Mussina: Will he get the call in 5 years?

Since Mike Mussina retired, many pundits have asked the requisite question:  is the Moose Hall of Fame-worthy?

A valid question, to be sure.  We’ve had a few retirees in the last decade who were no-brainers (i.e Ripken, Gwynn etc).  But Mussina doesn’t necessarily fall in the “sure thing” category.  That he isn’t a household name doesn’t mean he shouldn’t warrant consideration though.  Let’s take a look. 

The Over-under on his Overall

His career stats are certainly formidable and fall within the parameters of Hall of Fame caliber pitchers. 

W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  IP     ER   HR  BB   SO    ERA 
----------+---+---+---+---+---+------+----+----+----+-
270 153 537 536  57  23 3562.7 1458 376  785 2813 3.68  

A durable pitcher, Moose has pitched the qualifying amount since his second year in the league in 1992.  His 270 wins is tied for 33rd all time.  Winning percentage?  He’s 38th.  In strikeouts, he’s up to 19th. 

While Mussina’s actual ERA of 3.68 puts him  at 549th all-time (tied), his adjusted ERA+ (which is adjusted for the league and ballpark) of 123 moves him up to 78 (tied with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal). 

All of that plus Mussina’s longevity, gives him a decent shot at the Hall. 

The Down Side

But there are the detractors.  There are those who say he never won a Cy Young (he came in 2nd in the voting in 1999).  They say he never won 20 games… well, they USED to say that.  They also point to his 7-9 postseason record. 

These such detractors have dubbed Mussina with the nickname “Mr. Almost” with references to singer Kenny Loggins (due to his song, “I’m Alright”).  Plus the worst insult of all… saying he should be be inducted to the Hall of Very Good. 

Ouch.

Ok, maybe they’re not being fair.  Many defend the Moose, in particular saying that his stats were across the board better (BB/9, WHIP, ERA, even strikeouts) in 2001 than Roger Clemens when Clemens won the Cy Young.  The one thing that Clemens had going for him was his gaudy 20-3 record compared to Mussina’s 17-11. 

That is just one example but it almost typifies Mussina’s career.  Getting the dirty work done, doing it well, and not getting much of the credit.  We’ll see what happens in five years.  Most certainly he will be on the ballot and the same discussion will be had again. 

I would vote yes but ask me again in 2013.

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