline even higher than wins above average. To achieve a WAE, you need to have more than 3 WAR in a give season. Glavine wins here 20 to 12. Looks like at their very best, Glavine edges Pettitte too.

    Either way, Pettitte is making an interesting HOF run. But back to the original topic, Moose was a little better than either.

  18. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "Agreed to some degree, however, compare Schilling's, Brown's and Smoltzy's numbers to Coney's --first add 2 more average years to Coneys numbers and then let me know what you think."

    Matt: Every single one of the pitchers under discussion from this era lost the same opportunity that Cone did. Schilling. Brown. Smoltz. Mussina, Pettitte. You name them, if they are in this generation, they lost those games as well. Everybody we are talking about (except Blyleven who is only discussed now because the writers inexplicably failed to recognize him at the appropriate time) was pitching during the 94-95 strike. On top of the fact that it was more like 1/2 a season missing, rather than 2 full seasons, it's ridiculous that you would add that to Cone's numbers, and not anybody else's. It could only make any *possible* sense if you comparing him to a pitcher who didn't lose time to that strike, which is going to include close to zero pitchers with realistic hall chances coming up for vote in the last 5 or next few years.

  19. John Q Says:


    If you go to the player page on BB Reference, There is a section called, "Player Value-Batters" or "Player Value-Pitchers". Click on the word, "WAR", then it will list the player's best seasons in descending order. I went to each player and added up the top 7 seasons with a calculator and wrote it down on a piece a paper.

    5th place was going to be about 50WAR for 7 seasons so I could eliminate any player who didn't get at least 50 WAR for his career. Then I just went down the Career list and clicked on the name. The 20th pitcher with 7 WAR seasons was going to be around 50 so I did the same thing.

    For A-Rod I just took his best 7 seasons from 1994-2003 when he was a SS. It's possible A-Rod could reach 5th place for 3B as well.

    The tricky thing is to miss a season where a player gets traded. It's extremely rare that players of this caliber get traded in season and that season ends up being one of the player's 7 best. Seaver's 1977, Henderson's 1989, are two instances when it happening and Piazza was on three teams in 1998.

    Santo is the big HOF omission.

    Banks had a very odd career. The first half he was essentially A-Rod the second half he was Sid Bream.

    Clemente was very close to the fifth spot in Right. Griffey jr./Snider for the fifth spot in Center. Fisk/Cochrane were very close to the fifth spot at Catcher.

    Pujols is just amazing that he's in second place for First Base.

  20. Matt Young Says:

    Michael E Sullivan ---you're right! My man point was however that Coney should have received enough support to stay on ballot for a few years. Coney was a perfect example of someone that flamed out a year or two too early. If he got to 210+ wins he would have had a pretty good case.

    David Cone (17 seasons):
    WAR: 57.5
    ERA+: 121 (at median)
    Wins: 194
    ERA: 3.46
    Win%: 606
    CY Young Shares: 1.38 with 1 Cy Young and 5 years in top 6
    5 All-stars
    1 Perfect Game
    KO's: 2668 but would have been 3,087
    Gray Ink: 168
    HOFM: 103
    HOFS: 39
    5 World Series with 5 wins and 0 losses --8-3 record with 3.80 ERA playoff stats

  21. Matt Young Says:

    Matthew --does your WAR's from above include offensive numbers? It looks like they do?

  22. Matt Young Says:

    I agree Moose was a little better than Glavine and Pettitte. Glavine hit the magic mark and will go in a few years before Mussina though!

  23. DavidJ Says:

    "I reiterate my questions (see main paragraph post #78) about win probability. WHY does it vary significantly from ERA + in many cases? Does Pedro not dominate in this stat because he did not pitch quite as long per start as those rated above him, & are there other factors? The 1st 7 are significantly better than the others, & Clemens DEGREE of dominance per start over a career remains unexplained to me."

