As my friend Trevor has pointed out numerous times to me, he doesn’t think Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer. Because he’s angry over some of his earlier comments disappearing and he’s complained that the site doesn’t allow for differing opinions, here are, as best as I can glean, are his two basic arguments against Mussina being in the Hall of Fame (If i’m missing anything Trevor, let me know or post it in a comment)

1. Some statistics that Mussina has accumulated over the years are meaningless, specifically his win total, since wins by starting pitchers are overrated.

Essentially rebuffing Mussina’s strongest point for inclusion, Trevor has a belief that win totals are overrated. And he’s not alone in that. Keith Law, the excellent ESPN.com writer, recently called it the most overrated stat in baseball. And to be honest, he and Trevor are right to a degree…the 90’s especially have been littered with players who had 18, 19 and 20 win seasons with ERA’s north of 4.00 or in some cases, approaching five. Win-loss totals can be misleading, which is why you always have to look at the circumstances. For example, last season, Mussina was fortunate to go 11-10, as he pitched terribly, and benefited from strong run support and a good bullpen. So chalk one up for Trevor and Mr. Law there.

My response to the wins argument in general is two-fold:

A. I will stop harping on Mussina’s career won-loss record the day people stop saying that him not having a 20-win season is a reason for him to be left out of the Hall. You can’t have it both ways. Either the wins matter, or they don’t. But you can’t say that they matter when Mussina comes up short in individual seasons and dismiss them when he achieves a high-water mark for his career.

B. We’ve been electing pitchers based on win totals for nearly a century now. Like it or not, it’s a criteria voters use, so we can’t just pretend that it’s not going to matter now.

The second argument brings up Trevor’s second, larger point:

2. The Hall of Fame should be reserved for the absolute greats of the game. It’s been diluted over the years by shady inclusions, and guys who were merely “very good” as opposed to “legendary”. Mike Mussina is very good, not great, and as such, should not be in the Hall. Continuing to allow very good players in the Hall simply dilutes the quality further, which means that saying Mussina is better than players already in the Hall doesn’t pass for an argument because the players he is better than don’t deserve to be in either.

To this point, I actually agree with Trevor. The Hall of Fame should be reserved for the greatest players of the game. I’ve always thought Bill Simmons’ (also of ESPN fame) idea of having no more than 200 Hall of Famers at any time was brilliant. Mike Mussina is, in my opinion, behind Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in terms of Hall worthiness. Seventh-best. Does that make him the “best of the best”? Not at all. In fact, it pretty much says “You don’t belong in the Hall, Mike.” I’ll admit that.

Here’s the problem: Let’s say Mike Mussina is better than, say, Pitcher A, who for argument’s sake, represents the “worst” pitcher in the Hall of Fame. Suppose voters essentially say to Mussina, “Well, yes, you’re better than Pitcher A is, but he probably shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, so you can’t use that as an argument, because we’ve realized our mistake and now we’re keeping higher standards, which you don’t meet so you’re out.” The problem is, despite admitting Mussina is a superior pitcher, he’s not actually in the Hall while the supposed “inferior” pitcher still is! Sure, we may “know” that the other guy isn’t deserving, but his plaque is still hanging on the wall so what’s the point? I’m all for re-establishing Hall rules and allowing only the best of the best in the Hall of Fame, even if it leaves out Mussina. But if we’re going to do this, we better get the crowbars and rip some other plaques down (I’m looking at you Phil Rizzuto, Jesse Haines and Don Drysdale, to name others). And while we’re at it, we’re taking down Ty Cobb’s because well, he was a racist prick.

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23 thoughts on “Trevor doesn’t think Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer…here’s why

  1. First, it is probably worth noting that Pat and I have had an ongoing discussion on the HOF for years, and Moose more recently but also for some time. Hopefully the discussion makes sense to others, though it probably does not.
    First, it is universaly accepted that wins are the most useless stat in baseball when determining a pitchers value. It takes into consideration things that a pitcher has no control over. Just because we used this stat to elect players from the early 1990’s doesnt mean we need to keep an excesively flawed system. we can accept the mistakes and decide to do better now that we have a collective better understanding of the game. It is worth noting that I have never held the fact that moose has never won 20 against him. I also have not held the fact that he has not won a cy young against him. After all, the cy young is based on writers interpretations (and there own definition of the award) and not actualy value. Since it is largely (and wrongly) based on wins you have to conclude that the cy young is also irrelevant.

