Mike Mussina should already have been in the hall

He never won a Cy Young, he didn’t win 300 games. Was he an elite pitcher?

Those are usually the arguments against Mike Mussina and yet I fail to understand any of them. Just over two months before his 40th birthday, Mussina finally reached the 20 win plateau. It took him 18 years. While the Yankees or others may have welcomed “Moose” back, the pitcher had already decided he was retiring after 18 seasons. That left him 30 wins short of the 300 milestone.

I was surprised. I guess a younger me always assumed Mussina would reach 300 wins.

For ten years Mussina had been the man in Baltimore. Gold gloves, All-Star games and Cy Young votes. He never got the Cy Young award and naysayers would point to his two first place votes in 1992 or his lone vote in 1994 and say so what?

So what? Mussina was a horse for the Orioles he started 288 games averaged 200 innings a season and 15 wins. While he was not Greg Maddux, he did all the things that people praise Maddux for and he did it in the AL East. After the Orioles insulted him with a contract offer following the 2000 season, Mussina packed up his things and signed with the Yankees.

And that is where I get a little confused. In eight years in New York I still cannot believe that Mussina never won a World Series. Mussina pitched well some seasons and not so well others. At one point in 2007 he even got moved to the bullpen which lasted all of one relief appearance. Despite all the ups and downs, Mussina won 123 games with the Yankees in eight years compiling a 3.88 ERA.

I’ll concede the Yankee time for Mussina was good but not great but surely those Orioles days would home in handy, right?

Not so far for Mussina who despite having a WAR of 83 on Baseball Reference finds himself out of the hall while Tom Glavine of the 81.5 WAR has already been granted access. Glavine has a few things Mussina does not – two Cy Young Awards and a World Series ring. Pedro Martinez sits at 84 WAR for those wondering but if you took away his Cy Young’s and World Series would he be in the hall? He may have a better career ERA but he has 51 fewer wins and 127 less starts. We are talking about 735 1/3 less innings in Martinez’s career.

Mussina’s black ink numbers do not tell the whole story. Some of the aforementioned numbers will be used by naysayers who argue that those are just more proof that Mussina compiled numbers rather than lead the league in anything. Maybe some of those points are true but I find it damn near confusing how a guy who compiled that many numbers can still be sitting outside of the hall. If Mussina was not great then he was really really really good and if he was really really really good, one thing that he was great at was compiling those numbers. Those numbers that matter. Those numbers that lead to huge contracts in baseball and those numbers that define greatness.

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