    Mike, as Johnny Twisto said, WPA is a counting stat (like WAR), whereas ERA is a rate stat. Also like WAR (and unlike traditional counting stats such as strikeouts and innings pitched), it's possible to get negative WPA, which is a why a very bad game or a very bad season can lower a pitcher's total (for example, John Smoltz lowered his career WPA by 1.8 with his disastrous season last year).

    You'll find that Clemens's dominance in WPA is pretty similar to his dominance in WAR. In both stats, Clemens, Maddux, and Seaver are the top three modern pitchers, with Clemens having a sizable lead in each case. Keep in mind that the data used for calculating WPA is only available since 1952. If we had it for all eras, it's likely we'd find a few more pitchers (such as Walter Johnson) with totals rivaling Clemens's.

    WPA differs from ERA in that how well you do depends on the game situation. WPA rewards pitchers who pitch very well when the game is close. And unlike ERA, it will not penalize a pitcher much for giving up a few meaningless runs when he has a huge lead. (This is why it's so significant to note that Jack Morris does not have an impressive WPA total--if he truly did "pitch to the score" as well as many people claim he did, that would show up in his WPA, since "pitching to the score" is pretty much exactly what WPA measures.)

    As for Phil Niekro, I'm really not sure why his WPA is as low as it is. He certainly is an outlier in that respect. It's possible that he really just did pitch as well in tight games as other pitchers of his stature, though the other possibility (probably more likely) is that the teams he played on were so bad that he had an inordinately small number of opportunities to pitch with a small lead (which is the kind of situation that presents the best opportunity for accumulating WPA). I am curious now, so perhaps I'll look into his game logs to see if that was the case.

  24. DavidJ Says:

    Whoops, in my last paragraph about that should read "It's possible that really just did not pitch as well . . .".

  25. John Q Says:

    Michael Sullivan,

    Andy Pettite didn't play in 1994 and started 1995 in the bullpen so the strike had little to no impact on him.

    '94-95 were relatively down years for Schilling, Brown and Smoltz.

    The strike cost Mike Mussina two 20 win seasons.

    David Cone had two of his best seasons during the strike of '94-95 and it cost him two 20 win seasons. So in a way the strike was more costly to Cone and Mussina in the way they are perceived. If Cone had two more 20 win seasons, that would give him four for his career. I think with four 20 win seasons, Cone would still be on the ballot and looked upon much differently.

  26. Matt Young Says:

    John Q --My points exactly with Cone --him being off the list is a joke. I wouldn't vote for him, but yes, how would he be looked at if he had 20 more wins. The rest of his numbers are good except not having enough wins. He needed the strike time back and another year. What was really crazy, he was never the same pitcher after the perfect game. He just burned out. Anyone know how many pitches he threw that game?

  27. Andy Says:

    Cone threw 88 pitches in his perfect game:

    Pitch counts in perfect games tend to be low what with the no baserunners and all...

  28. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    My numbers do include offense. The value/production is real and really valuable...I will include it. Even if I didn't, Glavine still comes out on top in every aspect I mentioned.

  29. rico petrocelli Says:

    John Q

    Just enormous stuff. Thank you

    Amazing how the PEAK yields a lst you might expect but cvareer WAR brings in some surprises.

    Yaz though is a lF not RF -- does he still make peak?

    Next debate....Dewey Evans for the Hall? Ron Santo/

  30. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    Somebody mentioned Niekro and his WAR vs. WPA. His defense and park are the bigest culprits. WPA does not consider team defense behind Niekro, but WAR does. In fact, TZ has Niekro picking up over 100 runs lost by the rotten defenses behind him. That number seems extreme and I would like to delve deeper into it a bit. WPA also does not adjust for his tiny park, where WAR does.

  31. Matt Young Says:

    Matthew: But again, you just can't compare them equally unless you just think all National League pitchers have an edge because they hit. If that's your opinion, that's fair enough. Glavine certainly has the edge, mainly b/c of 5 more years though --that is significant in itself for sure. I just don't like the idea of trying to compare them including the offensive numbers when one has them and one doesn't. It's not an equal comparison in IMO. Glavine knew his butter was in the National League for many reasons --he liked to hit and was good at it (great for him), and he got a huge strike-zone --perhaps one of the biggest ever. Sorry, he was crafty, but I use to shake my head at the pitches he got. Personally, i like the national league game more, but I like how it's split.

