Next week, we expect to hear the final results of the Hall of Fame voting, and perhaps the announcement of the 2016 inductees. One name I do not expect to hear on the inductee list is Mike Mussina. It’s a shame because he is a guy that deserves induction when you look at his numbers and accomplishments. This is his third time on the ballot, and he received between 20% and 25% of the votes in the last two years. We expect him to get about the same this year. I cannot understand why he does not get more.
Wins seem to be the biggest determinant of awards for starters, including for Cy Youngs and Hall of Fame election. One stat determining that seems overly simplistic, but it is what it is. Still, Mussina earned 270 career wins, which is 20th on the all-time list when looking at the post-dead ball era. Only two pitchers are ahead of him that are not in the Hall or on the ballot – Jim Kaat and Tommy John. Each of them needed at least 25 seasons to do what Mussina did in 18 seasons. He averaged 17 wins per season, which means that although he only recorded 20 wins once in his career – his last, he was always pitching like a potential 20-game winner. He is 18th on the all-time strikeouts list with 2813 for the post-dead ball era, and 16 of the 17 ahead of him are in the Hall. Nine times, he came in the top six in the Cy Young voting. He was a 7-time Gold Glove winner. He was a dominant starter in the years which he pitched.
So why would he not get the votes? Good question. The Hall of Fame vote is a subjective evaluation by members of the Baseball Writers of America Association, and that is always colored by the personal perspectives of each voter as to what they each believe qualifies a Hall of Famer. There are lots of theories as to why they don’t vote for him, but I think most of it is affected by the perception that he is the quintessential “Mr. Almost”. He almost won a World Series, coming within 2 outs of it in 2001. He almost was a 20-game winner twice, once in the shortened 1995 season where he led the league in wins. He came within one strike of a perfect game in Fenway Park on September 2, 2001, before Carl Everett poked a single into left field. Somehow, this makes him look a notch below the rest of the Hall inductees.
Again, I think this is a shame. BBWAA members are journalists who should be able to ascertain baseball accomplishments within context. Every stat I cited is well-known to every BBWAA voter. At least it should be. Some voters believe in certain traditions, like not voting for first-timer’s on the ballot because that has a higher bar. Maybe they think he’ll deserve it after he’s up for the 10th time. I like to believe that if you think he deserves it, you vote yes. If not, you vote no. The fact that there are 3-4 ballots with his name missing for each one that has his name on it is hard to understand. Maybe one of these years, they’ll come to their senses.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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