Mussina to Retire; Let the HOF Debate Begin

Mike Mussina has decided to call it quits which can only mean that it is time for everyone’s favorite act of futility: An argument over whether or not his career merits a plaque in Cooperstown. ↵

↵FOR: ↵

↵

↵Consistency: From his first full year with the Orioles in ’92 through last season, Moose had one losing season. He won over 15 games and pitched over 200 innings 11 out of his 17 seasons full seasons. He was top six in Cy Young voting nine times spanning the length of his career -- third in voting during his first full season and sixth in voting in his final season. ↵

↵

↵Wins. Moose has 270 career victories. There are only six players with that many wins, or more, who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Four of those six aren’t eligible yet, and are locks for Cooperstown. So really, the only two 270-win pitchers not in the Hall are Bert Blyleven (who many believe will get in someday) and Bobby Mathews, who played baseball in the 1800s. He also racked up 100 more wins than losses for an outstanding win percentage of .638. (Correction: Jim Kaat and Tommy John both have more than 270 and aren't in the Hall. So make that four pitchers with 270 who aren't currently in the Hall, or locks to gain entrance in the coming years.) ↵

↵

↵Strikouts. He came up short of the 3,000 K plateau, but he did strikeout 2,816, good enough for 19th all-time. Nearly every pitcher above him on the all-time K list is, or will be, a Hall of Famer. ↵

↵

↵Gold Gloves. The credibility and importance of the award is suspect, but he won seven of them, for whatever that’s worth. It’s certainly not a negative and he was, without question, a great defensive pitcher. ↵

↵

↵AGAINST: ↵

↵

↵Cy Youngs. As mentioned, he was top six nine times, but he never won a Cy Young award. The closest he ever came was second place in ’99. ↵

↵

↵20-Win Seasons. Wins are a highly overrated stat (you can take that into account for the “wins” sections above as well), but one voters love to look at nonetheless. For better or worse, 20-win seasons seem to be the benchmark for a great season, and Moose only had one of them. And it was his final season, going 20-9 last year. ↵

↵

↵Rings. Another stat that I hate because baseball is such a team sport, but again, one people will look at. Although, granted, Moose was 7-9 in 16 postseason series with a 3.45 ERA and 145 strikeouts to just 33 walks. That’s a 4-to-1, K-to-walk ratio. Perhaps I should’ve included this in the “for” section. ↵

↵

↵ERA. His career ERA of 3.68 would be on the very high end for a Hall of Fame pitcher. As far as my shoddy research can tell, Red Ruffing is the only starting pitcher with a higher ERA than Moose who is in Cooperstown. It's also worth keeping in mind the offensive era that Moose spent his prime pitching in. ↵

↵

↵VERDICT: ↵

↵

↵Despite the fact the O’s fan inside of me will never forgive him for going to the Yankees, I think he’s definitely a Hall of Famer, as you can tell from my weak case against. The numbers are there, the longevity is there and the spans of domination as an ace are there. He may not be a first ballot guy, but at some point, he’ll be in Cooperstown. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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