  32. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    Fine, but Glavine still edges Pettitte in 3 year (which becomes pretty close), 5 year, 7 year, and 10 year WAR - just take 1-2 WAR off to barely change the gap. Glavine would still lead in WAE 18-12. If you prefer WAA, Glavine leads 30-20 without any consideration of Glavine's offense.

    Plus, Pettitte does look like a poor batter in the opportunities that he has had. Granted small sample size, but chances are decent that not hitting helped Pettitte's WAR (a majority of pitchers with high IP totals have below average WAR compared to replacement pitcher).

    I refuse to not include real value that any player created for his team. It would be different if Glavine could only accumulate positive offensive WAR, but he could have been detrimental just as easily. In fact a majority of pitchers with lots of innings have negative offensive WAR. It is likely that Pettitte's WAR benefited from not hitting much - granted small sample size.

  33. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    Oops - sorry for the repeat in there.

  34. John Q Says:

    Rico Petrocelli,

    My bad on Yaz, Oh man, how the heck did I put him RF. Yaz wouldn't make the top 5 in left, Yaz had 51.8 WAR, Joe Jackson had 53.5. F. Robinson should be the 4th right fielder, Clemente should be the 5th Right Fielder.

    Matt Young,

    Also what hurt Cone was the 1993 Season. He had one of his best seasons: 6.6 WAR, 138era+ and had a losing record because he had the worst runs/per game average in the American League, "2.9" runs per game. 2.9 runs per game is brutally low for that time period. Cone's career runs per game average was 4.7 runs per game.

    Check out Cone's game log for 1993, it's just bizarre and incredibly unlucky. He had 9 games that he gave up 2 earned runs or less and either got a no decision or a loss!!

    One of the games he pitched 9 innings, four games he pitched 8 innings, 3 games he pitched 7 innings, and one game he pitched 6 innings. 7 of the games he gave up 2 earned runs, 1 game he gave up 1 earned run, 1 game he gave up 0 earned runs. He lost 5 of those starts and got no decisions in the other four! He easily could have won 18-20 games and gone 18-9, 19-9, or 20-9.

    I really don't know what happened to Cone after 1999, it's like he hit a wall or something. I remember reading something like his 70era+ in 2000 is one of the worst pitching seasons for a starter with 20+ starts on a World Series Team. Then he went to the Red Sox in 2001. Then he retired, then he played for the Mets for a month in 2003. Just a very bizarre ending to a career.

  35. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    I have no problem with Cone in the HOF, personally.

  36. Matt Young Says:

    Thanks for the insight Mr. Petrocelli! Coney just completely flamed out after his perfect game. He was right there knocking on the door with similar careers to Smoltz and Schilling and he just couldn't seal the deal with another 20+ wins (half which were lost due to strike). However, given his big game prowess (yes Coney pitched in some very big playoff games and won), that he might have went in 50 years ago. He just flamed out so badly that the voters just forgot about what a good pitcher he was. He should have stayed on the ballot for a decent look IMO though.

    In reality Coney was a better pitcher than Pettitte, but Pettitte will get a long look at from the Hall. If Bill James had Mussina's chances at 70% induction the year before he got 20 wins (he had 250 wins at the time), then I wonder what Mr. James thinks of Pettitte's chances if he finishes this year at 245-250 wins and retires, which I think he will (One more year Andy!)? Mussina was also clearly better than Pettitte, particularly in-season, but those playoff numbers will likely play big with voters ....and they should. I know other statheads don't like playoff numbers being considered much, but again, I'm a big picture guy, and I don't like it when someone goes in only b/c they have numbers (i.e Kevin Brown if he goes in) or when someone goes in b/c of mystique (you could argue that Catfish was a mystique guy)- Both count, numbers and signature moments IMO. Yes, Pettitte's numbers in season are average at best for the hall (he'd be in the lower third, but arguable), but how will his post-season play out with voters. Even if he finishes this season at 246, I'd really be on the fence (likely the wrong side) of him getting in unless he wins another World Series and pitches well again or comes close to winning a Cy Young at 38. If he pitches one more year and gets to ~260 I think he chances go up significantly. Glavine pitching past 40 certainly helped him.

