The 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was recently made public, and if you saw it, you particularly noticed one player: Paul Lo Duca.
Ok, so I’m just kidding; nobody is going to notice a catcher who had a few decent years and finished his career with barely over 1,000 hits. If you did see that ballot, though, then you should have noticed the name of one Michael Cole Mussina. I would like—nay, love—to go on the record and say Moose should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
(If you’re a diehard Orioles fan, you’re probably good with my opening paragraph and will agree that he should be in the HOF. If not, however, please keep reading. Actually, even if you take me at my word, you might want to keep reading.)
Mike Mussina finished his brilliant 18-year career with a record of 270-153 to go along with his ERA of 3.68 and WHIP of 1.192. He once led the league in wins with 19 back in 1995 and reached 20 wins in 2008, his last season in the majors. His four shutouts in 1995 were a league best that year. Perhaps his best season came in 1991, when he went 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA.
Moose was named to five All Star teams and won seven Gold Gloves. During the 1999 season Moose finished second in the AL Cy Young award voting (behind Pedro Martinez) after going 18-7 with a 3.50 ERA. During his 18-year career, Moose spent 10 with the Orioles and his final eight with the New York Yankees.
Mussina was also consistent in the playoffs, although his record might not show it. Moose went 7-8 with a 3.42 ERA in 16 playoff series, with 1997 being his best showing. That season, Mussina went 2-0 against the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS, as he gave up only three earned runs in 14 innings pitched (1.93 ERA).
Then, in the ALCS where Baltimore lost to Cleveland, Mussina did not get a decision in either of his starts despite allowing only one run in 15 innings as the O’s fell in six games.
His numbers are pretty darn awesome, especially when you factor in the era in which he played. Other first-time names on this ballot include Greg Maddux (should be a no-brainer) and Tom Glavine. (Glavine will most likely get in, but I would put Moose ahead of him. Three hundred wins are overrated!) Those guys will most likely get in on the first ballot, but there is one name on the ballot that will be on for his final year and he already has 67.7% of the necessary 75% votes: Jack Morris.
Morris will certainly get some sympathy votes because it is his last year on the ballot, but if you look at his numbers, if Mussina finishes anything below 67.7%, that would be a crime. Personally, I feel Morris is an ‘on-the-fence’ Hall of Famer.
Morris had a career record of 254-186 with a 3.90 ERA. Ok, so that’s not a good start for ol’ Jack, especially when you see his WHIP was 1.296—also worse than Moose’s.
Morris was also named to five All Star squads and led the league in wins twice, once in 1981 with 14 wins, and in 1992 with 21. Ok, so he has Moose beat there, but during his 18-year career, not once did he keep his ERA under 3. Moose only did that for one full season, but when you consider the time they played, Moose played in a much more hitter-friendly period.
The biggest selling point for Morris is his playoffs performance. I will give him credit—he was amazing to watch in game seven of the 1991 World Series as he out-dueled John Smoltz to throw a complete game shutout, but overall, Jack Morris was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in seven playoff series. That doesn’t impress me much. I feel that many of his supporters point to his playoff “dominance,” but in reality, his career is based on those three games he started in the 1991 World Series, with game seven being his main selling point.
Other names on the list which will get serious HOF consideration are Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, and Jeff Kent, but voters better not leave Mike Mussina off their ballot.
by Andy Mindzak