Friday, November 21, 2008

Mike Mussina? Hall of Fame?

John Harper of the NY Daily News says no. Because of stats? Because he missed 300 wins? Nope! Because Mussina didn't have enough "moments." Whatever that means.

His overall numbers stack up well against some notable Hall of Famers, including Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Catfish Hunter and even Bob Gibson. Actually, he has a better winning percentage (.638) than any of them, and indeed at 270-153, he would have the best percentage of any player not in the Hall.
Here's the case for Mussina. 537 starts. 270 wins, with only 153 losses. lists his "162-Game Averages" as 34 starts, 17-9, 226 innings pitched, 49 BB against 178 strikeouts, a 3.68 ERA (ERA+ 123), and a 1.192 WHIP. Over 18 years as a professional pitcher, those are very, very good numbers. And 270 wins, for a guy who never made more than 36 starts in a season, is a very impressive number.
Fergie Jenkins made 57 more starts (594) and won 14 more games (284). He also lost 71 more games, most likely because of less use and specialization in the bullpens when he pitched. He threw 267 complete games in his career. Moose threw only 57, however, that's not really Mussina's fault. The game is different.
Jenkins also didn't spend the better portion of his career pitching to guys who were injecting fucking horse steroids into their asses. And to boot, Jenkins' career ERA+? 115. Which means, Mussina, over his career, has been better in comparison to his peers, than Jenkins was to his.
Marichal won only 243 games, and his 123 ERA+ is the same as Mussina's. Yeah, he went 26-9 in 1968. He also went 6-16 in 1972. Maybe it had something to do with throwing 3 300+ inning seasons.
Catfish Hunter finished 224-166 with a 104 ERA+. Looking at his numbers right now is making me wonder who he blew to get into the Hall of Fame. Suffice to say, I'm not impressed.
And Bob Gibson, to me, is one of the 5 best pitchers in baseball history. Mussina doesn't even get to be in the room for that conversation, so I'm not going to compare him to Gibson.
So why isn't Mussina a Hall guy, John Harper?
You look at Mussina's career and it's hard to find the wow factor that usually defines the very best players of an era.
Wow factor? Hang on, let me check Baseball Prospectus. They usually have stats for those crazy acronyms. WOW? Is that a new acronym? What does it stand for?
Wait a second... there's no such stat as "WOW." What are you talking about John Harper? Oh. Fuck.
You're saying that he can't be a Hall of Famer, because, despite having statistical credibility and value over an 18 year career, he never impressed you enough? He never trotted out of the dugout in a cut up leather jacket with a crazy haircut, with WILD THING playing on the PA system? He never threw 14 shutout innings in game 7 of the World Series? He never appeared in a porno with guys named Lexington Steele and Mandingo and slapped around a 19 year old blonde with his "freakishly large certain part of the male anatomy?"
This is your hall of fame criteria?
He didn't win a Cy Young Award, finished second once, and had a few other fourths and fifths.
Because Cliff Lee won 24 games this year? And Roy Halladay threw 700 innings? I'm not sure, but I think it was 700.
And in 1999, he finished second behind Pedro Martinez, who had an ERA+ of 243!!
Point is... his lack of a Cy Young isn't because he was never a great pitcher. It's just that he was never the greatest pitcher in a league with Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez gobbling up most of them.
And what the fuck were the voters thinking in 1992? They gave the Cy Young to Dennis Eckersley? For throwing 80 innings? Followed by Blackjack McDowell and Roger Clemens... then followed by Mussina, who went 18-5 that year, with a 2.54 ERA? The case for Clemens that year was strong too... but McDowell and Eck had no business being considered... and they got most of the votes.
He didn't win a championship, and though Mussina pitched well in some big postseason games, he never had a brilliant postseason that demanded attention in the manner of John Smoltz, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, or even Josh Beckett or Cole Hamels.
He didn't win a championship. By himself. Nope, he went 7-8 in the post-season... with a 3.42 ERA and he struck out 145 in 139 innings.
In 1997, with Baltimore, he was 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in the Divisional Round, carrying Baltimore over Seattle. Then, in 2 starts against Cleveland, he allowed 1 run and 4 hits, in 15 innings. Not brilliant? Or maybe you just don't remember that...
Never mind Gibson, who won 251 games in his career, or 19 fewer than Mussina, but had two Cy Youngs, one MVP, and won World Series for the Cardinals in 1964 and '67 practically singlehandedly.
So you're saying that a pitcher has to be as good as Bob Gibson to make it into the Hall of Fame? Then we ought to throw about just about every pitcher who's already there... and forget about adding new guys. Maybe Pedro. Koufax. A handful of others at best. This is a moronic argument. Bob Gibson was the Shaquille O'Neal of baseball back then.
He was so nasty, that they lowered the mound height so batters wouldn't shit down their legs when he threw his slider. Gibson was a fucking buzzsaw.
In addition, while winning 20 games this season at 39 was quite a feat, Mussina never had one or more of those incandescent seasons that stamp pitchers as bound for Cooperstown.
Umm... 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 1992. 16-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 24 starts in 1994 (apparently, the strike was his fault too.) 19-9 with a 3.29 ERA in 1995. 15-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 1997 (with minimal run support at best.) 17-11 in his first year in New York, in 2001... and if you remember, despite playing for the Yankees, he received about the worst run support in baseball that year.
However, Marichal set himself apart as a superstar with an eight-year run in which he posted seasons of 18-11, 25-8, 21-8, 22-13, 25-6, 14-10, 26-9, and 21-11. That pretty much defines dominance.
His starts in those years? 36, 40, 33, 37, 36, 26, 38, 37.
Give Mussina an extra 4 or 5 starts in 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2002... and he probably gives you 5 20 win seasons.
You can make the case that Mussina was more consistent over his 18 years than Tom Glavine, but Glavine has two Cy Young awards, five 20-win seasons and a world championship, in addition to 305 wins, all of which make him practically automatic.
You can make the case that Glavine made 145 more starts than Mike Mussina, and won only 35 more games. And that if Mussina hung around and pitched until his 50th birthday like Glavine, he'd probably have 330 wins or so. And that it was probably a little easier for Glavine, since he spent his career following Greg Maddux and John Smoltz in the rotation. He was a glorified fucking 3 starter who walked 1500 guys in his career. And avoided the American League like the clap.
For me the argument for Mussina in the Hall falls just short, subject to review in five years as we gain more and more perspective on the steroids era. If only he'd had a few more moments that were as remarkable as his decision to retire as a 20-game winner.
A few more moments? You mean like the time in 2001 when he came within 1 strike of a perfect game... in Boston... before Carl Everett broke it up? And the only reason they sent Everett to the plate... was because he crowded the plate, and they hoped Mussina would HIT HIM WITH THE BALL?
Or in 1995, when Mussina was on the mound and got the win in Cal Ripkin's 2,131st consecutive game played?
Or out of the bullpen in the 2003 ALCS to shut down the Red Sox?
Or in 2006, when he became the first pitcher in AL History to win 10 or more games in 15 consecutive seasons?
How about in 1998 when he retired 23 straight, before Frank Catalanotto's double in the 8th?
1997 again Cleveland, when he was perfect for 25 outs before Sandy Alomar, Jr. got to him for a single?
How about the 7 gold gloves? You like awards. They mean shit to me... but you like them.
This guy belongs in the hall. John Harper, you belong in a different hall for this terrible article.

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