    Lastly, the more I look at Tommy John's Career, I think he should go in, but not Kaat (sorry Jim). I'd put Tiant in before Kaat. Overall, and I know some take shots at the Hall, I think they do a good job of inducting the right people. There are some questionable ones put in, and some questionable ones left out, but overall, I think the masses would agree on the vast majority that are in.

    Sorry for the long blog, but it's obviously a great game which such a rich history!

  37. Andy Says:

    I always thought Cone wasn't the same after the aneurysm in his arm--I know he had some good games after that, but for me it was the dividing point in his career.

    By the way, if you cut and paste this entire thread into MS Word, it's more than 50 pages and 18,000 words long.

  38. Johnny Twisto Says:

    In 83 starts after the aneurysm, Cone went 45-18, 3.12 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, 9.1 K per 9 IP, 6.7 IP per start. Except for the IP per start, those are all better than his career numbers. He pitched great after the aneurysm. He pitched lousy after the perfect game. I don't think the perfecto had anything to do with it, but it just marks the beginning of the end.

  39. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    point: I think Cone got a raw deal being dropped in his first ballot. I see him as out, but his WAR total is pretty good, especially considering his career was short for a HOF potential pitcher. Rate stats and DICE put him at or above the HoF average. It would certainly be no travesty for him to go in, and I'd take him long before I took Jack Morris. I was *very* surprised to see him drop of the ballot so definitively and quickly, but honestly, I wouldn't vote him in.

    I can see your point about having 2 more 20 win seasons affecting the writer's thoughts, but personally, whether a guy has one or two or ten 20 win seasons is completely irrelevant to my estimation of their hall-worthiness. It does affect the vote counts though. Even though it would only mean another 5-10 wins in his career total, and probably not make an appreciable difference to ERA+/DICE/WAR, it could easily have made the difference to a bunch of writers and kept him on the ballot.

    But it makes no difference to whether he belongs in the hall, IMO. By my lights, he's a borderline out candidate. Better than some who are there, but not good enough for me to support. Moose and Schilling haven't gotten 75% support from the BR crew, but they go before Coney, IMO. So does Brown who I suspect will poll lower still. He's still ahead of Pettitte, but not by a ton. TBH, I think it would be a useful sanity check to poll Coney (or did you do one when he came up in 2008 that I wasn't around for?), and I assume you will be doing KBrown at some point.

  40. Matt Young Says:

    Johnny Twisto says: I don't think the perfecto had anything to do with it, but it just marks the beginning of the end.

    I agree, but it was even more than the beginning of the end in ways --he freakin' went off a cliff in a matter of 15 starts after the perfecto. He could have hung on, but he wasn't the same, he knew it, and he retired --retiring when he did hurt his chances in a big way. He went from knock-knock to goodbye. He had a decent at best year with Sawx. He was such a combination of craftiness and power. I think Coney was better than Brown and Pettitte. Looking at WAR and ERA+, Brown is better, but stepping back and looking at the whole picture, Coney was better for sure. IMO, Pettitte is a better comparison to Brown than Coney. Pettitte to Brown is similar to Mussina vs Schilling. Statheads would clearly choose Brown, but I bet writers and hall of famers would clearly pick Pettitte. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my hunch. Interesting.

  41. Andy Says:

    Hmm clearly my memory of Cone's downturn is wrong.

  42. John Q Says:

    Michael E Sullivan,

    You make some good points and you obviously look at this much more objectively and with a keener eye than the baseball writers do.

