posted on May, 3 2006 @ 08:36 PM
Let me put up one other guy for discussion as a potential candidate for inclusion with Pedro, Clemens, Randy Johnson and Maddux, among the all-time
greatest pitchers who are currently active and in the twilight of their careers.
The OBVIOUS argument against him is E.R.A. His career E.R.A. is 3.64, which obviously is nothing special, but he's pitched his entire career with the
Orioles and the Yankees, whose home parks are brutal on right-handed pitchers. Does this fact reflect itself in his Career Adjusted E.R.A.?
Somewhat, but not a lot. His career adjusted E.R.A. is 125, which means he's been 25% better than the average pitchers of his time, AFTER his brutal
home parks are factored in. Change that to 24% and it's exactly HALF of Lefty Grove's margin of superiority. Clemens is 43% above his peers, after
park adjustments, which is enormously better than Mussina's 25%. Maddux is 38% better than his peers after park adjustments, which basically is 50%
better than Mussina. Randy Johnson is at 42%.
So if you go by E.R.A., which pretty much everyone agrees is the biggest criterion for judging pitchers, and whether you use straight E.R.A. or
Adjusted E.R.A., Mussina isn't close to his greatest peers.
But should it be that simple?
Mussina really is a moose and is 100 games above .500 in his career. That's one less than Marichal was, and a lot more than Bob Gibson was. It's a
hell of a lot more than Curt Schilling is.
Isn't there something to be said for the concept a pitcher can pitch just well enough to win? Did he really get to be 228-128 by dumb luck? I mean,
the guy has an outside shot at 300 wins and is pitching just fine this year.
Will I ever rate him with Clemens, Big Unit, Pedro or Maddux? No, extremely unlikely, no and no. But, in light of his 228-128 record, I'm wondering
if some other baseball fans do. It's pretty hard to argue with that W-L record, and after 356 career decisions, it's pretty hard to dismiss the whole
thing as a lucky fluke.