Thank God for advanced statistics. One of our first articles concerned Mussina’s rightful claim to the 2001 AL Cy Young Award.  The stats now prove it. WAR–or Wins Above Replacement–calculates how many more wins a player was worth compared to the same replacement-level player.

Mussina’s 2001 season produced the highest pitching WAR in the AL by more than 15%.  Mussina finished 5th in the Cy Young voting which went to Roger Clemens.

For Mike Mussina‘s career he ranks 24th all-time in pitching WAR.  He is right behind Pedro Martinez and ahead of current or future hall of famers Don Sutton (26th), Tom Glavine (27th), Bob Feller (31st), Juan Marichal (37th), Jim Palmer (39th) and Whitey Ford (55th).  If this isn’t the best arguement for Mussina’s hall of fame induction I’m not sure what is.

Mussina also produced the 5th highest pitching WAR in a pitcher’s final season and the best since 1968.

But, the thing that most interests me is how Mussina’s WAR reflected his results in Cy Young voting. As we’ve pointed out, the lack of Cy wins/votes has been one of the more common arguments against Mussina.

*Note, for purposes of this piece, we’re only looking at the WAR of pitchers who got Cy Young Votes that season. If a guy was left totally off the ballot, odds are his WAR wasn’t that great.

1992:

Actual finish: 4th

WAR finish: 2nd

Net: Gained 2 spots

Patrick’s notes: Not only did Mussina’s 7.4 WAR put him second on the list, he was over a win and a half better than his next-closest competitor. Actual winner Dennis Eckersley was ranked 6th in WAR.

1994:

Actual finish: 4th

WAR finish: T-2nd

Net: Gained 3.5 spots

Patrick’s notes: Mussina jumps over Jimmy Key and pulls even with Randy Johnson. The voters got this one right, handing the award to David Cone. Fun fact: Every pitcher who got a Cy vote that year played for the Yankees at some point.

1995:

Actual finish: 5th

WAR finish: 3rd

Net: Gained 5.5 spots

Patrick’s notes: Mussina jumps Tim Wakefield and Jose Mesa.

1996:

Actual finish: 5th

WAR finish: 8th

Net: Gained 2.5 spots

Patrick’s notes: Not suprising. Mussina’s ERA was terrible that year and his lofty win total was bolstered by the Orioles offense.

1997:

Actual finish: 6th

WAR finish: 4th

Net: Gained 4.5 spots

Patrick’s notes: Mussina jumps ahead of Brad Radke and Randy Myers. Myers is the third different reliever to go ahead of Mussina. Don’t you people know closers are overrated?

1999:

Actual finish: 2nd

WAR finish: T-5th

Net: Gained 2 spots

Patrick’s notes: Again helped by a gaudy win total, it appears Mussina might not be getting a lot of WAR help at all career-wise

2000:

Actual finish: T-6

WAR finish: 2nd

Net: Gained 5.5 spots

Patrick’s notes: If you want proof that single-season win totals are meaningless, here you go. Despite an 11-15 record, Mussina’s WAR is better than two 20-game winners who finished ahead of him, David Wells and Tim Hudson. Mussina also jumps Andy Pettitte, Clemens, and Todd Jones

2001:

Actual finish: 5th

WAR Finish: 1st

Net gain: 9.5 spots

Patrick’s notes: We have a winner! No seriously guys, we told you all along: Mussina was screwed in 2001. Mussina passes Clemens, Mark Mulder, Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer.

2008:

Actual finish: T-6th

WAR finish: 5th

Net gain: 10 spots

Patrick’s notes: Mussina jumps Rivera and Francisco Rodriguez, the 5th and 6th relievers to go ahead of him.

Final thoughts: Overall, Mussina was ranked 10 spots lower over the course of his career than he should have been based on WAR. But more significant is what those spots did for him. Instead of having zero career wins and one career second-place finish, Mussina should have had one win and three second-place finishes. Many voters are unlikely to note the difference between a 6th place finish and a 4th-place finish, but 5th to first? 6th to 2nd? People will notice that

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