    Unfortunately the writers are kind of lazy when it comes to HOF stuff and mostly rely on "gut instinct". Then they'll look at the traditional stats and over-emphasize W/L record. Also, they still put way too much emphasis on 20 win seasons discounting the fact that 5 man rotations, bullpens have drastically changed the meaning of 20 win seasons. Catfish Hunter is extremely overrated but got in the HOF because he had 5 20 win seasons when he really only deserved about 2 or 3.

    Cone gets hurt because his best season was in the strike and cost him a big 23-7 type season. Put that together with a 20 win season in 1995, and then take an objective look at his 1993 season and he is perceived differently. Even if he just had league average run support in 1993, he's a 18-20 game winner.

  43. Andy Says:

    You guys are all forgetting something. Cone can never be in the Hall of Fame because he played for the Mets!!!!!!!!!

    (In case you're not laughing, this is just a joke relating to other threads...)

  44. Matt Young Says:

    As for the Hall being lazy and voting on gut-instincts alone, I don't know if I agree with that. It's not that simple, and I think more voters are crunching numbers now more than ever (a big thanks to sites like this). There should be a combination of number crunching and gut-instinct. Gut-instinct really comes down to those signature moments --those are what hit the gut.

    As convoluted and inconsistent as it might sound, yes, I think Coney was a better pitcher than Pettitte and Brown (perhaps even Glavine that's a shoo-in). However, I understand why both Pettitte and Brown have better chances at the Hall. Getting into the Hall isn't as black and white as many want to make it. Sorry, it just isn't IMO. I get the complexities.

    Cone's inability to get over 200 wins was too large an obstacle for anyone to vote for him -- It's that simple, I get that and I agree with that. However, that doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't a better pitcher than Brown and Pettitte. Brown's lack of wins (213) and lack of signature moments will ultimately hurt him IMO and keep him on the wrong side of the line. I think it will hurt him more than Andy's high ERA of 3.86 and CG 25 and SO of 4. Andy's ERA+ of 117 will somewhat neutralize the high ERA, and his lack of CG and SO will be somewhat passed off as a sign of the times. Whether there are holes in Andy's HGH story or not, the way he handled it was infinitely better and perhaps more justifiable than just about any other accused juicer. This is a wild card for sure. This could work to his advantage (or hurt him )as we go through the years and players like Palmero, Sosa, McGwire, and perhaps Sheffield (I know he only used the cream) and other juicers fail to get significant votes. Perhaps this is unfair. When all said and done, I think Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Pedro, Mussina, Schilling and Smoltz all will somewhat easily get in from this era with Brown and/or/neither Pettitte being the line as to who gets in and who's left out. I would guess that only one of these guys or neither will get in, not both though. It should be interesting to see how it unfolds

    As for Morris, which I think should get in, he's a pretty good comparison to Pettitte as well. Pettitte's WAR and ERA+ will both be substantially better, and both have playoff signature moments (Jack's perhaps the best in the history of the game), and both lead their decade or time-period in wins with high ERA's, but Jack was an ace (I know some want to debate that, but there's really no debate) and Andy wasn't. As for Andy, he's on the wrong side right now, but that could change if he finishes this year with a bang or comes back and pitches effectively for one more year.

  45. DavidJ Says:

    Matt #136: "Mussina was also clearly better than Pettitte, particularly in-season, but those playoff numbers will likely play big with voters ....and they should."

    I'm not convinced that Pettitte was a better postseason pitcher than Mussina:

    Pettitte: 18-9
    Mussina: 7-8

    Pettitte: 40/40
    Mussina: 23/21

    IP, IP/GS:
    Pettitte: 249, 6.23
    Mussina: 139.2, 6.29

    Pettitte: 3.90
    Mussina: 3.42

    Pettitte: 1.333
    Mussina: 1.103

    K/9, BB/9, K/BB:
    Pettitte: 5.9, 2.6, 2.31
    Mussina: 9.3, 2.1, 4.39

    Pettitte: 60%
    Mussina: 62%

    Pettitte: 51
    Mussina: 58

    GmSc 60+:
    Pettitte: 14/40 (35%)
    Mussina: 8/21 (38%)

    GmSc <40:
    Pettitte: 9/40 (22%)
    Mussina: 4/21 (19%)

    Pettitte: 0.082
    Mussina: 0.076

    Pettitte has made about twice as many starts and has the better W/L record, but I don't see much to suggest that he was a better postseason pitcher than Mussina. I think this is a case of people only remembering Mussina's Yankee days, and forgetting how good he was with the Orioles, especially in the '97 postseason, when he was just ridiculously good--though even if you look at just his time with the Yankees, he still has a slightly better postseason ERA (3.80) than Pettitte.

