Circle of Greats 1961 Results: Moose Head of the Class

When this round of balloting began, Mike Mussina was not considered the most likely winner by those who offered predictions, but Magic Mike’s cool demeanor and steady performance over the years seem to have helped bring him the most votes in a closely contested, back-and-forth election. More on Moose and the voting after the jump.

Most Pitching Wins Above Replacement (WAR) (baseball-reference version) in American League History:
1. Walter Johnson 144.7
2. Roger Clemens 117.0
3. Lefty Grove 103.7
4. Bert Blyleven 81.6
5. Mike Mussina 78.1

Most Seasons by a Yankee with 4.0 or more Pitching WAR:
5 Seasons, by Mike Mussina, Whitey Ford and Ron Guidry

Most Seasons by an Oriole/Browns Franchise Player with 4.0 or more Pitching WAR:
8 Seasons, by Jim Palmer
7 Seasons, by Mike Mussina 
5 Seasons, by Urban Shocker (Shocker and Mussina have been the two best players by far whose whole MLB careers were split between the Yanks and Browns/O’s franchises).

89 ballots were cast this round, the highest turnout yet. Mussina appeared on 44 ballots, winning induction at just under the 50% level.

All the holdovers this round continued to extend their eligibility. Edgar Martinez continues to hang on one round at a time. Of the players actually born in 1961, the only one who received significant support was Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball finished 10th in the balloting, but he met the 10% threshold, just barely, so as with Edgar, Mattingly will be back next round, albeit sitting on the bubble. The full record of the voting for the 1961 round is here: 1961 COG Vote Tally .  The full list of players who will carryover to the next ballot, and the length of their currently assured eligibility will be listed in the 1960 ballot post.

The Circle of Greats membership thus far:
Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Randy Johnson
Greg Maddux
Mike Mussina
Mike Piazza
Frank Thomas


Circle of Greats 1961 Results: Moose Head of the Class — 18 Comments

  1. I want those cross-tabs! What an interesting result. My back of the envelope calculation has Schilling and Mussina on the same ballot just 17 times, so it’s reasonable to assume many saw it as a one or the other.

  2. I still don’t understand the Mussina > Schilling stuff. You have to completely disregard the post season. I just can’t do that. People need to be smacked on the head and reminded what the word “career” means.

    • And other people need to be smacked on the head and reminded that context matters. :)

      How do we know that Schilling was better than Mussina is the postseason? Won-lost record? Nope, we know that’s not a good way to evaluate pitchers. ERA? Again, nope. Another way that’s been discredited. We could look at things like hits/9, HR/9, K/BB ratio. And if we do, we’ll see that Schilling was slightly better than Mussina in those categories. But Schilling threw a lot more postseason innings against the NL which was a weaker league (and of course didn’t have a DH). Once we take that into account, the gap closes. In the end, Schilling probably was better than Mussina in the postseason but it’s s very small difference at best.

      • Mussina 139.2 IP, 7 and 8 with a 3.42 ERA. 7.8/1.2/2.3/9.8 in h/hr/bb/so per 9IP. 1.103 whip and a 4.39 so/bb
        Schilling 133.1 IP, 11 and 2 with a 2.23 ERA. 7.0/0.8/1.7/8.1 in h/hr/bb/so per 9IP. 0.968 whip and a 4.8 so/bb

        So, you’re looking at two guys with similar post season appearances and you get out of that roughly equal? NL vs AL differences? How many times did Schilling face the pitcher? 36.2 of his innings in the NL were in the world series against AL teams. He only pitched NL vs NL games in 50 innings of his post season career.

        Also, lets look at world series lines:
        Mussina 18 IP, 8 runs allowed 4.00 R/9
        Schilling 48 IP, 13 runs allowed 2.44 R/9
        Hmm, I suppose 21.1 of those innings for Schilling against the 2001 NYY were a “weaker” competition? It’s not like they’d won 4 out of the past 5 years or somesuch right?

        Schilling’s post season value is as high as anybody’s in the history of baseball. Mussina was his usual self, no disrespect intended there. But saying they were equal is not fair to Schilling.

      • Also, Mussina has 101 un-earned runs to Schilling’s 65. That’s a few tenths worth of ERA. Mussina pitched over year’s worth more innings but for a guy noted for defense it seems odd. Value of strikeouts maybe? 7.1 per 9 vs 8.6?

        • Quick back of the envelope shows that Schilling held his post season opponents to 2.56 runs under their regular season average. Mussina held his to 1.67 runs under their regular season average.

