Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Schilling vs. Mussina

A random thought occured to me driving to work this AM: besides the big sluggers and PED-tainted players (Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Piazza, etc.) who will be either on the HOF ballot for the first time or remaining on the ballot, two well-respected pitchers will also make their debuts: Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. Their candidacy will be well debated from here on out.

Disclaimer: While I dabble in and thoroughly support advanced statistical analysis, I won't pretend I speak the language fluently. For the sake of this discussion, I won't delve into the HOF worthiness of Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris, or any other well-discussed pitchers. All data referenced herein comes from the incredible Baseball-Reference.com.

What I thought about was how the voters will look at these two accomplished pitchers.
  • How will they tell them apart?
  • Will Schilling's stellar post-season efforts outweigh Moose's longer and more consistent years and greater win totals?
  • Will each of their lack of milestone win totals preclude both of them, given there are pitchers with greater win totals still having to buy a ticket to enter the HOF?
  • Were they truly great or just very, very good?
  • Will their 'seemingly' PED-free career in a the "Steroids Era" help them or will they be caught up under the blanket of "presumed guilt until proven innocent"?
Let's compare these two horses side by side and see what the numbers begin to tell us. Remember, this is just the beginning of a discussion/debate, not the end. Just ammo in the war. {Sorry for the small data; that's the way it presents for some reason. Click on each to see a larger view!}

Some definitions about the HOF Monitoring stats:
Black Ink: Average HOFer ≈ 40
  • Pitching Statistics
    Four Points for wins, earned run average or strikeouts
    Three Points for innings pitched, win-loss percentage or saves
    Two Points for complete games, lowest walks per 9 innings or lowest hits per 9 innings
    One Point for appearances, starts or shutouts
Gray Ink: Average HOFer ≈ 185
  • Essentially the same as the Black-Ink above, but it counts appearances in the top ten of the league. For each appearance the values are below. As with the Black Ink, this method penalizes more recent players as they have 14-16 teams per league, while the older players had just 8. To get a point you must be in the top 10 in the league in that category.
  • Pitching Statistics
    Four Points for wins, earned run average or strikeouts
    Three Points for innings pitched, win-loss percentage or saves
    Two Points for complete games, lowest walks per 9 innings or lowest hits per 9 innings
    One Point for appearances, starts or shutouts
HOF Standards: Average HOFer ≈ 50
  • Pitching Statistics
    One point for each 10 wins over 100, limit 25.
    One point for each 20 games over .500, limit 10.
    For each of the following a minimum of 500 innings is required before these points are added.
    One point for each .013 of winning percentage above .500, limit 15.
    One point for each .20 of ERA below 4.00, limit 10.
    One point for each 200 strikeouts over 1000, limit 10.
    One point for each .30 of BB/9IP below 4.00, limit 10.
    One point for each .30 of H/9IP below 10.00, limit 10.
    One point for each 1000 innings above 1000, limit 5.
    One point for each 100 complete games above 200, limit 5. Changed from James's slightly
    One point for each 30 shutouts, limit 5. Changed from James's slightly
HOF Monitor: Likely HOFer > 100
  • Pitching Rules
    15 points for each season of 30 or more wins, 10 for 25 wins, 8 for 23 wins, 6 for 20 wins, 4 for 18 wins, and 2 for 15 wins.
    6 points for 300 strikeouts, 3 points for 250 SO, or 2 points for 200 or more strikeouts.
    2 points for each season with 14 or more wins and a .700 winning percentage.
    4 points for a sub-2.00 ERA, 1 point if under 3.00.
    7 points for 40 or more saves, 4 points for 30 or more, and 1 point for 20 or more.
    8 points for each MVP award, 5 for a Cy Young award, 3 for each AllStar Game, and 1 point for a Rookie of the Year award.
    1 point for a gold glove.
    1 point for each no-hitter. This is not currently included.
    2 points for leading the league in ERA, 1 for leading in games, wins, innings, W-L%, SO, SV or SHO. Half point for leading in CG.
    35 points for 300 or more wins, 25 for 275, 20 for 250, 15 for 225, 10 for 200, 8 for 174 and 5 for 150 wins.
    8 points for a career W-L% over .625, 5 points for over .600, 3 points for over .575, and 1 point for over .525, min. 190 decisions.
    10 points for a career ERA under 3.00, min 190 decisions.
    20 points for 300 career saves and 10 points for 200 career saves.
    30 points for 1000 career games, 20 for 850 games and 10 for 700 games.
    20 points for more than 4,000 strikeouts, and 10 for 3,000 SO.
    2 points for each WS start, 1 point for each relief appearance, and 2 for a win.
    1 point for each LCS or LDS win.


