Mussina may help fantasy owners with retirement

November, 20, 2008
Congratulations to Mike Mussina for going out on a high note, earning his first 20-win campaign in his final big league season. But oddly enough, the sudden retirement of Salomon Torres (who also went out with a bang) actually has more fantasy impact than the potential Hall of Famer.

Mike MussinaAP Photo/Julie Jacobson, FileMike Mussina may have saved some fantasy owners by retiring after his bounceback 2008 campaign.
While there will be plenty of discussion about Mussina's Cooperstown credentials, many fantasy owners would've been overly cautious in drafting him in 2009, even though he was 19th among all pitchers in the Player Rater last year, bringing back memories of past great fantasy seasons.

Mussina, ignored by most fantasy owners at the start of 2008 despite years of solid numbers, proved he still had something in the tank, as he turned in a stellar 20-9 campaign with a solid 3.37 ERA. However, he gave up more hits (214) than innings pitched (200 1/3), although he walked only 31 batters. Plus, while his K/9 rate rose to 6.74 last year, he was consistently over 7 for most of his career until his awful 2007, which depressed his value. At this point in his career, Mussina's an effective pitcher who doesn't strike out a lot of hitters and gets his wins pitching for a good team. He's a nice guy to have, but not as your No. 1 or 2 pitcher.

Sure, there's plenty of room in a fantasy rotation for guys like Mussina, but would it be worth breaking the bank for him to make him your ace when he's definitely not that anymore? He might've been a top-20 pitcher in 2008, but remember that he wasn't taken in enough ESPN standard leagues to merit an average draft position at the start of the year (meanwhile, teammate Phil Hughes had an ADP of 182.2 … so much for that). Also note some of the pitchers who finished behind Mussina on this year's Player Rater: Jake Peavy, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, John Lackey. Would you have taken Mussina ahead of any of them in 2009?

In fact, it could be argued that Mussina might not have been drafted much higher than Torres, who had plenty of value as the Brewers' closer before he called it a career earlier this month. While many of us preach not to pay for saves, the fact that Torres had a relatively stable job at a very unstable position would've made him reasonably attractive to fantasy owners in 2009 drafts. Torres would've had more risk, but there would've been more reward. Meanwhile, Mussina pretty much hit his ceiling in 2008 and there wouldn't be much more room for improvement.

So fantasy owners can thank Mussina both for years of great statistics (17 straight seasons with at least 11 wins, four 200-strikeout campaigns, 3.68 career ERA) and for leaving on a high note because it saves them the trouble of overbidding for what would've been the inevitable downturn in his numbers.

James Quintong is an editor for Fantasy.



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