Mike Mussina: The Case for Induction

Mike Mussina is just one of many players on the edge of enshrinement into the Hall. Let’s take a look at the numbers/achievements and see whether or not he is worthy of an eventual summer trip to Cooperstown.

The Numbers

  • Career record 270-153
  • Career ERA 3.68
  • 2,813 Strikeouts
  • 5x All Star
  • 7x Gold Glove Winner
MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Mussina with the Yankees 2008: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It should be noted here that I’ve never been one to use All Star appearances as any sort of barometer for HOF induction; fan voting has made that virtually impossible (a topic for a future post, perhaps). On the other hand I believe it’s relevant here seeing as how pitchers are not voted in by fans.

Mussina’s 270 wins (ranked 33rd all time) is below the presumed 300-win stamp and he never won 20 games in a season. On the other hand he is above the HOF average for wins by a pitcher (253, according to baseball-reference.com). Except for his rookie season Mussina never won fewer than 11 games in a season.

Of the 75 pitchers in the Hall, only 27 have more wins, only 13 have a higher winning percentage than Mussina’s .638, and only 15 have more strikeouts. The 7 Gold Glove awards demonstrate his above average ability to field his position.

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2001. Mussina hangs his head after Carl Everett’s two-out, two-strike hit. Mussina had retired the first 26 batters he’d faced prior to the hit. Jim Davis – Boston Globe

Some detractors will say ‘well, he never won a Cy Young.’ The easy rebuttal to that argument is that there are several pitchers in the Hall who are also without the trophy, most notably Bert Blyleven, Juan Marichal, Phil Niekro, and Nolan Ryan. One could also say that Mussina was a victim of the era in which he pitched. He had the misfortune to pitch in the same league (and division) as Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens. The two won a total of 6 awards during Mussina’s peak.

Look, I make no effort to hide the fact that I am a die-hard Yankees fan. You could make the argument that I have some sort of bias but the numbers don’t lie. His numbers are right up there with some of the best to ever play. They’re right up there with current (and possible future) members of the HOF. Currently in his third year of eligibility, Mussina received 43% of the vote on this most recent ballot (still well short of the 75% required for induction). His percentage has increased on each ballot and looking forward, his best chance looks like the 2017 ballot. Vladimir Guerrero and Pudge Rodriguez look to be the only first-ballot locks. Maybe next summer is when we’ll get to see Mussina take his rightful place in Cooperstown among the great pitchers of the game.

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