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.