    Also, I want to clarify my position on the second point, which is that I think that the hall is for the greatest of the great, not the really good. Major league baseball offers very few restrictions on who a writer can vote for. One rule is that a player must have played 10 years to qualify – so thats the rule. I look for who was a hall of famer over that period of time. Pitching 25 years and compiling stats does not get you there. For me, the litmus test is this: Over an extended period of time were you one of the greatest players at your position? Pedro Martinez will not compile huge stats. Rafael Palmero did, but pedro was one of the greatest. being mediocre for 8 seasons after 8 years of greatness does not make you more qualified than someone who was great for 8 and mediocre for 2… but it is the extra 6 years where players reach “career milestones.” I think we are all wrong to be overly concerned with the totals and not how we got there. We cannot value the extra mediocre years more than the years of greatness.

    It is worth noting that I am a yankee fan. I am a fan of Mussina. When he was a free agent the same time as Mike Hampton, Manny ramirez and A-rod, I was rooting for the yankees to sign mussina… I root for him to do well. But I want to apply my beliefs fairly to everyone.

    If you beleive mosse is a hall of famer great for you – but it has to be based in reality and your definition of HOFer must be applied fairly to everyone. It cannot be based on wins or games over .500. There needs to be a genuine justification for it.

    So if you think that he is a hallf of famer make a legitimate argument for it rather than just dispelling reasons he is not in. Especially when the reasons you discuss are based on 20 win seasons, cy youngs and other assorted irrelevant justifications.

  2. To respond to Trevor’s points…

    Wins are now, and always have been, an overrated statistic. However, as Trevor himself stated “your definition of HOFer must be applied fairly to everyone.” Therefore, if wins are used as a criteria in the early 1990’s to induct players, but we decide that in the late 2000’s that we aren’t going to use wins, you’re not applying the same standards. Now, this isn’t to say the “standard” can’t change–for example, 500 home runs does not carry the same fame now as it did 40 years ago…neither does 3,000 strikouts. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t look at a player’s home run total or strikeout total. Just that we view the numbers with varying grains of salt.

    The larger question is this: What is a Hall of Famer? Can we define it? My definition varies from Trevor’s, which will vary for every writer on the ballot. The difficulty we have is this: Since no set critera (other than 10 years of service) exist for the Hall of Fame, there’s no real consistent way to judge a player’s worthiness. The Hall of Fame is an institution that defines itself by the very players it includes or excludes, and as such, will change over time.

    For example, Willie Mays is a great player. Manny Ramirez is also a great player. Both of them will be in the Hall of Fame. But how can we measure Mays against Ramierez? We’d all agree that Mays is a better player, but if Ramirez is in, that means that Mays becomes, essentially, meaningless when it comes to debating Hall worthiness because you don’t have to be as good as Mays to be in the Hall of Fame. But the problem is, how good do you have to be? If you want to say “One of the greatest at your position during your period of time,” that’s fine, but what does that mean? Everyone has a different standard of what “greatness” is. You may look at a diving catch and say “That was a great catch”. Someone else may say, “It was a really good catch, bit not great.” same catch, but two different interpretations. For some, being “one of” the greatest means, one of the best two or three. For others, it may mean being one of the best five or six. Jayson Stark of ESPN wrote when discussing Mussina’s HOF chances, in response to a assertion that Mussina was never considered one of the best pitchers of his day. “There’s something to be said for being very good for a very long time.” Some people may disagree with that. But even if you agree with it, the same problem arises. How do you define “very good”? How do you define “very long”?

    This was the debate centered on Ryne Sandberg. The Pro-Sandberg people said essentially “He was the best second basemen in the National League in the 80’s.” The anti-Sandberg people said “That’s because there really weren’t any other good second basemen in the NL in the 80’s” Was Sandberg the best because he was truly a “great” player? Or was he the best because everyone else was mediocre and he was just really good? Is being the best 2nd basemen in an era where there weren’t a lot of good 2nd baseman as “great”as the 5th best shortstop in a league where there are a lot of good shortstops? Is being the 7th best starting pitcher in the league with 32 teams the same as being the 3rd best pitcher in a league with 14?

