Today, Major League Baseball is celebrating the careers of the chosen few that were deemed worthy of enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although, for the fourth consecutive year, the Baseball Writers of America have refused to honor one of the game’s all-time great pitchers. The writers, once again, neglected to admit that Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer.
Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer
The Simple Reason Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer
Tom Glavine was inducted into the Hall of Fame, on his first ballot, in 2014. He tallied 91.9% of the vote, Moose snagged just 51.8% in 2017—his fourth time on the ballot.
Glavine, who pitched in the bigs for 22 seasons, tallied a WAR just under 74 and had a winning percentage of .600. Mussina tallied a .638 winning percentage and had only 35 less wins, despite having 146 less starts. He also had a WAR of 83.
Mussina recorded 207 more strikeouts, one more complete game, and just two less shutouts—in 146 less starts. Glavine’s ERA is 0.14 under Mussina’s, but Glavine also walked nearly twice as many batters as Moose did.
When Mussina retired, he was in the top 20 all-time in strikeouts, one spot ahead of Cy Young. Ironically enough, Moose never did win that elusive Cy Young Award. Although, he did finish in the top-six in Cy Young voting eight times in his 18-year career.
Throughout his career, Mussina consistently fell short of the flashy accolades which would have likely guaranteed him the earlier induction he so rightfully deserved. Mussina never won a Cy Young, though he was in the top-six for nearly half of his professional career.
Mussina never won a World Series, though he appeared in and lost two—and retired just before the Yankees won one in 2009. He won 17 or more games in eight of his 18 seasons, but only won 20 games once—in his final year.
He was only a five-time All-Star, compared to Steve Carlton and Glavine’s 10 or Nolan Ryan and Pedro Martinez‘s eight. Mussina never threw a perfect game or a no-hitter, but took four into the eighth inning or later—the most by a pitcher to not throw one.
Mussina never had a single-season in which his K/9 was over nine, though his career postseason K/9 was 9.3. He also had a higher career winning percentage than Greg Maddux, Carlton, and Ryan.
The Full Story: Why Mike Mussina Should be a Hall of Famer
Moose was never as awe-inspiring as Randy Johnson. He didn’t have the bravado and swagger of Pedro.
Nor did he have the versatility of John Smoltz, or the legendary control of Maddux. Nevertheless, Mussina did have a Hall of Fame career.
Mussina was a gritty, working man’s pitcher. His signature was a sharp knuckle-curveball which often resulted in strikeouts on pitches in the dirt.
For 18 seasons, he made major league hitters hack at pitches that even Vladimir Guerrero couldn’t hit. Then, as the catcher tossed the ball to first, the fans bellowed “Moose.”
Mussina’s 83 career WAR is higher than Smoltz’s, due in part to his time in the bullpen. It is also 1.2 above Nolan Ryan, and just one below Pedro. He also tallied more career wins than Jim Palmer, Bob Feller, and Ted Lyons—all of whom are Hall of Famers.
Carlton was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1994, after he got 95.8% of the vote. Carlton’s career was filled with accolades: four Cy Young Awards, three top-five MVP finishes, and two World Series titles.
Carlton had 4,136 strikeouts in his 24-year career, but just a K/9 of 7.1. This is the exact same K/9 as Mussina, except Carlton had a higher BB/9 and threw over 1,600 more innings than Mussina.
When taking into account personal and team accomplishments, along with his ERA and win total, Carlton undoubtedly had a better career than Mussina.
But was his career so much better, that Mussina should be a fifth ballot Hall of Famer and Carlton should be a first? That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when considering that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both received more votes than Mussina this past year.
Those two are both on their respective fifth years of eligibility and are all-time great players, but they are notorious cheaters. How can the Baseball Writers of America have vilified cheaters like Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez, only to favor Bonds and Clemens over Mussina?
The answer to that is hazy and will likely be in a book one day, but as of right now it’s perplexing to say the least. If the Steroid Era is as big of a black eye to the game of baseball as it is said to be, then why would the writers not induct a pitcher who had a great career during said era?
Why would they not celebrate one’s greatness, in spite of the odds being stacked against them?
What matters more, a career’s worth of statistics or individual awards? One could say that they go hand-in-hand, but for a pitcher like Mussina they certainly didn’t.
Awards or not, Mussina is destined for Cooperstown one day. It took Moose 18 years to get that 20-win season, one can only hope his day in Cooperstown comes much quicker.