Hall of Fame ballots were mailed last week, and while there are five players who were with the Orioles for at least part of their career, only one played the majority of his career in Baltimore.
Holdovers Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa as well as first-timers Freddy Garcia and Miguel Tejada made their cases elsewhere. Tejada, who played five of his 16 seasons with the Orioles, did set a team mark that’s unlikely to be broken with 150 RBIs in 2004.
It’s Mike Mussina who merits the most serious consideration. Of the returning eligibles, Mussina received 63.5 percent of the vote in last year’s Hall of Fame vote, behind only Edgar Martinez, who got 70.4 percent.
In order to be elected, a player must be named on 75 percent of the ballots sent to 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
I’ve been a member for six years, so I’m not eligible and won’t write my own virtual ballot. Real ballots from colleagues, friends and other eligible voters are available elsewhere, so I’ll leave the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens questions to them. I’ll stick to Mussina.
Mussina is in his sixth year of eligibility. A candidate can stay on the ballot for 10 years. Martinez is in his 10th and final year of eligibility.
Mussina has steadily increased his share of the vote, beginning in 2014 when he received just 20.3 percent.
With Mariano Rivera a certainty to be elected and the late Roy Halladay in their first year of eligibility, and Martinez in his last, Mussina might have to wait a bit longer, but it shouldn’t be much longer until he’s elected.
While the importance of wins has been discounted, Mussina’s 270 and his .638 winning percentage are excellent numbers. Jim Palmer won 268 games and had an identical .638 winning percentage, though his 2.86 ERA was nearly a run lower than Mussina’s 3.68,
Mussina doubters are skeptical because he won 20 games only once in his career, his final season in 2008. But he won 18 or 19 five times. Among other counting statistics, his 57 complete games and 23 shutouts won’t be equaled by contemporary pitchers.
Among pitchers with similar statistics according to BaseballReference.com, CC Sabathia has 38 complete games and 12 shutouts, none since 2011.
Mussina’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an outstanding 83, higher than Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Palmer.
Many Orioles fans dislike Mussina because he left Baltimore after the 2000 season for the New York Yankees. He played 10 seasons for the Orioles and eight for the Yankees. Mussina won 147 games with the Orioles and 123 with the Yankees.
Mussina pitched for two Oriole postseason teams, in 1996 and 1997, but he pitched in the postseason in his first seven seasons in New York, reaching the World Series in 2001 and 2003.
He’s a no-brainer as a Hall of Famer to me, but what do you think? Once Mussina is elected, the debate will begin. Will he go in as an Oriole or as a Yankee? He can decide to go in without a team representation as Greg Maddux and Catfish Hunter have done.
This week’s Diner Question: Does Mike Mussina deserve to be a Hall of Famer?