  3. But as I’ve responded to Trevor many times…his test of being “One of the greatest” is too vauge and ambigious to have any real meaning. How to we define a “great” baseball player? What Trevor’s definition of greatness is will differ from mine, which will differ from yours. Every writer on the planet will have a different definition of a “great” player and how to arrive at that conclusion. So how can that be a fair test when no-one knows the rules because there ARE no rules? This is why there are 20 columns written every year on the All-Star snubs and why, with the exception of one or two guys, every list is different. Because no-one has any clue what an “All-Star” player means. (This is also why the All-Star game should never have been used to determine home field advantage)

    As far as the “being one of the…” part, that has it’s own problems. If I define “one of the greatest” as the Top 10 pitchers in a generation, Mike Mussina, who I’ve ranked 7th, is in. If you think it includes only the Top 5, he’s out. But what if someone else says “I also think it should be top five, but I think Mike Mussina is the fifth best pitcher, so he’s in”? What if a third guy says, “No, it’s Top 10 but it doesn’t matter because Mussina is 11th?” Everyone has a different opinion on how great he is. And everyone has a different opinion of HOW great he has to be.

    Look at Ryne Sandberg, who is in the Hall of Fame. Lots of people said, “He’s in because during the 80’s, he was the best second basemen in the National League.” (They were right, by the way). Other people said “Well, yeah but that’s because in the 80’s, almost all the rest of the second baseman in the National League were mediocre to bad. You didn’t have to be that good to be the best.” (They, incidentaly, were also right) So for a guy like Sandberg, was he the greatest because he was truly “great?” or because everyone else was just bad? (Note: If you read the first sentence, you know the answer to that question.)

    This is why people are so mad that Lou Whitaker is not in the Hall of Fame. Bill James rates him as the 2nd most similar player to Sandberg, and they have similar statistics, but Whitaker has never sniffed the Hall

  4. Hmm, I feel a good discussion shaping up here. Seldom is there a distinction made between an argument for electability (or likelihood that a candidate will be elected), and an argument for “hall worthiness.” Most arguments are waged in the name of worthiness, but they actually deal with electability. Like most who read this blog, I would like to see Mussina elected, but not at the expense of cheapening the HOF. Perhaps we’ll do well to lay a solid foundation of hall worthiness in general, then evaluate Mussina and others specifically.

    Everyone agrees that the Hall is for the greatest of the great, not merely the good. We realize that statistics are a necessary evil: they are incurably misleading but also our only objective means of evaluation. I agree with the spirit of Trevor’s position but it’s totally impractical. “Greatest of the great” is purely subjective. The reasons we don’t debate the worthiness of Walter Johnson is that his numbers are absolutely staggering. Sure, he was the greatest of his era, but again we measure by the numbers and that entails drawing a line somewhere. We’re all interested in finding truer evaluators than the wins statistic, but we mustn’t throw those totals out just yet. . . .

  5. As a statistic, the win is a misnomer: the pitcher cannot win the game, he merely gives his offense a chance to win. It’s simply untrue that the wins being “the most useless stat” or “the most overrated stat” is “universally accepted.” (ESPN writer Caple recently wrote a nice piece in which he made a case for the save being the most overrated.) Patrick, thanks for drawing attention to the double standard of celebrating the 20-win season but denigrating the career total. However, I couldn’t disagree more with point “1.B” that wins should matter because they’ve always mattered in the past. (You touch on that again in the last paragraph.) Flawed as it is, the win is still one of the best evaluators (over time) of a pitcher’s greatness. And that loosely translates into worthiness.

    In order to “win,” a pitcher depends on run support, defensive support, team leadership, and countless other immeasurable details. What is the measure of greatness? Is it “winning” games? Not “losing”? Not allowing runs? Baserunners? How about the pitcher who eats massive amounts of innings? Interesting as they may be, many of the newfangled sabermetric stats make no attempt to measure past greatness, but attempt to predict how a player will perform in the future. Those predictive stats are of no value to a discussion of hall worthiness. While the wins and losses actually belong to the team, the strength of these stats is that great pitchers adapt and do whatever is necessary to achieve the win. Some may penalize a player based on the quality of his teammates or any other hard-to-quantify factor, but the great pitchers know how to adapt for their strengths and weaknesses. A career must be evaluated on results (objectively), rather than on talent—the great players are not the ones who shoulda/woulda/coulda in a vacuum.

