It’s time the egregious slight involving former New York Yankees‘ pitcher Mike Mussina and the Hall Of Fame is fixed.
Mike Mussina won 270 games in his big league career. That’s more wins than 46 pitchers who currently reside in the Baseball Hall of Fame have.
If he were elected to the HOF today, only 27 pitchers currently in the Hall would have more wins than him, and Mussina would, according to Baseball Reference, have more wins than Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, Pedro Martinez, Bob Feller, who are in the Hall, and we’ll stop there assuming you get the idea.
As far as I know, Mike Mussina carries no baggage, a la Roger Clemens with his entanglements to the use of PED’s, or Curt Schilling and his politically charged “career” since retiring. So, there’s nothing “strange” about his shunning, except that, perhaps, the writers have taken him for granted just as Orioles and Yankees fans may have done when he was pitching for them. And sometimes, that’s what happens when you do your job quietly and efficiently.
Including his post-season outings, Mike Mussina was less than 50 strikeouts away from reaching the 3,000 mark, a list that includes only 16 pitchers who have accomplished the feat. Plus, he is the only pitcher I can recall to lead the American League in starts (34), compiling a record of 20-9 and then quit the game (New York Yankees 2008). Which brings us back to “Moose” Mussina, whose story does not end with those 270 wins. Mussina lost only 153 games, placing his .638 win percentage ahead of such notables as Bob Feller (HOF), Andy Pettitte, Juan Marichal (HOF), Justin Verlander and, believe it or not, Cy Young (HOF).
Voting for induction to the HOF is subjective, as are all awards in baseball. The debate, for instance, on the voting for the 2017 NL MVP award is still raging with many wondering how Paul Goldschmidt, who led his team to the playoffs, could finish behind both Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Votto playing for losing teams (Marlins and Reds).
Plus, last year one writer who somehow will still get a ballot mailed to him for this year’s vote, Murray Chase, turned in a blank ballot with a note saying, “This ballot is intentionally sent in blank.” Of course, this is the same writer who wrote a column the next day titled, “Roger and Barry, this Bud’s for you.” This, while many of us would die to have a vote.
So, the point is made. Mike Mussina, in the fifth of his 10 years of eligibility, is in the middle of a crapshoot and there is no assurance he or anyone else will get a fair hearing in the voting. Although there is a push to take a second look at those eligible to vote, including one intelligent column written by the Detroit News‘ Lynn Henning, the odds are that Mussina, along with the rest of us, will be resting peacefully by then.
The good news, though, is that Mussina is on the upswing and gaining traction in the voting as seen in this chart put together by Mike Axisa, writing for CBS Sports:
2014: 20.3 percent
2015: 24.6 percent
2016: 43.0 percent
2017: 51.8 percent
Over the next six years, Mussina needs to repeat what he’s done since 2015 to reach the required 75 percent needed for induction to the HOF. As a player, Mussina always flew under the radar and he continues to do so now, giving the impression if it happens that’s fine, but if it doesn’t, his life with his family happily goes on.
Still, for someone as competitive as he was on the mound, earning the nickname “Moose” for his effort, Mussina has to be burning inside a bit.
A discussion on the YES Network clarifies the argument:
Most writers take their ballots seriously, and they endeavor to do the right thing. This December, they will have the chance to do so again. Hopefully, they will drill deeper into the career of Mike Mussina. If they do, he should make a considerable leap towards the 75 percent mark securing his election to the Hall as a certainty in 2018.