Hold On a Minute, Boz...
Now, I love the Moose as much as the next guy. Covered him for a number of years in Baltimore. Still love sitting and talking ball with him. Fully appreciate what he has accomplished. Will be rooting hard for him to win No. 20 on Sunday, because I do believe it (unfortunately) will have some bearing on his HOF candidacy -- and I say "unfortunately" because we all know that number of wins is the most irrelevant statistic for evaluating a pitcher's performance.
I would be happy for Mike Mussina if he made it to Cooperstown. But I don't think he'll get my vote. (Or, I should say, he wouldn't get my vote if The Post allowed us to vote.) Perhaps, as Boz writes, I am out of my mind. Or perhaps I am an unabashed elitist who thinks the Hall has already been watered down by too many good-but-not-great electees.
Or perhaps I can make a case why Mussina doesn't belong in Cooperstown.
My primary criterion for evaluating a player's Hall-worthiness is whether he can be considered the dominant player at his position during his era (or one of the two or three most dominant). In the case of Mussina, he was, at best, the fourth-best right-handed starting pitcher of his era (behind Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens). At worst, he was also behind John Smoltz and Curt Schilling, with Roy Halladay (granted, perhaps he stretches the definition of Mussina's era) likely to surpass him by the time he's done.
Here are the career ERA+ figures -- a stat available at Baseball-Reference.com that adjusts for stadium and league effects, with 100 representing a league-average figure -- for selected RH starters of Mussina's era. In parantheses are each pitcher's number of Cy Young awards, an indication of how the pitcher was perceived during his era:
Pedro Martinez, 155 (3)
Roger Clemens, 143 (7)
Greg Maddux, 132 (4)
Roy Halladay, 131 (1)
John Smoltz, 127 (1)
Kevin Brown, 127 (0)
Curt Schilling, 127 (0)
Mike Mussina, 122 (0)
David Cone, 120 (1)
If you only consider each pitcher's five best full seasons, here is how they stack up:
Martinez: 291, 243, 219, 210, 202
Clemens: 226*, 221, 213, 193*, 177
Maddux: 271, 262, 189, 187, 171
Smoltz: 383 (as reliever), 157 (as reliever), 149, 143, 138
Schilling: 159, 157, 151, 150, 150
Halladay: 184, 158, 153, 146, 145
Brown: 216, 169, 169, 164, 150
Mussina: 163, 157, 145, 142, 137
Cone: 174, 170, 161, 159, 146
I'm not claiming that ERA+ is a perfect stat (though I am saying it's more meaningful than win-loss records), but it is worth noting that among the active pitchers with a higher career ERA+ than Mussina's 122 are Carlos Zambrano (128) and Tim Hudson (126), while Derek Lowe is tied with him at 122. Not quite Hall-of-Fame company.
My guess is Mussina will get in, based on his wins (269 and counting) and the fact he spent nearly half his career pitching for the Yankees (which automatically jacks up your "legacy" by several notches). But that doesn't mean he'll deserve it. Sorry, Boz.
Posted by: Ben | September 25, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 25, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 756* | September 25, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: KR | September 25, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chris | September 25, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jc | September 25, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dave Sheinin | September 25, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Ryan | September 25, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 6th and D | September 25, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tom | September 25, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chris | September 25, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | September 25, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: CE | September 25, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bosox1419 | September 26, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.