Why Mussina was the 2001 AL Cy Young Award Winner

The 2001 American League Cy Young was won by the immortal Roger Clemens. The Rocket racketed up a 20 and 3 record and won a record 20 decisions in a row. With impressive credentials like that it’s not surprising voters awarded him his 6th Cy Young Award. However we here at the Official Mike Mussina Hall of Fame Campaign page have discovered irrefutable evidence that Mussina outpitched Clemens decisively in 2001. While no one can doubt the W/L record of Clemens was unbeatable, a closer look at the statistics of both players reveals Mussina’s dominance.

                   Clemens       Mussina

  • ERA      3.51          3.15
  • CG       0                4
  • SHO     0               3
  • IP          220.3        228.7
  • WHIP    1.25           1.06
  • K/9       8.7           8.42
  • BB/K     2.96          5.10
  • QS%      64%           71%
  • RS         6.58         4.53

Quick Reference – RS = Run Support, QS% – Quality start percentage. If you don’t know the rest you shouldn’t even be here.  These are basic baseball stats for crying out loud.

These peripheral stats clearly show that although Clemens W/L record was superior, Mike Mussina allowed fewer runs, worked deeper into games (thus saving the bullpen), permitted fewer baserunners, exhibited greater control, showed more flashes of dominance and did a better job of putting his team in the position to win baseball games.   Unfortunately Mussina’s teammates made his life on the mound a more trying experience scoring him just over four and a half runs per game.  Clemens received just over six and a half per game, tops in the American League for the 2001 season.

Despite this overwhelming evidence backing Mussina’s claim to the award, voters choose the legendary Clemens.  The Official Mike Mussina Hall of Fame Campaign page will not rest until this gross misappropriation of post-season honors is publicly acknowledge and rectified by Major League Baseball.

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24 thoughts on “Why Mussina was the 2001 AL Cy Young Award Winner

  1. Great site, excellent stuff going on here. I’ve long been irked by this atrocious 2001-Cy-snub. Glad to see I’m not the only Moose fan around. I’m digging what you guys are doing. Here’s hoping this is the season he breaks 20.

    Long Live The Moose

  2. The Cy Young Voting for 2001 should have gone
    1. Joe Mays (17-13 for an 85-win team, 3.16 ERA, 234 innings…I don’t think he got a single 1st-place vote)
    2. Mike Mussina (17-11, 3.15, 229)
    3. Roger Clemens (20-3, 3.51, 220)

  3. Mike–

    Mays came too out of nowhere to win it. In fact, he was a god awful pitcher except for that one season. He’d gone 13-28 his previous two years and, if you take out ’01, he was 31-57 for his career. Voters don’t tend to go for those kind of guys

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  5. Moose,

    Your post argues that Mussina was more deserving than Clemens in 2001, and I think Mike is arguing that Mays was perhaps an even more deserving pitcher than either of them. Obviously the voters didn’t go for Joe Mays or Mussina. . . So what are you really saying? Philosophies differ among the voters, but it’s clear that the Cy Young is an award for a specfic season, not a “career achievement type” award. I agree with you that Mussina was robbed in ’01, but I also think your readers deserve a better than response than what you gave.

    joy

  6. You claim that voters overvalued Clemens’ wins, but you’re undervaluing Mussina’s losses. A guy with over 10 losses has no business winning a Cy Young award. I really don’t care about run support either…a pitcher’s job is to pitch good enough to win. If your team scores 2 runs, your job is to give up 1 run. If your team scores 6 runs, your job is to give up 5 or less.

  7. Steve–

    You, like many people, think that wins/losses are what a Cy Young award is about. It’s not. It’s about who pitched better. Not taking in to account run support is just irrational. And your logic is flawed. If you allow five runs, your teammates have to score six runs to win the game. If you don’t allow any, your team only has to score one. Guess which one’s going to be easier for your teammates to do? Guess which game you’re more likely to win?

    In 1998, Rick Helling went 20-7 with a 4.40 ERA (8% better than the AL average)
    In 1996, Kevin Brown went 17-11 with a 1.89 ERA (116% better than the NL Average)

    By your logic, Helling was a better pitcher. More wins, fewer losses. But if I’ve got Brown on my team, I’ve got a better chance to win the game than I do if Helling is on my team. And the voters know this, and agree with me

    Years an NL pitcher won a Cy Young with double digit losses

    1993, 1992, 1991, 1986, 1982, 1977, 1976, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1967

    AL:

    1996, 1993, 1991, 1983, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1970, 1969,

    MLB:

    1959, 1957

    That’s 23 times in the history of the award, including multiple times in which both leagues had pitchers who did it. Your boy Clemens was the lucky winner in 1991. Steve Carlton won it three times with 10 or more losses. Greg Maddux won it twice. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, and it is a statement that is almost universally agreed upon by baseball writers: With a small sample size, (like a season) wins and losses are an incredibly overrated statistic.