    The wins and losses (within the context of the era) are the closest thing we have to a pitcher’s bottom line. It is, and deserves to be, the most prestigious pitching stat. However, we may need to reconsider how those wins and losses are awarded, but I haven’t given that much thought yet. I happen to be a fan of the “quality start” (awarded to a pitcher for a GS with 6 IP and 3ER or fewer), and the accompanying “cheap win” and “tough loss.” I might like to see additional stats created that account for GS with 7IP/2ER or 8IP/1ER, but that stuff must be kept in context of the yr since it’s a worthless comparison to the deadball era. Trevor makes a good point that we must not be too obsessed with career totals instead of “how [the player] got there.” This is a significant way that wins can be a bit misleading. As an admittedly biased fan, my gut feeling is that Mussina is somewhat devalued by the seasonal raw stats. I’d like to see some of those QS numbers for Maddux, Glavine, Pedro, and Johnson but as far as I know, they don’t exist in entirety anywhere online yet.

    Trevor, the idealist in me wants to agree with much of what you say, but it’s impractical in reality. You discredit the stats (which is easy to do, btw) and then argue that our opinions must be “based in reality” (which can only be measured statistically). You seem to misuse the word “reality” because you are in fact speaking ideally—the complete opposite of reality.

    And just as a side note, although I believe many HOFers are undeserving, and the concept of having a fixed number of HOFers is intriguing, I’m opposed to removing anyone. I like that the candidates are evaluated by those who watched actually witnessed their play. This is a whole other issue, but I’m convinced that in a few special cases, worthiness can be determined not by numbers alone. It is up to us to evaluate our own contemporaries in the fairest way we can. . . . But if we’re gonna excommunicate a few, I got dibs on tearing down Rizzuto!

  6. Wow Joy, that maybe the most intelligent comment I’ve ever seen left on a blog.

    Thank for sharing your thoughts and reasoning. We every much appreciate it here.

  7. Joy-

    1. A win is overrated simply because you do not have to pitch well to get it. This is why Mussina had 11 wins last year and 11 wins in 2000 despite the fact that he was a very good pitcher in 2000 and awful last season

    2. Quality starts need to be re-evaluated. Six innings and three runs translates to a 4.50 ERA, and doesn’t measure anything else that goes into quality (Strikes/Ball ratio, baserunners, walks, etc.)

    3. I disagree with you on the value of Sabermetric stats. What many of them attempt to do is isolate how well a player is playing independent of other factors–things like DIPS will measure a pitcher’s ERA independant of the defense, and ERAC will measure a pitcher’s ERA based on his walks and hits allowed. The problem with Sabermetric stats as I see it is they attempt to put every player on the same field at the same time, and, while that may make a comparison FAIRER you simply can’t do that. A baseball game is played on a field, not a computer. Some of us get to play on good teams, with good defenses, in good parks, with good closers. Some of us play for the Royals. Them’s the breaks, as they say.

    4. You’re right that statistics become a way for us to measure things in reality, especially because no-one can watch everyone play. I think Trevor’s bigger point is that the statistics we use don’t always accurately represent the reality of what happened.

  8. 1. I think I’ve acknowledged the weakness of the W/L record. However, I said it’s a better evaluator “over time,” because (like all statistics) it tends to even out. Mussina’s 11 win seasons in ‘00 and ’07 are an excellent case in point. Also, I’m more attracted to the [i]idea[/i] of W/L rather than the official stats we use today—ie, we may need to adjust how a pitcher earns a W.

    2. Likewise, the [i]idea[/i] of QS is very complementary to the W/L record. Of course I’m not advocating that we elect pitchers who are merely “quality.”

