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Mike Mussina, HOFer

Posted by Andy on November 24, 2008

There is no debate. Mike Mussina belongs in the Hall of Fame.


Start with the fact that his HOF standards are 54, as compared to 50 for the average HOFer. His HOF Monitor is 121, with a likely HOFer being over 100. His gray ink is 244, 23rd highest all-time for pitchers, with an average HOFer at 185.

He is 33rd all-time in wins.

Among pitchers with at least 200 career wins, he has the 12th-best winning percentage.

He has the 15th-most wins in baseball over the last 50 years.

Of the 68 pitchers to throw at least 3500 innings since 1876 (not 1976) he's got the best K/BB ratio of all. And he has the 13th-best K/BB ratio of all-time for ALL pitchers.

He has certainly benefited from playing on good teams, but not as much as you'd think. His actual W/L record was 270-153 (.638) and his neutralized W/L record was 247/161 (.605.) He'd still have won more than 60% of his decisions. His actual career ERA was 3.68 but thanks to playing in some good parks for hitters, his neutralized ERA was 3.25.

He has won 7 Gold Gloves.

He pitched in 16 post-season series, for a total of 139.2 IP with a 3.42 ERA. In two World Series, he pitched 18 innings with a 3.00 ERA, 5 walks and 23 strikeouts.

For pitchers active in 2008, he has the 3rd-most career IP for a pitcher with a WHIP under 1.200. The only guys ahead of him are future first-ballot HOFers Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux.

7 Responses to “Mike Mussina, HOFer”

  1. AMusingFool Says:

    I'm less sold on him, overall. (I'm not sure that he doesn't belong, but I'm not sure that he does, either.) I'd really like to see his run-support numbers. While I know he had at least one year with incredibly bad support, I suspect he had more than a couple with very good support. I'm also a bit curious about the neutralized numbers you posted. I'm not sure how to generate those numbers, but the park factors for where he played were not strongly in favor of him playing in hitters parks.

    In Baltimore, his home park played as a hitters park only 4 times (and only two strongly so; 92-95). It played as a pitcher's park five times (all strongly; 91, 97-00), and was essentially neutral the remaining year.

    In NY, it was essentially neutral three times (02, 06, 07), twice favoring hitters (01, 08), and the remaining years favoring pitchers.

    (All factors looked at were the multiyear averages listed here. I considered less than 1% to be neutral, 1-2% to be favoring, and >2% to be strongly favoring)

    Which, I suppose, is a long-winded way of saying that I would expect neutralizing for park would not help his case.

  2. David in Toledo Says:

    What is "There is no debate" but an invitation to a debate? . . .

    Yes, Mussina (274) is in line, but he's in line after Bert Blyleven (339), Roger Clemens (probably, 440), Greg Maddux (395), Randy Johnson (327), Tom Glavine (315), John Smoltz (288), Pedro Martinez (251), Mariano Rivera (201), and perhaps Tommy John. That puts him 8th, 9th, or 10th in line.

    Yes, the numbers are career win shares, and we shouldn't decide based on them. Pedro and Mariano have fewer ws than Mussina, but they deserve to be closer to the front of the line. [Nobody needs an argument here, right?]

    Now, I wouldn't necessarily vote to keep Mussina out until all the others got in, just because he retired earlier than some. And I have no gripe with Mussina joining Jim Bunning, Rube Marquard, Dazzy Vance, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, etc. I would be somewhat annoyed if Mike Mussina sailed right in and some of those in my first paragraph were kept out for 15 years.

  3. Jgeller Says:

    I was looking at this old post by Steve:
    Mussina had his 25+ starts (34) and an ERA+ of 132. That sets the mark for 39 year olds for the Yankees.
    It's quite remarkable how a year ago, Mussina in the hall of fame was a massive question mark. Look what the power of a 20 win season is. He went from borderline to first ballot potential. Now yes the 250 to 270 win increase had something to do with it. But it was largely the 20 wins.
    Also, he's only the 5th pitcher since 1900 to walk away after a 20 win season. Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte were Black Sox and banned. Sandy Koufax had arm troubles. Henry Schmidt played just 1 season in 1903 and got 22 wins.

  4. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    The "neutralize" feature shows Mussina's ERA based on an average historical run-environment. The drop in his ERA has a lot to do with his pitching during a high-offense era, and little to do with his parks.

    MusingFool, you can "neutralize" stats on any player's main B-R page (just look above his numbers).

  5. gerry Says:

    Before the 2008 season, Bill James gave Mussina a 70% chance of being elected to the Hall of Fame based on what Mussina had done to date, and an 80% chance based on what James expected Mussina's final numbers to be. So James didn't think there was so much of a question mark, even before this season.

    In support of his numbers, James wrote that there were 23 pitchers with 230+ wins and 100 more wins than losses; 18 of them were in the Hall, and the other 5 were Clemens, Maddux, RJ, Glavine, and Mussina. This looks pretty convincing. On the other hand, those 18 pitchers include Walter Johnson and Cy Young and Christy Mathewson and a few other guys whose relevance to Mussina is roughly zero.

    Does Mussina still hold the record for most wins at Camden Yards? He did, with 75, after the 2003 season.

  6. Raphy Says:

    Gerry, I'm not sure what significance that has, but yes.

    In fact in Camden Yard's short history only two other pitchers have even started as many games there as Mussina won there.

    Still, I'm not sure what the point is.

  7. gerry Says:

    Raphy, it was just a bit of trivia, not meant to have any significance. Thanks for taking the trouble to compile those lists.