    As for whether or not Pettitte's postseason performances bolster his HOF resume, I'm not sure they really do. His postseason numbers are pretty much exactly the same as his regular season numbers--very good, but not spectacular. He's not in the same class as Schilling and Smoltz, who were legendary postseason performers, going above and beyond what they did in the regular season.

  46. Matt Young Says:

    But that's my point exactly to a degree. Numbers don't tell the whole story. They are a big part, particularly at sites like this, but not the whole story. 18-9 is 18-9, 5 World Series Championships in 8 world series to 0 world series wins is a difference. Pitching 8 innings of shutout ball out-dueling Smoltz in 96 in the swing game is a signature moment. Going 4-0 with a 3.50 era at 37 to get a 5th championship is a signature moment. Even winning the ALCS MVP in 2001 is a signature moment, but to be fair he got torched in the world Series that year. In fact, if they gave out MVP's for the entire playoffs last year, Pettitte or A-Rod would have likely gotten it. I agree that Smoltz and Schilling were perhaps the two best post-season studs ever along with Whitey --Pettitte is after them, but in that argument though. Again, we all agree that Schilling and Smoltz were better and had excellent careers with great playoffs. Mussina pitched well in the playoffs, especially with the O's, but his best signature moment was perhaps his relief effort against the Sawx. Too much on signature moments and you end up with Catfish in the Hall, too much on numbers and you end up with Kevin Brown in the hall. Numbers can water things down too much IMO. To be fair, going on only signature moments can exaggerate a case as well. I want to look at the entire body of evidence, and that takes looking at both and often re-looking and re-examining.

  47. Matt Young Says:

    Morris' numbers are another good example of a post-season mixed bag--nothing spectacular. They are something like 7-4 with a 3.80, but when the biggest stakes were on the line he mostly showed up in a huge way --at least for two of those championships. He literally brought them across the finish line as an ace should do. When looking at the numbers in such fine detail (and I do this as well), one can "lose the forest through the trees".

  48. DavidJ Says:

    I guess I just don't put as much stock into "signature moments" as others do when it comes to HOF consideration. Brown to me is a HOFer, even though he wasn't great in the postseason. Morris to me is nowhere near being a HOFer. Game 7 of '91 was obviously an extraordinary moment, and nothing can ever take that away from him, but it doesn't make him a HOFer, any more more than Game 1 of '88 makes Kirk Gibson a HOFer. (Gibson, incidentally, accumulated nearly as much career WAR as Morris--37.1 to 39.3.) And in any case, as you allude to, Morris's overall postseason record is much spottier than his reputation seems to suggest. He was great in '84 and '91, but he was bad in '87 and '92. In one big game in particular he "showed up in a huge way," but in many others he didn't. Like his reputation for "pitching to the score," his reputation for being a big-game pitcher just doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

  49. Matt Young Says:

    Morris pitched more than one good big game in the playoffs. I'm just saying somewhere in the middle is good --Stat-people want to say the numbers tell the whole story and they don't like that the voters use signature moments in the equation. Perfect example was equating Gibson to Morris. They clearly aren't equal to me. Voters say there's more than just crunching numbers --I'm saying you have to look at both, step back and evaluate both several times, and make a decision. I think that's largely going on now.