Ron Rollins said...

Could you have gotten the numbers any smaller?

Personally, I'll go with Mussina, but not Schilling. Mussina was consistent throughtout his entire career, and always put up good numbers. He could still be pitching and add to them, if he wanted.

Schilling picked a few years with some really good teams, and gets noteriety for off the field stuff as much as anything else.

Schilling's got a case, but if he does, Mussina is a lock.

Ron Rollins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tadthebad said...


Whaaaaa? Schilling had more Ks, better K:BB, better ERA+...Mussina has the edge in wins (not a meaningful stat) and innings (meaningful). Whether Schilling gets in or not, I don't see how Mussina is a lock.

lar said...

Nice presentation, Jason. The Schilling/Mussina question was one of the first things that popped into my head when Schilling announced his retirement yesterday. When Moose announced his retirement earlier this winter, I remember that all the discussion was based around his chances at the Hall and whether he had a better case than, say, Kevin Brown or Curt Schilling. Now that Schilling has announced his retirement in the same winter, it should make the head-to-head thing 5 years from now rather interesting (one thing, though: Schilling didn't appear in a game at all last year, so will his Hall eligibility start a year earlier than Moose's?). And if you look at the BBTF thread from yesterday, you'll see that those same Moose/Schill/Brown comparisons are going on...

Personally, I think they both belong in, but I'm not sure how the voters are going to act. Mussina was a top-notch pitcher for a long time. He did have a lull in his production for a few years on the Yankees, but that's pretty common (the lull, I mean). People today seem to forget just how good he was in the 90s. If you look at the Sporting News and other preview guides from the time (of which I admittedly have more of an interest in than others), they predicted year-after-year that he would win the AL Cy Young that year. I have every TSN preview magazine from the 1990s, and no one was predicted as often as Mussina to win the Cy or MVP (I'll find the exact number when I get home).

Schilling, on the other hand, was also a fantastic pitcher, but for probably a shorter time. But he did a lot during those years. I think what helps Schilling the most is what type of pitcher he was: straight-up dominant, fastball throwing strikeout pitcher. All of his numbers - the K rate, the k:BB rate, his number of unearned runs - are a direct result of this. And there's nothing wrong with that. For a ten-year span, minus some injuries here and there, he was a force. And his postseason record just cannot be ignored. For some people, their postseason heroics is their main argument for enshrinement. In those cases, I don't think they should be elected. But when you're as good as Schilling was for his peak, and when your postseasons are as strong as his were, I think you have to take it into consideration.

Like I said, I think Moose and Schill should both be in the Hall, and I think, eventually, both will be. Schilling might have an easier case, for some of the writers, I mean, because of his power-pitcher numbers and his whole aura. Mussina may see a little resistance because he was never considered the "best pitcher of his time", but I don't think it's his fault that he was up against Johnson, Pedro, Maddux, and Clemens during his peak (or that his best season coincided with Randy Johnson's best season, making it impossible to win the Cy Young). Plus, he was kind of a hybrid-power pitcher, getting lots of strikeouts when he was younger, but due to a strange knucklecurve rather than a power fastball.

(man, this was longer than I thought it would be... I can't imagine how long the pieces will be when I write something for my own blog...)

Zach Sanders said...

Personally, I'd put both in.

Schilling's outstanding postseasons push him over the top in my mind, and Moose was highly consistent in all his years.

I don't want to put too much stock into their numbers, because I'm not sure how much they mean to the HOF voters.

I would guess that both get in, if not by reputation alone.

patsfan630 said...

Nice post, well thought out.

I think Schilling is going to get in with very little doubt. It might not be on the first ballot, but I would bet on the first 3. Also, Schilling will be on the ballot in 4 years (at the same time Bonds and Clemens make their debut) while Mussina will appear in 5 years. Still, they were both very good pitchers who were very consistent over the course of their very long careers. I think they'll both make it. Mussina will have a little more trouble, IMO, since he never won a ring.

Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind is that Mussina pitched his entire career in the AL East.

ERA while pitching for AL EAST team:

Mussina 3.68
Schilling 4.04