    3. We seem to have a similar understanding of these stats but we disagree on the application. The problem is that a GM and a HOF voter use different sets of stats because they are looking from different vantage points. A GM deciding which pitcher to acquire would be very interested in neutralized stats or highly customized stats. Essentially, the past is of no value to the GM; he is attempting to determine the likelihood of future success within a certain environment next yr or the next five yrs. In contrast, a HOF voter should care much more about how often the player did his job and did it well. Did the pitcher give his team a strong chance to win? BBs and Ks probably have some secondary value; baserunners are of even less value; strike/ball ratio is a simply absurd measure of hall worthiness.

    ERAC is a great hypothetical stat, but it’s not a real result. The gap between ERA and ERAC narrows over time, and practically speaking, I haven’t seen a single case where my estimation of worthiness hinges on ERAC vs ERA. In reconsidering our use of numbers, we need to avoid a double standard of championing “the reality of what happened,” yet attempting to make our case using hypothetical measurements which are blatant alterations of reality. For that reason, I am convinced the W/L system (or perhaps a redefined W/L system) works best in determining whether a pitcher succeeded in giving his team a chance to win.

    4. Everyone agrees. I’m interested to hear what people think is the fairest set of numbers to use. I’m here because I have strong opinions, but I also love to be persuaded. 🙂

  9. (if it’s not already obvious, that was intended to be a point by point response to Moose’s previous post.) thx for the thoughts everyone!

  10. 1. Wins and losses tend to even out. Except for Bert Blylevyn. The problem is, we often break longer stretches (a career) into shorter stretches (seasons). This is where the 20 win season thing becomes a problem. A pitcher with great run support who got lucky can rip off a 21-6 season and a Cy Young.

    2. You’re wrong that the past is of no value to a GM. We use the past to predict the future. If a pitcher’s spent the last three seasons on the Disabled List, you don’t sign him to a long-term deal. You don’t sign a guy who hits .330 with 20/70 in Colorado and .270 7/30 on the road to a huge deal if you’re anyone but Colorado. A pitcher’s history of getting fly ball outs and is something you’d want to know if you were moving him from San Diego to Philadelphia because a lot of those outs will turn into home runs. A pitcher’s history of getting ground ball outs is something you want to know if he’s going to a team with a poor infield range. If you don’t strike out a lot of hitters, you better play in front of a good defense. If you pitch poorly to right handers and you’re going to a park where right-handers hit well, you’re a bad fit.

    (I’m going to give you a mulligan on that comment because you usually make good ones. But to paraphrase your comment to me in an earlier post “[The] readers deserve better”)

    3. I never said K’s and BB’s or Strike to Ball ratio were measures of a HOF’er. I said that they should be used to measure a Quality Start because a Quality Start only accounts for two factors: Innings pitched and runs allowed. Going six innings is barely above the minimum of what’s needed to earn a win. If Gil Meche and Roy Halladay have the same number of quality starts this season, there’s something missing in the stat.

  11. When the Yankees signed Mussina, they didn’t care that Moose went 11-15 for the Orioles the previous season. That was the Orioles’ problem. However, the Yankees signed him because they saw something that reflected positively on Moose’s ability to help the Yankees in subsequent seasons. So in that sense, a front office wants predictive stats. “Real” stats are merely a historic record and very poor predictors of the future–that’s why sabermetrics exists in the first place. On the other hand, if I’m a HOF voter and I see that a player is making a career of underachieving 11-15 seasons, that’s gonna be a problem for me. Maybe that player was on some lousy teams; when it’s said and done, I don’t really care what shoulda/woulda/coulda happened, that player was not successful and certainly not hall worthy. Does that sound unfair? Well, I agree that if you can’t hit in day games, you shouldn’t sign with the Cubs. Anyway, we’re more interested in the HOF debate–I brought up the GM viewpoint for contrast.

    Of course “there’s something missing in the [QS] stat]! There’s something missing in every stat. That’s why if you look back, I consistently advocate a “set of stats.” QS wasn’t created to stand alone, it’s intended to be a supplement to the W/L record and I think it pairs well. Bill James is fond of saying that baseball statistics are always trying to mislead you. What he means is that we need to examine different angles and different stats. When used together properly, they can shed light if we understand exactly what the numbers are (and are not) suggesting.

