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The Long Climb to Greatness
2008-08-25 10:30
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Jonah Keri weighs in on Mike Mussina's fine career over at ESPN:

Mussina deserves to be a Hall of Famer, even if he never wins 20 games in a season, or 300 in his career for that matter.

If you insist on using wins as a barometer, you could argue that only six pitchers in major league history have as many wins as Mussina, with a higher winning percentage: Hall of Famers Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander and Jim Palmer, and Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson, two of the 10 best pitchers of all time. If you're into fancier analysis, you could point to the Gray Ink, Hall of Fame Standards and Hall of Fame Monitor tests, all of which show Mussina with more than enough credentials to surpass the average player already enshrined in Cooperstown.

But the argument over Mussina's candidacy based on his (in)ability to win 20 games in a season raises a bigger issue: Baseball's media and fans (mostly the media) butcher the numbers in their attempts to evaluate a player's accomplishments, or his overall worth.

Comments
2008-08-25 10:56:08
1.   ToyCannon
I've got no problem with Mussina getting into the hall of game, but it better be after Bert Blyleven.
2008-08-25 11:15:27
2.   tommyl
0 I think the paragraph that points out that Moose would have won 20 if Armando Benitez hadn't blown the save is pretty compelling. The idea of Moose not making the hall because Benitez is a bad closer is laughable, yet it may come true.
2008-08-25 11:34:51
3.   ChrisS
1 Indeed.

Without doing the heavier research, I think that using wins as a qualifier has made it a lot more difficult to gain entry to the hall as a pitcher, unless the guy gets voted in by his buddies on the veteran's committee, than a position player. There are, by my count, 70 pitchers in the Hall versus 157 position players. The biggest problem for a pitcher, IMO, are the more frequent career-threatening/-ending injuries. The very nature of pitching makes it difficult to pitch in the bigs for 20 years to amass the 300 wins compared to one of the many offensive milestones.

Hell, I'd be amenable to Cone being inducted - he was a damn good pitcher for most of his career, even with losing the parts of several seasons to injury. And he won 20 games, to boot.

2008-08-25 11:43:48
4.   dianagramr
Let's get Mussina in and remove Gaylord Perry.
2008-08-25 12:11:26
5.   rbj
Yes, Blyleven first. And not just because I'm 1/4 Dutch. Besides, wins are not a good metric of evaluating how good a pitcher is. A career WHIP of 1.191, K/BB ratio of 2772 / 775, never having walked more than 69 batters in a season are.
2008-08-25 12:19:00
6.   JL25and3
I think Mussina would have a better shot if he'd had a blazing fastball. Quien es mas macho? Definitely not the knuckle-curve.
2008-08-25 12:48:18
7.   YankeeInMichigan
I was very bummed to see that the Girardi is keeping the rotation intact with the off-day. I was hoping to see Moose in Comerica on Labor Day, but now it's looking like Sidney.
2008-08-25 21:55:03
8.   Schteeve
Moose's fastball was plenty hot when he was in Ballmer.
2008-08-26 13:12:04
9.   Vandelay Industries
3 I agree. Once Koufax went in, that should have been the beginning and the end of any wins qualifier. I know I will be lambasted for this on all sides, but it is nonetheless true. If we let players in the hall that were simply so much better than all other players for a very short period of time, then that list is a lot longer than Sandy Koufax. I believe that if you don't have longevity in your career you don't get in, plain and simple. However the hall has made very few exceptions to this rule. Hell, shouldn't Bo Jackson be in? Mike Mussina's win percentage should alone get him in, while a lousy .500 guy like Blyleven shouldn't even sniff the grass in Oneonta simply because he pitched for a long time. But that isn't how it works. Mussina won't get in unless he gets to 300 wins, while pitchers with fewer wins playing with higher mounds and larger strike zones reside there today. Ethics, Longevity and great competence should be the only standards used. Pashaw to the hall!

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