  50. DavidJ Says:

    Why are Gibson and Morris "clearly not equal," though? Both had about the same career value, and both had an extraordinary "signature moment." (I know that the answer is that Gibson just wasn't durable enough and played very few full seasons, whereas Morris was a workhorse, as durable as they come. Still, the fact that Gibson had nearly as much career value despite that is hard to ignore.) And how about Bobby Thomson? He was a good-but-not-great player for fifteen seasons (also in that 30-40 WAR range), and had probably the greatest "signature moment" in the history of the game. Should he have been considered for the Hall more seriously than he was? He never got as much as 5% of the vote during fifteen years on the ballot.

    I suppose it's admirable to want to look at more than just the stats--everyone who loves baseball, even the "statheads," know that the game is more than just numbers--but the problem you run into is that the process starts to become rather arbitrary. How do you decide whose "signature moments" count, and whose don't?

    (And I know that Morris had other great postseason games. My point is just that he had many bad games as well, and that his reputation seems to rest disproportionately on Game 7. I guess my real point is that I don't think Morris's career as a whole is borderline HOF to begin with, which is probably where we differ most. I suppose if I thought he was truly a borderline case, I could better understand the argument that the "signature moment" puts him over the top.)

  51. Matt Young Says:

    I know some don't want to use these numbers, but I think they're quite telling of the big differences between Gibson and Morris IMO. Jack was consistently on the leader board throughout 1980-1995 evidenced by his Gray Ink Value. Shoot, by today's standards his Black Ink is pretty good too. He's clearly borderline, but I think statheads short-change him sooo much he's not even borderline. They think he's basically the same as Martinez or Tanana and they are just not even remotely the same. In fact, evidenced that WAR is not the a holy grail as some think, is Tanana's WAR is 55 and Martinez's WAR is 47, but Jack's was 37. See numbers below for the differences in these players. ERA+ was basically the same for all 3.


    Black Ink Pitching - 20 (92), Average HOFer ≈ 40
    Gray Ink Pitching - 193 (48), Average HOFer ≈ 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 122 (64), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 39 (74), Average HOFer ≈ 50


    Black Ink: 0
    Gray Ink Batting - 44 (569), Average HOFer ≈ 144
    Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 16 (907), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 22 (624), Average HOFer ≈ 50


    Black Ink Pitching - 9 (266), Average HOFer ≈ 40
    Gray Ink Pitching - 85 (275), Average HOFer ≈ 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 55 (228), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 35 (96), Average HOFer ≈ 50


    Black Ink Pitching - 17 (122), Average HOFer ≈ 40
    Gray Ink Pitching - 135 (119), Average HOFer ≈ 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 67 (171), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 37 (86), Average HOFer ≈ 50

  52. Matt Young Says:

    Ah, lets Kaat, Tiant and John into the mix as well.

    Kaat: WAR 42

    Black Ink Pitching - 16 (135), Average HOFer ≈ 40
    Gray Ink Pitching - 125 (140), Average HOFer ≈ 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 130 (57), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 44 (53), Average HOFer ≈ 50

    John:WAR 59

    Black Ink Pitching - 8 (300), Average HOFer ≈ 40
    Gray Ink Pitching - 131 (127), Average HOFer ≈ 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 111 (80), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 44 (53), Average HOFer ≈ 50

    Tiant:WAR 60

    Black Ink Pitching - 13 (167), Average HOFer ≈ 40
    Gray Ink Pitching - 115 (167), Average HOFer ≈ 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 97 (99), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 41 (66), Average HOFer ≈ 50

  53. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    And Tiant did that in far less time than Kaat and John. Much, much better WAE and WAA too. Tiant is an easy HOFer for me. John is right on the bubble, and Kaat is a tad behind.

  54. Matt Young Says:

    Morris did his in a year less time than Tiant, He also lost out on 6-7 wins and a 20 win season b/c of the 81 strike.

  55. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    Yeah, Morris did his 21 fewer WAR in one fewer years.

  56. POLL: Jack Morris and the Hall of Fame » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] readers have already had a ton to say about Morris. You can go back and read comments on the Mike Mussina HOF thread or the Mussina/Schilling debate. For some reason both of those threads led to lots of discussion [...]