I’m going to put the numbers of two different pitchers up in a moment.
Both pitchers were pretty similar. They pitched across widely the same era, though they did it in different leagues. They both last pitched in the Majors in 2008, and one ended his career on a very high note and the other on a rather sour one. One is considered a Hall of Fame slam dunk, and the other is considered to have only an outside shot. Without further ado, their 162 game averages:
Pitcher 1 (1987-2008):
15-10, 220 IP, 214 H, 75 BB, 130 K, 3.54 ERA, 118 ERA+, 1.314 WHIP, 8.8 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 5.3 K/9, 1.74 K/BB, 3.95 FIP.
Pitcher 2 (1991-2008):
17-10226 IP, 219 H, 50 BB, 178 K, 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+, 1.192 WHIP, 8.7 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 3.58 K/BB, 3.57 FIP.
Based on those, it would seem that the second pitcher has just as strong, if not a stronger, Hall of Fame case as pitcher one, who is considered a slam dunk. It is worth nothing that pitcher one does have two Cy Young award wins, while pitcher two never won. However, each placed in the top five six times.
Despite having a higher ERA than his counterpart, pitcher two was 23% better than league average, as opposed to pitcher one’s 18% better. Both pitchers did a very good job of keeping the ball in the park, and neither had control issues, though pitcher two walked a batter fewer per nine. He also struck out more batters and had a better FIP and K/BB.
In terms of the HOF Measurements found on the players’ respective B-R pages, they’re also pretty comparable (pitcher one listed first):
Black Ink: 29; 15 (HOF avg = 40)
Gray Ink: 202; 250 (HOF avg = 185)
HOF Monitor: 176, 121 (HOF avg = 100)
HOF Standards: 52, 54 (HOF avg = 50)
Both fall short of the Black Ink test, well surpass the Gray Ink and HOF monitor tests with ease, and squeak by the HOF standards test. Both of them have five HOFers in their similar pitchers category.
Despite the fact that both of these guys stack up very evenly, if I walked down the street, asking fans–using the pitchers’ real names–who was Hall of Famer, I’d say most of them would say yes to pitcher one and no to pitcher two.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, pitcher one is former Brave and Met Tom Glavine. Pitcher two is former Oriole and Yankee Mike Mussina. Because of his 300 wins, Glavine will likely be a first ballot, slam dunk Hall of Famer, while Mike Mussina will need a lot of help and/or support to eventually gain entrance into Cooperstown.
In my opinion, either both of them should get in or neither should get in. I’m by no means saying Tom Glavine was a bad pitcher–he wasn’t–but he is a tad overrated as his peripherals are nothing sparkling and he had the benefit of playing for incredibly good Braves teams that allowed him to have high win totals. Unlike Mussina, he never had to regularly pitch against a designated hitter, nor did he have to pitch most of his games in the high-powered American League East Division.
Stacked up side by side, Mussina beats Glavine in winning percentage, WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, K/BB, FIP, and ERA+ (an aside on the ERA+, Glavine had five full seasons–150+ IP–in which he posted an ERA+ below 100, Mussina had three, which came at the end of his career).
Glavine has the advantage of having pitched for longer than Mussina. Because he had more decisions, he was able to rack up more wins than Mike was. Glavine also wins in the raw ERA match up. By winning those two categories–the two that most HOF voters use most–it would seem that Mussina has no chance against Glavine. The former has the magic number of 300 wins and, justified or not, that will punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame in 2013 when he is eligible.
There is a ray of hope for Mussina. While it’s moving slowly, the BBWAA is getting a little younger and a little more analytical. Perhaps with the inclusion of “new blood,” guys like Rob Neyer and Keith Law, Mussina will get a closer look and might end up with a better chance at election than I think. When put into context, his career was very impressive. A 123 ERA+ and a 3.57 FIP accumulated in the hard hitting A.L. East is no small feat. It will be disappointing indeed if HOF voters skip over Mike Mussina because he never won a Cy Young award and didn’t hang on long enough to get 300 wins. What Mussina should be remembered for is being an incredibly solid pitcher for a long time who ended his career on a high note.