Voting for the Hall of Fame is hard. Take out the steroid stuff and it's still difficult. That's because nobody really knows how we are supposed to be evaluating these resumes. Should a collection of individual awards decide who makes it to Cooperstown? How many championships they won? How long they played for? How good their prime was? Whether or not they reached a magical number for a stat, such as 3,000 hits?
It's a lot to consider but it wasn't always this way. Back in the day we used nice, round numbers to make it simple. 500 home runs? You're in. 300 wins? You're in. You were a pretty good player that won a bunch of rings? You're in. However, we now have advanced stats that tell us a lot more information about players. For example, why should pitchers get penalized for pitching in a predominantly hitters park? The problem now is that we have two ways of thinking and neither is perfect.
This all brings us to Mike Mussina, who has one of the unluckiest candidacies on this year's ballot. Let's start with the case against "Moose". He never won a World Series, never won a Cy Young, didn't win 300 games, and has no real career defining moment that writers look for when casting their vote. Basically he lacks the WOW factor. But now let's ask was any of this really his fault? He pitched on some great Yankee teams but it just so happens he got to New York the year after a three peat and left the year before their next championship. While he never won a Cy Young he finished top six in the voting eight times during a 10 year stretch and had to go up against Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens during those years. If he wins one championship and one Cy Young award would history view him differently?
Mussina finished in the top five in ERA seven times to go along with five all star selections and seven gold gloves. While he didn't reach 300 wins he still compiled a career record of 270-153 with a .638 winning percentage, which would become the sixth best ever among Hall of Fame pitchers. With Mussina we should be focusing on what pitchers can actually control, which is striking batters out and limiting their free passes. For his career Moose compiled a 3.58-1 strikeout to walk ratio that is good for second best all time among pitchers with at least 3,000 innings. This is despite the fact that he pitched in two hitter friendly parks at the height of the steroid era.
During his career Mussina accumulated 82.7 WAR according to baseball-reference, which is good for 24th all time. WAR is not a perfect stat but it's noteworthy that someone like Tom Glavine (74.0 WAR) was elected to the Hall on his first try while Moose received only 43% of votes in 2016, his third year on the ballot. Take away Glavine's two Cy Young awards (subjective) and 300 wins (influenced heavily by the team around him) and it's a different story. Make no mistake Glavine is still a HOF pitcher but by using advanced stats it appears Mussina is actually the superior of the two. Put him on those 1990s Braves teams and he wins 300 games and becomes a first ballot Hall of Famer. Don't let the nice, round numbers fool you. Vote Moose.