Who Was Better? Glavine or Mussina?

     Both are probably Hall of Famer’s, both are basically done–even though Glavine is still pitching–and both have similar ERA+’s.  Similar, not identical.  Mussina actually has the better ERA+ of 123 to Glavine’s 118.  But Glavine has thrown more innings, so naturally, it is going to be difficult to pitch at the same rate.  They both have strong cases for induction to the Hall, Glavine’s a bit stronger in actuality because of the 300 Wins.  But Wins are overrated, although in this case they are an indicator of Glavine helping his team win more, due to pitching longer, at a slightly lesser rate than Mussina. 

The Regular Season    

     Glavine:  Tom Glavine is the lesser of the “trio of greatness” that Atlanta had during the 90’s.  Smoltz was more dominating.  Maddux was even more deceptive.  But Glavine was great in his own way.  One does not win a Cy Young, or two in this case, award by being mediocre.  Glavine accumulated 4,413 innings over his career.  Struck out 2,607 batters while walking 1500.  Glavine’s ERA+ was 118.  He had an astounding ten seasons greater than 125 in the ERA+ category.  And like Greg Maddux, Glavine was a very, very durable pitcher.  17 times starting 30+ games, and no fewer than 25 starts in a season, if one were to exclude his 2008 where he started only 13 games at age 42.  Tom Glavine was a great pitcher, and like I said, Glavine’s ERA+ is lower (higher the better) than Mussina’s because he has pitched more innings, and pitched 2+ seasons longer than Mussina, meaning that Glavine was older and closer to average, Mussina chose to retire. 

     Mussina:  Mike Mussina’s case has grown a lot since his near-retirement, and ultimately his actual retirement.  So what if Mussina wasn’t Pedro, Randy, Maddux or Clemens.  Mussina was pretty darn close to Smoltz, Glavine, and Schilling.  If over a period of over ten seasons, a pitcher is one of the eight best, even if he is the eighth best, is that not great?  One thing that can be held against Mussina is the zero Cy Youngs.  But that is subjective analysis at its best.  I don’t ignore the votes, or the awards, but I try and dig deeper, because it is very possible that the best pitcher doesn’t always win. 

     Speaking of:  In 2001 Roger Clemens won the Cy Young award, now I don’t know who deserved the award most, but Mussina had a lower ERA on the same team, and had the same amount of strikeouts, but about 20 fewer walks.  Clemens finished 20-3.  Mussina 17-11.  But Mussina received only 4.09 Runs/Game, while Clemens had 5.88 Runs/Game behind him in his victories.  That is pretty close to two runs a game extra that Clemens received.  Now I am not saying that Mussina deserved the award, as there were other good pitchers that year too.  But voters chose Clemens based on his record, and I am sure partially on his reputation.  He WAS Roger Clemens after all.  ( I stole JoePo’s format of using italics when I digress)

     Back to Mussina’s numbers though, which I kind of need to get out there.  ERA+ of 123 as I mentioned; 3,562 Innings, 2813 K’s, 785 walks.  Mussina wasn’t as durable as Glavine, and I believe this is where he will be hurt most in the comparison.  12 times Mussina starter over 30 games, and of course Mussina retired earlier than Glavine did.  But it isn’t as though Mussina spent chunks of time on the DL either.  Mussina threw fewer than 30 games on five different occasions, yet still never threw fewer than 24. 

     Mussina’s WHIP was 1.192, clearly better than Glavine’s 1.314.  You don’t like WHIP for some reason?  Well, Mussina allowed fewer baserunners based on whatever metric you choose to use; .297-.319.  And Mussina’s “opponents OPS” was .696 versus .697 for Glavine–virtually identical–except…Mussina had to face a DH his entire career, Glavine had to face pitchers and pinch hitters instead. 

   The Postseason

     Glavine spent an absurd amount of time in the playoffs, opportunities that Mussina did not have while with the orioles.  I firmly believe that if Mussina takes Glavine’s spot on that Braves roster, then the Braves would of had the same kind of success.  Glavine pitched a full season’s worth of innings in the postseason; 218.  His ERA was actually lower at 3.42, pretty close to his regular season ERA of 3.54, but the playoffs have stronger opponents.  Glavine was a good postseason pitcher, as he was in the regular season.

     Mussina never won a World Series, but was on the cusp of one, and it wasn’t his fault that Rivera blew a save, even though he never blew saves.  Mussina’s sampling of the postseason is smaller than Glavine’s, however, still much greater than most pitchers will experience:  139 innings and a 3.42 ERA, which is exactly what Glavine’s was.  Crazy, I know.  Mussina too had success in the postseason, even though some seem to think otherwise.

     Both experienced good postseason’s on an individual basis.  Both were great in the regular season, although not the best of their time  Both were in the Top 10, which is pretty good in my book, the book that I haven’t written of course.  Both all around were eerily similiar.  Glavine pitched longer, and owns the counting numbers.  Mussina owns the rate numbers.

     So, there you have it.  After all that.  A bunch of numbers and some distant memories. 

     Who was better? 

UPDATE/EDIT:  Jason, from the blog “Baseball and the Boogie Down” already compared Mussina and Glavine HereI guess maybe that is why I chose the two, because it seeped into my brain a while back after I read it.  I don’t know.  But for the record, I was not intentionally ripping off anyone’s ideas.  I simply forgot that Jason had explored this already.  However, I do explore it in a different manner, so enjoy the slightly different perspectives.