  8. Hey Steve, are you kidding me. From what your response says, I have to assume that you think that the hitters set the tone and pace of the game. That, my friend, is simply not the case. It is the pitcher’s job to provide a good enough basis for which the hitters can win. If the pitcher gives up 1 run, the hitters’ job is to score at least 2. If he gives up 4, they have to score 5, and so on. Last time I checked, the pitcher controls the game, not the hitters.

  9. The line about the role of pitchers being to give up less runs than his own team scores was originally said by Curt Schilling…who knows a bit more about it than any of us.

    There is a BIG difference between losing 11 games and losing 3. If the difference was (20-3, 4.51) versus (17-11, 2.15) you’d have a point. But three more wins and eight fewer losses and a differnce of ERA of half a run…you all have no ground to stand on. It’s a no-brainer.

    For example, this year, Lincecum (18-5, 2.62, 265 Ks) should bury Brandon Webb (22-7, 3.30, 183 Ks) in the voting. In fact, Webb should probably finish third, behind Ryan Dempster (17-6, 2.96, 187) and maybe even Santana, although Santana has far too few wins, and lost a lot to his bullpen. In the AL, Mussina should finish no better than fourth, behind Lee, Halladay, and Dice-K.

    In 2001, Clemens, Mulder, Moyer, and Garcia all deserved the award ahead of Mussina. In response to the earlier poster about Joe Mays…he had a good year but doesn’t belong in the discussion. And neither does Mussina.

  10. Thanks Cole…

    I still don’t understand your point…

    The Cy Young should be awarded to the pitcher who PITCHES the best. As I’ve said, show me some statistic that indicates Clemens PITCHED better and wasn’t the most fortunate pitcher.

    Here’s where Schilling’s argument fails…If a pitcher allows 7 runs in the first inning and mangages to go five innings and gets a 9-7 win, it wasn’t like he said “Well, I know that my team is going to score nine and as such, I only need to allow less than that.” The job of a pitcher is to put his team in position to win because of his pitching because he can’t control run support. The pitcher who allows 7 runs has only done that if he’s lucky enough to get 8 runs of support. The pitcher who allows 2 runs only needs to get three. Hence, the second pitcher has done a better job. If he happens to lose while the other pitcher wins, that doesn’t make the other pitcher better.

    There have been dozens of times when pitchers have lost 10+ games in a season and won the Cy Young award. Over a season, there are much better indicators of a pitcher’s actual talent than a W-L record. That’s almost universally agreed upon by baseball analysts and scouts alike. Mussina led Clemens on almost all of them. Which is why, we feel, he is deserving

    Regarding this season, Mussina will finish behind Lee and Halladay, which is what I predicted almost two months ago. Dice-K is going to get some votes as well. Third and Fourth will be close. However, once you get past the top two guys, voting is really irrelevant, because none of those guys will get first place votes anyway

  11. I think that the best pitcher is the one that finds a way to win. I’d say the same thing about quarterbacks. What your statistics don’t take into account are games when the pitcher’s team jumps out to an early lead. A pitcher who has a 4 run lead is going to pitch differently than a pitcher who is behind. This is what that quote means, I think. It’s not talking about getting bailed out, it’s about pitching to the context of the game.

    Yeah, pitchers have won the Cy Young and lost 10 games. But did somebody else in that same season go 18-2? I haven’t checked, but I’d be surprised.

  12. Yeah, but no pitcher goes out there saying, “Well, heck, I’ve got a 4-0 in the third, so who cares if I give up a run or two.” Your job as a pitcher is to prevent runs. Just because your offense scores 10 runs, there’s nothing preventing you from pitching a shutout. The pitcher that pitches with a lead knowing he can give up a few runs and not caring if he does is the pitcher who blows a win for you.

    You’re also failing to take into account the timeframe this occured in. We aren’t in the 60’s. With the death of the complete game, starting pitchers are often turning over leads to dodgy middle relief corps. If Johan Santana gets staked to a 5-0 lead, what would you prefer he hands to the bullpen? A 5-0 lead or a 5-4 lead? As I’ve said, your primary job as a pitcher is to prevent runs. The more you allow, the less chance your team has to hold a lead and win a game. Bottom line

    There’s simply no way you can tell me that a pitcher staked to a 6-0 lead who just ho-hum gives up 4 runs in a 7-4 win pitches as well as they guy who loses 2-1 thanks to say, a pair of unearned runs.

    Also

    1996- Pat Hentgen 20-10, C. Nagy 17-5
    1992- Maddux 20-11, B. Tewksbury, 16-5
    1977- S. Carlton 23-10, J. Candeleria, 20-5
    1976- J Palmer, 22-13, B. Campbell, 17-5
    1972- G Perry, 24-16, C. Hunter, 21-7

    Yeah, none of those guys were 18-2 but there are two seasons where the loss totals are 8 and 9.

  13. Like you said, none of those guys were 18-2. When you only lose twice all year and win that many games, that’s something special. When a guy throws a one-hitter, it’s a huge deal. A two-hitter is a great game, but there is a big difference, even though it’s subtle. I think there is a big difference between losing 2 games and losing 5.

    In 1977 there were five different guys in the AL that won 20 games. Candeleria finished fifth in the voting.
    Bill Campbell did not start a single game in 1976.
    Gaylord Perry in 1972 had an ERA of 1.92, when again there five guys that won 20 games. Hunter finished fourth in the voting.

