In one of the most loaded Baseball Hall of Fame ballots in years, there are a number of accomplished pitchers trying to make their way into Cooperstown.
250 Wins & 2,500 Strikeouts
Pitchers to Debut in Live Ball Era
Greg Maddux will likely go in on his first ballot. Roger Clemens on-field credentials are unquestionable, but his off-field issues make him a question mark. Tom Glavine, a 300-game winner, is seen by many as a sure-fire Hall of Famer, while Mike Mussina is seen as more of a fringe candidate.
But the latter two have resumes much closer to each other than you may think.
Glavine has the edge of hitting a major milestone, being a 300-game winner, and his pair of Cy Young Awards don’t hurt either. Mussina, on the other hand, finished his career with 270 wins and never won a Cy Young Award.
Let’s break down their candidacies and show you what we mean:
Cy Young Awards
Glavine has a 2-0 edge in Cy Young Awards won, but each finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting six times in his career, while Mussina also had three sixth-place finishes in the voting.
Most Wins Above Replacement
Pitchers to Debut in Divisional Era
If we use WAR for pitchers to decide who should’ve won the award, both led their respective league in this category once in their career.
In 1991, Glavine led the NL on his way to winning the Cy Young. In 2001, Mussina led the AL, but finished fifth in the voting. He went 17-11 for the New York Yankees that season, but the Yankees scored three or fewer runs in all 11 of losses.
As the chart on the right shows, Mussina finished his career with a higher Wins Above Replacement total than Glavine.
A 5-WAR season is considered All-Star caliber. Mussina is one of nine pitchers in the Live Ball Era to have had at least 10 such seasons (his 10 were only one fewer than Maddux). Glavine only had four (though in fairness, he also had a 4.8 and a 4.9 season).
Teams and Ballparks
Although Mussina finished his career with the Yankees, many of his better years were spent with the Baltimore Orioles. Mussina’s win percentage in 10 seasons in Baltimore was .644. All other Orioles pitchers in that time had a .487 win percentage.
Glavine had the advantage of pitching for one of the most successful teams of the 1990s, the Atlanta Braves. In his 17 seasons with the club, Glavine’s win percentage was .624. All other Braves pitchers had a .541 win percentage in that time.
He also had the advantage of pitching in the National League while Mussina toiled in the AL East. Glavine’s career ERA of 3.54 was slightly lower than Mussina’s 3.68. But if you use ERA+, which is adjusted for the pitcher’s league and ballpark, the advantage tips to Mussina.
The two are basically equals when it comes to postseason pitching. Glavine, who had plenty more opportunities, was 14-16 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Mussina was 7-8 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his postseason career.
Each had signature postseason moments. Glavine was awesome in both the 1995 and 1996 World Series', pitching to a 1.65 ERA and pitching eight one-hit innings to clinch a World Series title.
Mussina also had moments of postseason brilliance, striking out 41 and allowing only four runs in 29 innings for the Orioles in 1997 and pitching three scoreless innings of relief to keep Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox close, before the Yankees rallied to tie.
Darren Viola of Baseball Think Factory has been tracking published ballots to get a feel for how the results will go when they are announced on Wednesday.
Despite all the similarities in performance, there is a huge gap in how writers feel. Through Friday night, Glavine had received 97 percent of votes published online. Mussina was way behind at only 33 percent.
Matt Willis, Justin Havens, Jeremy Mills and Mark Simon contributed research to this post.