    Halladay and Meche are a good example of how stats don’t always suggest what you expect to find. Certainly the QS is a relatively mediocre mark, but somehow Halladay fell short of that on 10 occasions (40% of the time) this yr. A glance at his game log shows that he often goes 8 or 9 IP and gives up just over 3 ER. When paired with his second-in-the-league ERA, that suggests that when Halladay is good, he is very very good, but he has also not been not that good (8 IP/4 ER still equals 4.50 ERA) more often than you think. Is he a better pitcher than Meche? Absolutely. More successful than Meche? Yes, but the gap is narrower. While Halladay is the one I’d pick to start the big game, this shows Meche is a dependable underrated guy and I think even Cashman would welcome him in his rotation.

  12. Of course they didn’t care that he was 11-15 in 2000…because he’d gone 132-61 the previous eight seasons! They knew he was a great pitcher when they signed him, because of his history…of course real stats predict the future…they’re not 100% accurate, because nothing ever is, but if you’re not basing a guys future production on his prior production, what are you basing it on? The Yankees “Saw something that reflected positively?” Yeah, they saw his record, they saw his good ERA, they saw his high strikeout totals and they said, “Wow, this guy’s been an elite pitcher for nine years. We should sign him”. Obviously they’d seen him pitch, but the talent they saw when he pitched was reflected in the stats. Guys don’t average 17-8 over an eight year stretch unless they’re good.

    Regarding this relevance to the Hall of Fame, I agree with you, ultimately, we have to judge guys on what did happen as opposed to what could have happened. But it’s important to take circumstances into account as well.

    Gil Meche is an league average pitcher. Nothing more, nothing less. There are dozens like him scattered throughout the league He’s had one good season (last year) but for his career, he’s 74-66 with a 4.42 ERA, 5 complete games and two shutouts. He’s gone over 200 innings once in his career and 11 wins once. His ERA is leauge average, he rarely works deep into games, and his control is average at best.

    Roy Halladay is 125-64, with a 3.52 ERA, 39 complete games and 11 shutouts. His ERA is a run lower than league average and he defines the word “workhorse”. There’s a reason his Black Ink/Grey Ink score is 24/113 and Meche’s is 2/11

  13. Yeah I really wish they would pry some of plaques down for totally non-deserving HOFers but that’s never gonna happen. Maybe they should have a special section for super dominating 100 greats of all time (that is decided on a rotating basis), and the rest of the HOF. 😛 I really want Moose to collect his 300 wins and 3000 Ks so people stop arguing because it’ll be an open and shut case then, especially with his kickass win pct (even his neutral win pct is .600, which is pretty impressive). Plus it’ll be super fun to watch him do interviews for those milestones. 🙂

  14. If you look at their careers since Mussina made the major, Glavine and Mussina are pretty much identical. Moose’s ERA is a bit more below league ERA than Glavine’s, his WHIP is lower, strikeouts higher, and win total is a tiny bit higher. He also had one of the greatest postseasons ever for a pitcher in 1997 (Bob Gibson type numbers). He probably would have won 20 in 1994 and 1995 if not for the strike, and I think a Cy Young would have probably resulted because of the attention one gets for 20 wins. Glavine is higher profile because he played for a better team that made the postseason year after year, won 20 several times, and played his games on a station nightly beamed to everyone on cable. His overall stats are no better than Mussina’s, maybe not quite as good. He was more dominant, arguably, in a couple of seasons than Mussina ever was (but Mussina lost the chance to get that sort of attention because of the strike). He’s had his share of strange luck, and Angelos running the franchise into the ground wasn’t his fault.

    Mussina also stood to be the winning pitcher in game 7 of the ’01 series, but Rivera blew the save. And we all know about the perfecto he lost with two outs on national TV. Overall, he’s a bit like Eddie Murray, to name another Oriole great who played many years after leaving Baltimore–just incredibly steady, incredibly disciplined, and very, very good.

    I disagree with the notion that only the greatest of the great should get in. I think those guys are the first ballot people. The “pretty great” are the guys who get in on the fourth or fifth or later ballot, like Jim Rice should, and Goose Gossage did. Just my opinion. I think Mussina should get in.

