Where’s the love for Mike Mussina?

This morning on my way to work I forgot to bring my newly-burned Coldplay CD which meant that I was stuck listening to AM Sports Radio. While putting up with Sid Rosenberg on 790 The Ticket I was somewhat perplexed when he starting ranting on about Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. Basically, in the most eloquent manner Sid can come up with he called Mussina overpaid and extremely overrated. Huh?

Looking at Mike’s stats over 18 seasons you can’t help but put him in the top 5 pitchers of the last two decades. He may have never reached that 20-win plateau but he’s hit 19 wins twice, 18 three times, 17 twice, and at least 15 three times. He is perhaps the most reliable pitcher who is not a superstar and for some reason, he gets absolutely zero love from the hobby. In fact, you can buy cards with certified autographs for under $20 dollars all day long on eBay.

Meanwhile, there is a kid in Cincinnati that has gotten off to a great start and could very well spit on a baseball card and sell it for $500 to a bunch of Beckett Message Board zombies. At 39 years of age, Mussina is less than 50 wins away from 300 for his career. If and when he reaches that number, the question still remains: Will he enter the Hall of Fame?

I’m willing to bet on Mussina over Bruce any day of the week. After all, we’ve seen rookies get off to amazing starts only to end up playing in Mexican leagues by the end of their third season. Mike Mussina may not be as appealing as a Joba but has proven he is among the all-time greats. He’s got at least one vote, too bad it doesn’t count.



  1. Coldplay? You mean you were gonna use it as a coaster at work right? I’m sure you didn’t have any intention on listening to…that. Haha.

  2. with any luck, maybe bloggers will get to vote for hall of famers someday. other writters get to, why not you?

  3. I’ve always kept a soft spot for Mike, i have a small collection of his cards in a binder and never pass up an opportunity to grab his 10 cent cards from the bargain bin.

  4. Top 5 pitchers of the past 2 decades? Really? First off all you do mention his shortcomings. No 20 win seasons, no Cy Young awards. However, you have to put the 300 game winners head of him. So Glavine, Maddux and Clemens (roids or no roids, he was still a great pitcher) are ahead of him for sure. Randy Johnson with his 5 Cy Young Awards and 12 wins away from 300 as well as being #2 on the all-time strikeout list. John Smoltz being the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves and he won a Cy Young award. Pedro Martinez having a string of years where he was the most dominant pitcher in the game. period. Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera are probably the 2 most dominating closers the game has ever seen. Then probably would come Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. Top 10 in the past 2 decades? Probably. Top 5? No way.

  5. Moose is a lock for the hall of fame, if not only because the voting sports writers watch two teams and two teams only – yankees and red sox.

    He has the numbers too, dont get me wrong, but I think there are other guys that should get in with him too.

  6. Considering that Bert Blyleven still hasn’t got in, with his 287 wins and lots of strikeouts, I don’t see Moose getting in unless he gets to 300 wins. He’s a good pitcher, but I like the idea of keeping the standards high for HOF entry.

  7. Beppo, compared with MLB pitchers already in the HoF, Mussina exceeds the career statistics of ~50% of them. He never had a dominating peak. Sure, he had an excellent 1992 and 1994, a damn fine 2001, all of which were Cy-Young worthy, but he lacked that powerful stretch of his career on which to hang his hat.

    Maddux. Clemens. Johnson. All of these guys get in ahead of Mussina. Hands down.

    Glavine. Smoltz. Martinez. There are certainly cases to be made for putting these guys in ahead of Mussina, but there are decent arguments on both sides.

    Glavine had such great control of his pitches that he could consistently receive called third strikes that other pitchers wouldn’t get. I’m not sure if that qualifies as a compliment or an insult, but it’s just the truth. Glavine racked up a lot of strikeouts on pitches low and away and out of the zone, but his control is what made the ump go his way like that. The same can be said of Maddux, but Maddux didn’t *rely* on it as much as Glavine. Maddux and Mussina, in their prime years, had equivalent “stuff”. Glavine’s stuff was a notch below, but his career numbers are pretty favorable when compared to Mussina.

    As a starter, even though Smoltz won the Cy Young and Mussina never received one, I would still take Mussina for my team. They were both great postseason pitchers. Both could be slump-busting, rotation-anchoring aces. I will understand if Smoltz gets in first based on his versatility, but there are also two sides to that coin – there is something to be said for Mussina’s durability and longevity. Statistically, when you adjust based on the DH and the parks they played in, Mussina comes out a little ahead if you compare their stretches as starters. Factor in Smoltz’s closing duties, and he may have a slight advantage.

    Martinez, of course deserves to be in. He was dominant. But his career totals are going to be lower than Mussina’s based on his inability to stay healthy. Inability is part of the package, and it DOES have weight when considering a HoF cantidacy. Sandy Koufax is the exception, not the rule.

    Schilling? He never won a Cy Young either. He has three WS rings. There is a high chance of him getting in because of it. He may have played slightly better than Mussina in the postseason, but the difference is not outlandish. Mussina has better career numbers. Even when Schilling was racking up those 22 and 24 win years with the Diamonbacks, his ERA was pretty consistently around 3.00, which equates to about 3.45 in the AL and isn’t too far off from Mussina’s career norms. The truly awesome thing about those seasons for Schilling was the sheer amount of innings he logged, which deserves a tip of the cap.

    The truth is that these guys are the absolute cream of the crop from almost 20 years of pitching. All of them, really, deserve to be in the Hall. Right now, I would say that Blyleven should get in before either Smoltz or Schilling, and even Mussina. But hell, I want them all in.

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