Mussina deserves better

I don’t claim to be a Hall of Fame expert, and the voting results have never left me very emotional. But I am left befuddled by how Mike Mussina has been treated by Hall of Fame voters in his first two years on the ballot. Mussina mustered just 24.6 percent support this year, 20.3 percent last year.

Before we get into the numbers, here’s what sticks out to me about Mike Mussina: consistency. Mussina spent his entire career in the powerhouse American League East. The two ballparks he called home were two of the toughest to pitch in during his tenure, Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium.

In his 17 full seasons as a starter, Mussina never won fewer than 11 games. He won 18 three times, 19 twice and 20 once; those 20 victories came in his very last season, at age 39. His ERA is a stickler for some, as his 3.68 would be the third worst among Hall of Fame pitchers. But context must be considered. His 123 ERA+ is better than current Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan (112), Tom Glavine (118) and Bert Blyleven (118), and just short of John Smoltz’s 125.

There is no major hardware for Mike Mussina but he was a top-6 Cy Young Award finisher nine times. His postseason numbers are not spectacular, but they’re certainly very good. In 23 career postseason games he posted a 7-8 record with a 3.42 ERA.  

When compared to the average Hall of Fame pitcher and first-ballot Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, Mussina deserves in.

Mussina vs. Average Hall of Fame pitcher (according to Baseball Reference)

  GS IP W ERA bWAR
Average Hall of Famer 460 3816 254 2.97 70.0
Mike Mussina 536 3562 270 3.68 82.7

Mike Mussina vs. Tom Glavine

  GS W ERA Lg K/9 BB/9 ERA+ Yrs CG
Mike Mussina 536 270 3.68 AL 7.1 2.0 123 18 57
Tom Glavine 682 305 3.54 NL 5.3 3.1 118 22 56

Tom Glavine is a no-doubt, first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher. I don’t argue that. But when you look at Glavine vs. Mussina, Mike Mussina getting less than 25 percent of the vote makes absolutely no sense.