I know it’s an exercise in futility, but sometimes an idea strikes me and I feel like writing about it. Here are two pitchers. One is a Hall of Famer, the other is currently on the ballot. See if you can tell the difference between them:
Pitcher A: 4413.1 IP, 682 starts, 2607 K/1500 BB. ERA- of 86. ERA of 3.54. BAA of .252. 356 HR allowed. WHIP of 1.31
Pitcher B: 3562.2 IP, 537 starts, 2813 K/785 BB. ERA- of 82. ERA of 3.68. BAA of .252. 376 HR allowed. WHIP of 1.19
Player A pitched on the one of the greatest collections of talent the NL has ever seen, and thus won over 300 games (in 150 more starts). Player B only managed to win 270 games while being on some mediocre teams during the same time frame. And, Player B did all of that in the AL East where some incredibly good hitters parks are located.
Yet Player A made the Hall of Fame on first ballot and Player B is languishing on the ballot as we speak.
I’m not saying that Mike Mussina is a definite Hall of Famer (and I detest arguments that say “This guy’s a Hall of Famer, so this other guy must be one!”), but I do think that we, as a baseball culture, have elevated a guy like Tom Glavine higher than he should be due to his win totals. I ranked him in the low 170’s, and there was still part of my brain that was telling me that was wrong. But, there is no doubt in my mind that Mussina was the better pitcher between the two.
The question essentially becomes, do Glavine’s ~900 more IP outweigh the 200 more K’s and 800 fewer walks that Mussina had (again, in much less time against a much tougher league) with basically the same ERA and better WHIP and without as much of a benefit of a wide strike zone like Glavine (and Maddux to a degree) was claimed to have gotten.
I can easily see Mussina being the next big cause a la Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven. And that’s one I probably would get behind.
The 2017 BBWAA ballots for induction into the Baseball Hall of Famer were announced back on January 18th. The results were interesting. Gaining induction were Tim Raines (on his 10th and final ballot), Jeff Bagwell (on his 7th ballot) and Ivan Rodriguez (on his first ballot). Just barely missing the cut were Trevor Hoffman (on his second try) and Vlad Guerrero (on his first ballot). Both got above 70%, so they will get in within two years time (and probably next year). Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez all took strong steps forward, while Curt Schilling went backwards and other players stalled. There’s a lot of good and bad to look at on this year’s results, so let’s start with the good.
Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 215/226)
In 1947, much as they did to honor Lou Gehrig, the Yankees held a tribute day to honor one of their greats. Thirteen years after he had worn a Yankee uniform, the Bronx Bombers were honoring Babe Ruth one more time before his inevitable end due to throat cancer. Thousands of people packed Yankee Stadium, with millions more listening via radio and speakers lining the streets of New York, as former opponents, managers, teammates and friends saluted a man who reinvented the game of baseball and was truly the game’s greatest player. The sight of this once great man, this giant who always was larger than the game itself as now a frail, suffering man pulled at everyone’s heartstrings. Ruth would give a small speech as his voice was practically gone that, while not on Gehrig’s level in terms of grandness, was still as emotional and impactful as ever as Ruth, one final time, walked off the field as the greatest player who ever lived.
Year Inducted: 1982 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 406/415)
Bobby Thompson is forever known as the player that hit the “Shot Heard Round the World”, a home run to win the 1951 NL Pennant for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers on the last game of the season. Three years later, Thompson found himself on the Milwaukee Braves. In Spring Training of 1954, Thompson broke his leg. While he was sidelined, the Braves decided to give one of their young players a chance in the outfield. Twenty years later, that player stood taller than anyone ever thought possible as he passed Babe Ruth for career home runs.
Year Induction: 1966 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 282/302)
In 1941, baseball saw two of the best in the sport’s history permanently etch their names among the immortals. Beginning in May and lasting until July, Joe DiMaggio set a record for most consecutive games with a hit. Somehow, miraculously, Joltin’ Joe had gotten a hit in 56 straight games. However, as impressive as that was, in Boston, the Red Sox had a player trying to do something that hadn’t been seen since 1930. On the last day of the season, prior to a double header, Ted Williams stood with a .39955. Had he elected to sit out, it would be rounded to an even .400, giving him just the 28th season with such an average. Instead, Williams (who probably had the largest ego of all-time) decided to play both games, went 6/8, and ended with a season average of .406. While that moment was the highlight of Williams’ career, it certainly wasn’t the only reason that he got into the Hall of Fame.
Year Inducted: 1979 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 409/432)
Greatness often leaves in the form of a whimper, rather than with a flourish. In the 1973 World Series, the Mets and A’s were set to duel. In right field for the Mets was a player that was clearly on his last legs, but wanted to go out a champion. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be, as Willie Mays would only have an OPS of .571 in the series and, perhaps most unthinkable, saw a ball roll through his legs in the outfield. That should not have been how the great career of the Say Hey Kid ended, but life sometimes isn’t fair.
Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 222/226)
In 1992, Tom Seaver broke a record that many thought would never be broken. Seaver had set the record for the largest voting percentage ever for Hall of Fame induction. It was a record that was set all the way back in 1936, with the first ever induction class. But, it wasn’t a record that was set by Babe Ruth or Honus Wagner. It was set by the only player that could have challenged Ruth in his own time for being the greatest ever. It was set by the one person that may possibly have more legends surrounding him that Ruth. It was set by Tyrus Raymond Cobb.