    I’m not sure what you are referring to when you mention loss totals of 8 and 9.

  14. Oh ok, I understand what you meant, thank you for clarifying. I do think you’re comparing apples and oranges though, and you can’t look at these people in vaccuums like you’re trying to…you have to take the context of the league into account.

  15. Well, but that’s the point…in today’s game, where a starting pitcher is almost never in control of a full 9 inning game and most middle relief coprs are shaky, no lead is ever safe. That’s why a starting pitcher turning a 6-0 lead into 7-5 by the seventh is a bad thing. Clemens in 2001 didn’t pitch deep into games like Mussina did. He allowed more baserunners, he simply wasn’t as good of a pitcher. Some of your points are valid, but your unwillingness to look beneath a loss total, and look at how a person actually pitched is just not going to convince me.

  16. Um, no. If you review my earlier posts, I talked about how Lincecum should win over Webb because his overall numbers, including ERA and strikeouts, are far superior to Webb’s. I am plenty willing to look beneath a loss total. But you still need to take it into account.

  17. Cole–

    As we’ve said, Mussina’s overall numbers are better than Clemens in a significant number of catergories: CG, SHO, ERA, WHIP, IP, Quality Start % and K/BB ratio. The ONLY statistic other than W/L Clemens has an edge in is K/9 innings. We think it’s pretty simple. Mussina allowed fewer runs, fewer baserunners, pitched deeper into games, exhibited better control and kept his team in more games. He pitched better. Clemens got better run support. Them’s the breaks as they say.

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree Cole. We’re not going to convince you he deserved it. You’re–and the voters–aren’t going to convince us Clemens did. It’s been a good debate, but we’re just lobbing the same arguments back and forth

  18. The whole thing is a joke,the sports writers souldn’t vote for the awards the ballplayers should.The sports writers voted against Jim Palmer and voted for sparky Lye because Palmer won it two years in a row.One sports writer said that he voted for Clemens because of his age and voted against the pitcher for oakland because young and win one later,the pitcher for Oakland
    got arm trouble and hasn’t come close since.

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  20. People knock Mussina for finishing second place in the CY Young voting once, but a couple of season he got ripped off. Mussina should have finished higher than 4th in 1994. Mussina had better stats than Jimmy Key and Randy Johnson. The only thing Jimmy Key had on Mussina was one extra win and Randy Johnson had more strikeouts. What were the voters thinking that year? In 1995,
    W-L IP ERA WHIP SO
    1 David Cone KCR 15 108 140 0.77 | 16-5 172 2.94 1.07 132
    2 Jimmy Key NYY 10 96 140 0.69 | 17-4 168 3.27 1.36 97
    3 Randy Johnson SEA 2 24 140 0.17 | 13-6 172 3.19 1.19 204
    4 Mike Mussina BAL 1 23 140 0.16 | 16-5 176 3.06 1.16 99

    1 Randy Johnson SEA 26 136 140 0.97 | 18-2 214 2.48 1.05 294
    2 Jose Mesa CLE 2 54 140 0.39 | 3-0 64 1.13 1.03 58 46
    3 Tim Wakefield BOS 0 29 140 0.21 | 16-8 195 2.95 1.18 119
    4 David Cone TOT 0 18 140 0.13 |+18-8 229 3.57 1.23 191
    5 Mike Mussina BAL 0 14 140 0.10 | 19-9 222 3.29 1.07 158

  21. People knock Mussina for finishing second place in the CY Young voting once, but a couple of season he got ripped off. Mussina should have finished higher than 4th in 1994. Mussina had better stats than Jimmy Key and Randy Johnson. The only thing Jimmy Key had on Mussina was one extra win and Randy Johnson had more strikeouts. What were the voters thinking that year? In 1995, I think Mussina could have finished 2nd or 3rd in the CY Young voting, but the people that finished ahead of him played on playoff teams while Mussina played on Orioles team that finished the season 71-73. In addition, I feel the strikes years hurt Mussina for Cy Young and 20 wins both years.
    W-L IP ERA WHIP SO
    1 David Cone KCR 15 108 140 0.77 | 16-5 172 2.94 1.07 132
    2 Jimmy Key NYY 10 96 140 0.69 | 17-4 168 3.27 1.36 97
    3 Randy Johnson SEA 2 24 140 0.17 | 13-6 172 3.19 1.19 204
    4 Mike Mussina BAL 1 23 140 0.16 | 16-5 176 3.06 1.16 99

    1 Randy Johnson SEA 26 136 140 0.97 | 18-2 214 2.48 1.05 294
    2 Jose Mesa CLE 2 54 140 0.39 | 3-0 64 1.13 1.03 58 46
    3 Tim Wakefield BOS 0 29 140 0.21 | 16-8 195 2.95 1.18 119
    4 David Cone TOT 0 18 140 0.13 |+18-8 229 3.57 1.23 191
    5 Mike Mussina BAL 0 14 140 0.10 | 19-9 222 3.29 1.07 158

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