An Underrated Yankee? More on Mussina.

Mike Mussina’s “Hall of Fame” candidacy has grown on me.  A lot.

At first I was a little skeptical because Mussina was out-pitched by multiple pitchers during the same period of time. 

Pedro, Randy, Roger, and Greg.  All better, clearly.

But who were those pitchers?  Four of the greatest ever.

So the next “tier” begins:  Schilling, Smoltz, Glavine, and…Mussina. 

Not the same kind of “prestige.” 

So during the generation of baseball players that I have witnessed, witnessed coherently anyway, Mike Mussina is no worse than the 8th best pitcher over that time-frame (probably the 8th).

8th best!

If I am missing someone that has legitimate beef to be considered greater than Mussina over the past 20 years, then please, feel free to chime in about it. 

So over the course of two decades, there were between 130-150 available rotation spots.  If Mussina was the 8th best out of either 130, 140, or 150 pitchers, isn’t that pretty great?

If that isn’t great, how about the number of pitchers to step on the mound over that same period of time. 

Well-more than 150, and I am not even including relievers.

Many couldn’t keep their jobs due to poor performance.  Many couldn’t stay healthy enough.  Many were simply on the team because it added to the depth of the rotation.

Whatever the reason was, there were many, many pitchers in and out of the game over Mussina’s career.

And Mussina stuck around.  Stuck around a long time.  18 years to be exact.  Which is great because his career extended from 1991-2008.  Roughly two decades.  And each decade just about in their entirety.

I know that some analysts of the game frown upon people referring to Jack Morris as a Hall of Famer because he had the most wins in the 80’s.  And I completely agree.  But the logic is flawed to begin with, and quite ludicrous if you ask me.

  • Wins are overrated.  I don’t value them much.  A lot of wins can represent longevity, but the quality around the “Win/Loss” record is much more important to me (although a pitcher must accumulate some counting numbers). 
  • Ten years isn’t 18 years.  The longer the time period the better the sample, and the more difficult it is to stay great.
  • Mike Mussina was clearly a much better pitcher than Jack Morris.  Clearly.

So we take just about a 20 year period, we say that a pitcher was the 8th best.  Can we agree that the pitcher in question was great? 

Great players should be in the Hall of Fame.  That is what it is for.

Mussina never “awed” anyone quite the same way that the top four pitchers of the decade did.  But he still awed people.  I would like to ask the Baltimore fans during his tenure just how great Mussina was while he was there.  Because I am pretty sure that they will say that Mussina was incredible.

But then I would question that, because it is very possible for fans to overrate their “Hometown Hero.”  So I would browse the numbers and see what conclusion I could come up with on my own.

And that conclusion would be that Mike Mussina was a great pitcher. 


  1. mikeeff

    finally able to sign in–

    i definitely agree with you here–his win % is his most impressive stat. of course andy pettitte who seemingly never gets any consideration for the hall has one of the highest win % of anyone. what’s yr take on him?

  2. mikeeff

    and lets not forget he pitched his entire career in the AL east against a bunch of juiced up guys. and no –there is no way he did PEDs.

  3. joefromnewhampshire

    My take on Pettitte? I don’t think he is a Hall of Famer, but Pettitte was definitely a very good pitcher, just not great. I think that MY LINE is drawn after Mussina as far as the pitchers from this era are concerned. And while I value win % more than just “Wins” I still look to other numbers first.

  4. PWHjort

    “Mike Mussina was clearly a much better pitcher than Jack Morris. Clearly.” I agree. Question though, do you think Morris belongs in the Hall?

  5. joefromnewhampshire

    No, I do not. I only used Morris because people refer to something he did over a decade, which is sort of cherry-picking. Not to mention they used “wins” to do it. But I chose Mussina over two decades, which at least increases the chance that he was actually great.

  6. PWHjort

    I have no statistical reason to back this up, though Morris didn’t have a terrible career by the numbers, he didn’t have a great one, but I am of the belief that Morris should be in the hall of fame. The hall of fame is for remembering and celebrating the careers of legendary players. When you look back 50, 100 years, nobody remembers or talks about players unless they’re in the hall of fame. Jack Morris, because of his iconic status, because of his ferocity on the mound, because he pitched a 10-inning shutout to win the 7th game of the 1991 World Series, and because he was so fearless and such a warrior, should be remembered. For this reason, I think he belongs in the hall of fame. His numbers aren’t there, but the persona is. Sure, Jack Morris shouldn’t have his career celebrated like Bob Gibson’s, but he SHOULD be remembered from generation to generation. He’s a legend and the hall of fame is a place to preserve legends.

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