          Taking defense into account narrows the gap to 2.56 vs 1.99. Still a decent lead for Schilling (0.57 runs) but less than half the 1.19 run gap suggested by their postseason ERAs.

          Of course, this doesn’t take into account things such as ballpark factors, actual batters faced etc., which could move things closer or further away.

          So yes Schilling does appear to have been better but the gap is much smaller than it might appear at first. And once other factors are taken into account, who knows how things would look?

        • Mosc, it’s a very close vote, and remember that the menu wasn’t just Mussina vs. Schilling head to head. More than a quarter of the respondents voted for someone else entirely, with about ten voting only for hitters. Glavine and Smoltz also got decent levels of support, and that could have funneled votes away from either Mussina or Schilling for voters who didn’t want to go all pitcher.

          • Mussina got less than 50% of the vote, which, for someone with his record, is not outrageous at all. That Schilling should have got more votes isn’t a problem of Mussina logging 44 of 89 but of Schilling not being an appealing candidate, for whatever reason voters think he isn’t.

      • Mosc, I don’t see many discussions here that Mussina was necessarily better than Schilling. The general consensus seems to be that both are worthy, although with differing paths that add up to very similar career WARs, with B-R rating Mussina slightly ahead, and with Fangraphs rating Schilling slightly ahead.

        What we have was a close vote where Mussina came out on top, perhaps driven by two other forces: First, Mussina has been on these ballots for two additional rounds, allowing him to gain additional voters. Human nature being what it is, people have a tendency to stick with their votes unless forced by other circumstances. Second, Schilling’s personality might have cost him a few votes.

        Part of the issue may be your language. Nobody needs to be smacked in the head for voting for Mussina. To me he’s a clearly deserving candidate, and if a deserving candidate mkes it in, even if I think one might be more deserving, I don’t think smacking in the head is in order. Keep in mind that many were voting for both. I went back to double check just to makesure, and I am in that category,voting for both Schilling and Mussina.

        Now when I was on the spreadsheet, I also checked your vote. You didn’t vote for Mussina at all, voting for for Schilling, Larkin and Mattingly. Now I’m a big Mattingly supporter going back to my youth, and view him as a HOF-caliber talent, but one who fell short, yet I do understand the argument for him. Yet I would vote for Mussina well before Mattingly, and did so.

        So my question would be do you view Mussina as a HOFer at all?

        • Eh, I voted for Mattingly to be more of an anti-vote against Walker (who I do not think belongs) and Mussina (who to me is borderline, really gets into how many hitters and relief pitchers you want to let in). I didn’t vote for Mattingly the next year. I really really don’t think Mattingly belongs, just wanted to give him some love. Clearly he got more love as the thread went on. I think I was the first or second to vote for him…

          I don’t know about Mussina but he was clearly not in the top 3 for me, let alone the top 1. I’d probably put Smoltz higher than Mussina too.

  3. Half of the Circle of Greats are pitchers in the early going. I suspect that is a matter of timing and will change.

    Happy to see Moose elected simply so I no longer have to keep voting for him!

  4. I’d love to know the fan-base profiles of the voters.
    How much of the vote was stat-based, and how much was emotion?
    I’m not making a value judgement, just think it would be interesting as a reference point.
    The impression I get from reading this community the last few years is that more Yankee fans comprise the HHS discussions than Diamondback fans or Brave fans.

    If that is true, did it affect the Mussina vote?
    (I’m Bronx-born myself, and I had an all-offense ballot).

    How much of it was perception of his greatness, based upon the high-note which he chose to exit the game?

    Was the “ace” factor a factor?
    Meaning, for much of Mussina’s career, he was the titled “Ace” of the staffs he staffed.
    Whereas at their peaks, Schilling was overshadowed by a seven foot mullet, and Glavine/Smoltz were schooled by the Professor.

  5. A few post 1961 vote observations on Schilling vs. Mussina. There were a total of 89 ballots, and one or the other of them appeared on all but 23. Of that 66 they were picked together on 18, which to me seems to indicate that most people did an either or. Most of the rest of the votes where one or the other appeared were just swap outs; you took one of them and filled out the rest of your ticket. One interesting example was pairing one of the two with Alomar and Larkin. Five Schilling voters did it, and five Mussina voters did as well. The last grouping of the 23 that didn’t have either Mussina or Schilling were actually quite interesting. The 23 paired up randomly, and there were no “outlier” votes there.

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