They say that it is never too early to begin looking to the future. Therefore just one day after the MLB Hall of Fame vote controversy, I am looking ahead to next year’s class. There are tons of great names that will be on the ballot for the first time such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. However, there is one player that is eligible that I think will get overlooked - Mike Mussina.
Some people at this point will probably say, “Mussina was nothing compared to Maddux and Glavine!” Those people are right. However, it does not make Mussina any less worthy.
Mike Mussina began his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1991, posting a 4-5 record with a 2.87 ERA. Not the best numbers, but not bad either. In his sophomore season, “Moose” went 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA. He would never post a losing record with Baltimore until his final season in 2000, where he went 11-15 with a 3.79 ERA. His final line with the O’s was 147-81, with a 3.68 ERA and 1535 strikeouts.
After the 2000 season, Mussina became a free agent. Despite his displeasure of playing in a big city, he signed on with the New York Yankees.
After his shaky 2000 season, Mussina rebounded in 2001, and became a big part of the Yankees’ rotation. He would go on to win 17 games that year for the Yankees, along with only 11 losses, and a 3.15 ERA to boot. Mussina would spend eight years with the Bombers, putting up another solid line of 123-72 with a 3.88 ERA and 1278 strikeouts. Mussina would retire after the 2008 season.
Oh, that 2008 season…
The interesting thing about Mussina is that he was never a 20 game winner until his final season in 2008. He won 19 games twice in the 90′s with the Orioles, and won 18 games three times. However, that 20-win season always eluded him. Mussina was certainly on pace to win 20 games during the 1994 season, however, the strike forced him to be held to a record of 16-5.
In a dreadful year for the Yankees, Mussina was the lone bright spot.
Mussina would finish his career with a line that is certainly no dud:
270-153, 3.68 ERA, 3562.2 IP, 2813 SO
When you compare his career to other pitchers, he matches up with some of the greatest of all time. Mussina compares to the likes of Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Carl Hubbell, Clark Griffith, Jim Bunning, and Jack Morris.
All of those players – sans Morris – have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Baseball-reference.com also conducts certain tests with players to see if they meet the standards of a typical Hall of Fame player. In the “Grey Ink” test, Mussina has 250 points while the average Hall of Fame player has 185.
In both the “Hall of Fame Monitor” and “Hall of Fame Standards” tests, Mussina is above the averages as well. In the former, Mussina has a score of 121 – while the average is 100. In the latter, Mussina has a score of 54 – while the average is 50.
While he most likely will not get in his first time on the ballot, Mussina deserves to be in the Hall of Fame just as much as Maddux or Glavine do – whether that be as an Oriole or a Yankee. He was one of the most underrated pitchers during a time when the game’s hitters would destroy the ball if a pitcher made a mistake – something that so many people tend to overlook.
It is only a matter of time.