Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling are generally considered more borderline Hall of Fame players. In his first year on the ballot, Curt Schilling secured just 38.8% of the vote for the Hall of Fame while Mike Mussina will be on the ballot for the first time in 2014.
Both of these players had great careers, but both failed to ever win a Cy Young award. I wanted to take a look at their credentials more closely to see if they really are Hall of Fame worthy. The following are Mussina and Schilling’s career numbers.
Mike Mussina: 270-153 W-L, 3.68 ERA, 2813 K, 123 ERA+, 78.1 WAR
Curt Schilling: 216-146 W-L record, 3.46 ERA, 3116 K, 127 ERA+, 76.9 WAR
Both are quite impressive careers. Mussina appeared in 5 All Star games while Schilling appeared in 6. Mussina was top 5 in Cy Young voting six times (runner up once) while Schilling placed in the top 5 in Cy Young voting four times (runner up three times).
Lets take a look at the following pitchers that are widely considered shoe-in Hall of Famers and played a significant portion of their careers at the same time as Mussina and Schilling.
Roger Clemens: 354-184 W-L, 3.12 ERA, 4672 K, 143 ERA+, 133.1 WAR
Tom Glavine: 305-203 W-L, 3.54 ERA, 2607 K, 118 ERA+, 69.3 WAR
Randy Johnson: 303-166 W-L, 3.29 ERA, 4875 K, 135 ERA+, 98.6 WAR
Greg Maddux: 355-227 W-L, 3.16 ERA, 3371 K, 132 ERA+, 99.4 WAR
Pedro Martinez: 219-100 W-L, 2.93 ERA, 3154 K, 154 ERA+, 82.6 WAR
Suddenly, it becomes clear why Mussina and Schilling are thought to be more borderline candidates to the Hall of Fame. During their career they had to be compared to this group of legends and probably never got the attention they deserved. Amongst the above five players we have four members of the 300 win club, four members of the 3000 strike out club, two (of only four) members of the 4000 strike out club, and a total of 21 Cy Youngs amongst them. Tom Glavine is the “worst” Cy Young winner in this group with only two Cy Young awards, everyone else won atleast three.
Here are the number of times the above players placed in top 5 of Cy Young voting (including the times they won) and their number of All Star appearances.
Roger Clemens: 10 Top-5 Cy, 11 All Star
Tom Glavine: 6 Top-5 Cy, 10 All Star
Randy Johnson: 9 Top-5 Cy, 10 All Star
Greg Maddux: 9 Top-5 Cy, 8 All Star
Pedro Martinez: 7 Top-5 Cy, 8 All Star
Looking at this list, Mussina and Schilling are a notch less impressive against this group as a whole. Mussina and Schillings ERA+ and WAR are better than Tom Glavine’s, but they lack the number of All Star appearances, Cy Young awards, and special marks such as Glavine’s 300 career win mark.
It may have simply been unlucky for Mussina and Schilling to play against such a group of pitchers during their time. Lets instead take a look at the pitchers already in the Hall of Fame and how they compare to Mussina and Schilling. The following are the starting pitchers that were elected into the Hall of Fame since 1980.
Bert Blyleven: 287-250 W-L, 3.31 ERA, 3701 K, 118 ERA+, 90.7 WAR
Steve Carlton: 329-244 W-L, 3.22 ERA, 4136 K, 115 ERA+, 78.6 WAR
Don Drysdale: 209-166 W-L, 2.95 ERA, 2486 K, 121 ERA+, 57.4 WAR
Bob Gibson: 251-174 W-L, 2.91 ERA, 3117 K, 127 ERA+, 77.5 WAR
Catfish Hunter: 224-166 W-L, 3.26 ERA, 2012 K, 104 ERA+, 32.1 WAR
Fergie Jenkins: 284-225 W-L, 3.34 ERA, 3192 K, 115 ERA+, 77.4 WAR
Juan Marichal: 243-142 W-L, 2.89 ERA, 2303 K, 123 ERA+, 58.2 WAR
Phil Niekro: 318-274 W-L, 3.35 ERA, 3342 K, 115 ERA+, 91.7 WAR
Jim Palmer: 268-152 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 2212 K, 125 ERA+, 63.2 WAR
Gaylord Perry: 314-265 W-L, 3.11 ERA, 3534 K, 117 ERA+, 87.5 WAR
Nolan Ryan: 324-292 W-L, 3.19 ERA, 5714 K, 112 ERA+, 77.4 WAR
Don Sutton: 324-256 W-L, 3.25 ERA, 3574 K, 108 ERA+, 62.9 WAR
Tom Seaver: 311-205 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 3640 K, 127 ERA+, 101.1 WAR
Looking at this list of pitchers, Mussina and Schilling’s Hall of Fame credentials suddenly look a lot stronger. They both have an career ERA+ better than or equal to Blyleven, Carlton, Drysdale, Hunter, Jenkins, Marichal, Niekro, Perry, Ryan, and Sutton. Schillings ERA+ is also better than or equal to Gibson, Palmer, and Seaver. Both Mussina and Schillings career WAR is better than Drysdale, Hunter, Palmer, and Sutton. Mussina’s career WAR is also better than Gibson, Jenkins, and Ryan.
To put it bluntly, that’s really special company they can say they are more accomplished than.
After looking at these numbers, I would say that both Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling should be Hall of Famers. Unfortunately for them, they may have to wait to get entrance into the Hall of Fame as voters will want to give their votes to Clemens, Glavine, Johnson, Maddux, and Martinez first. After those players, it does not seem like there are any viable pitching candidates for the Hall of Fame for quite some time. So that’s when Mussina and Schilling can hopefully get their votes for induction.
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“Baseball-Reference.com – Major League Baseball Statistics and History”, Baseball-Reference