  15. This has been a very interesting discussiong to read. The comments are very well thought out and make a great deal of sense. The problem is that the people who actually vote on who gets into the HOF don’t take into consideration many of the points touched on here. Right or wrong, the first thing the voters consider is career wins. (See: Clemens, Roger – 2001 Cy Young.) All of you highly intelligent and articulate folks could type until your fingers fall off, about all of the valid reasons why Mike Mussina deserves to be in the HOF, but in the end, it comes down to the BBWAA, whose members don’t appear to be inclined to look too deeply beyond just wins and losses. And that’s a real shame.

  16. Mike H. makes a lot of good points. Strictly from a numerical standpoint, Moose has stronger neutral stats than Glavine across the board, what he doesn’t have is a “career year” of any kind that makes voters’ eyes pop. I think there would be considerable debate about what his best season really was, actually.

    There was an article I read a few days ago, wish I could remember the link, where the author espoused the opinion that 300 game winners and pitchers of high win pcts should be more prevalent than ever going forward because of bullpen specialization gives a pitcher a better chance to hold the lead than if he were tired and stayed in, plus they get bailed out of a lot of losses after they leave the game. And modern medical technology allows pitchers to pitch well into their forties to accumulate their stats even though they don’t get as many starts or decisions per year, they’ll be able to stay effective longer late in their careers. In the old days you might have a lot of twenty game winners, but most of them would be washed up by age 35. Now, not so many big winners each season but guys can pitch into their forties and still be very good, above average pitchers.

  17. Trevor, you are way off here. Mussina has had a great career and will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. What exactly makes a pitcher “great” if wins, strikeouts, and finishing in the top-6 in the Cy Young voting in 8 different seasons (9 assuming he finishes in the top-6 for 2008) is not sufficient? Mussina has undoubtedly had a lot of run support since he came over to the Yankees in 2001. However, don’t forget about those horrible Orioles teams for which he pitched very well.

    How can you look at a potential Hall of Fame pitcher without comparing him to the pitchers already enshrined? Only by comparison to those already enshrined can the standard of “greatest” be determined, assuming that the Hall of Fame truly is a destination only for “great” players. In my opinion, Mussina has already had a better career than some pitchers inducted over the past 20 years such as Don Sutton or Phil Neikro and probably many others. I would even argue that he has had a better career and been a far more effective pitcher than Nolan Ryan, a near-unanimous HOF enshrinee, ever was (Ryan, a career .500 pitcher, is probably the most over-rated pitcher in the history of the game and had, at best, a pedestrian career WHIP due to his trademark wildness).

  18. Very interesting commentary, Joy.

    Just to level set, yes, win=misnomer, stats vary by era, comparability between eras is difficult. This aggregation of concepts seemingly strikes down the ideology of having a set number of HOFers at any given time.

    Also, calling out the subjectivity of “greatness” here is certainly applicable. Legendary status builds over time, even long after a career has ended. Another worthy note, is that public appeal was easier in the younger days of the game, due to the lack of omni-present media. Sure, Ty Cobb managed to be labeled despite the constant hovering of video footage, highlights & the like, but he’s very much so an outlier. He truly had to be an amazing level of a prick to not be able avoid labels with such little footage & exposure to fans. Nonetheless, he helped shape the game, and his place in the hall would rarely be questioned.

    I believe that the “human” status that many current ballplayers endure due to the heightened level of coverage takes away from the likelihood of emerging as “legendary”. I don’t think current players should be punished for this heightened level of coverage.

    Therefore, I believe that forcing a cap would ultimately require comparisons from different eras, which is virtually impossible. Comparisons against peers seems to be the only logical method at identifying HOFers. Someone 50 years from now may have a difficult time understanding why Derek Jeter will be inducted, given his less than impressive stats, despite his undeniable leadership and intangible qualities that qualifies him beyond the shadow of a doubt.

    Much like Joy commented, the inductees need to be addressed by those who truly watched the performances. Those inducted often carry with them some form of emotional attachment, which strays outside the standardized method of objective evaluation that statistics measure. Truly, length of tenure can add to this interesting emotional attachment that elevates ballplayers from merely players to icons. Mussina is successful in this realm. His tenure, and general “good guy” nature, has elevated him to a status worthy of recognition beyond statistical accomplishment, which is exactly what the HOF should include into its ever-growing, timeless assessment of the “Greats”.

    Poorly structured, but thought I’d contribute my thoughts anyway. Sorry if it’s difficult to follow…

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