"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

What Toikey, Give Me Some Moose

How ’bout some Moose-for-the-Hall banter on Turkey Day? Got to keep busy doing something before the football and the cranberry sauce and sleepiness. Cliff and Jay have at it in the video above and here are some links that build a case for Mussina.

Allen Barra in The Wall Street Journal:

The naysayers note that he has never won a Cy Young Award (though he placed in the top six in nine of his 18 seasons); that he doesn’t have a World Series ring (though he’s pitched in two Series as a Yankee); that he has a losing record in the postseason (though he has a respectable playoff ERA of 3.42 and has struck out 145 batters in just 139.2 postseason innings); that he never led the American League in earned run average (though he was in the top six 10 times); and that he led the league in wins just once (1995, though he finished second three times, including 2008). But such arguments focus on what he hasn’t done, rather than on his achievements — which are considerable.

To make the case for Mr. Mussina in the Hall of Fame, start with winning. His 270 victories against 153 defeats are good for a won-lost percentage of .638, tied with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for 10th among pitchers with 3,000 or more innings pitched. He won at least 11 games for 17 consecutive seasons.

Dick Lally at Baseball Library.com continues:

Mussina compiled statistics that become even more impressive than they first appear when you view them in the context of the era in which he played, a period in which offense dominated the game. During the 18 seasons in which he played, Mussina’s e.r.a. was 100 or more points below the league average. To give you an idea of the rarified level of performance those numbers represent, consider that Tom Seaver pitched for 20 seasons, and accomplished that feat in “only” 10 of them; Steve Carlton posted e.r.a.’s that low in only five seasons.

Dan Rosenheck furthers Lally’s argument in a piece for the New York Times:

During Mussina’s 18-year career, league leaders in E.R.A. have posted marks 47 percent below the league average; by contrast, during the 18-year period from 1946 to 1963, the E.R.A. leaders were just 37 percent better than the average.

Some of that difference can be accounted for by the lower innings totals accumulated by modern pitchers. That should not be held against Mussina, because although contemporary bullpen usage has enabled him to pitch more effectively, it has also prevented him from compiling the large innings totals.

But Mussina has benefited from another factor: the greater control modern pitchers can exert over the game. One of the chief insights of applying statistical analysis to baseball in the last decade has been the importance of distinguishing between events that involve the defense — non-home run hits and fielded outs — and what number crunchers call the Three True Outcomes: strikeouts, walks and home runs.

It will be interesting to see how it all pans out especially with the likes of Maddux, Glavine, Clemens, and the Big Unit all hanging it up roughly at the same time. But I believe at some pernt, Moose will jern them in Cooperstown.

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 27, 2008 11:49 am

I made an error in the video, citing Mussina's 15 strike out game in the 97 playoffs. It was against the Indians NOT the Red Sox as I mentioned. And Moose pitched seven innings and whiffed 15. He allowed just one run, in the seventh inning. And wound up with a no decision. The game went into extra innings and the O's lost, 2-1.

2 theplacesyoullgo   ~  Nov 27, 2008 12:37 pm

I've already seen quite a few stories which include some variation on the line, "He was a great pitcher, but he just doesn't make ME [i.e. the writer] think 'Hall of Fame.'" Not only is deciding such matters strictly based upon gut feeling irresponsible, but it's also incredibly narcissistic. "Never mind the Hall precedent -- he doesn't belong in MY Hall of Fame, damnit!"

If one wants to argue against Mussina's candidacy using stats, I welcome that person to do so, but 99% of the cases I've read/heard against his election hinge upon an entirely subjective "I just don't think of him as HOF material" statement.

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 27, 2008 5:25 pm

[3] Agreed. Everyone who uses stats sees Moose as a HOFer, especially considering pitching in the AL East during the Steroid Era. I would agree he fails the 2 'tests' of 1) was he a dominant player of his era 2) was he great.

Mike wasn't great, just excellent for almost his entire career, and I would argue that a few of his early years with Baltimore were 'great', going 16-5 and 18-5 with ERA+'s of 163 and 157.

4 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 27, 2008 10:59 pm

MMussina, 1992: 18/5 241.0 2.54 157 1.079 - Cy Young 4th
Lincecum, 2008: 18/5 227.0 2.62 167 1.172 - Cy Young 1st

I wonder who faced better batters, 1992 Steroid infested AL East or No Drugs allowed 2008 NL West?

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