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Is Mussina a Hall of Famer?

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The worst-kept secret in baseball started to leak out on Wednesday, when it was revealed that right-hander Mike Mussina was indeed going to hang up his spikes after 18 seasons.

The news certainly comes as no shock, as the Yankees have been operating under the assumption that Mussina would not be returning since the season ended. It was never about coming back this season for him, it would have been about coming back for at least three more seasons to make a run at 300 wins.

If he had returned next year and had another good year, he would have owed it to himself to go after 300. In the end, he wasn't ready for that kind of commitment.

Now the question becomes, is Mike Mussina a Hall of Famer?

He will end his career at 270-153 with an earned run average of 3.68 and 2,813 strikeouts. However, he led the league in wins just once, and finished in the top-3 of AL Cy Young voting one time.

Mussina, who turns 40 next month, also won 20 games just one time in his career - this past season - but won 19 games twice and 18 on three other occasions.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the fifth pitcher since 1900 to win 20 games or more in the final season of his career - and the first since Sandy Koufax in 1967.

Also, keep in mind that of the 25 pitchers to have won 270 games since 1900, only five - Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander - have a higher winning percentage than Mussina's .638.

All are either in the Hall of Fame or will be there soon enough.

Mussina also spent his entire career in the AL East, during the steroid era, and something should be said for that. But then again, he also played on teams that made the playoffs nine times in his 18-year career and only played on four clubs that finished below .500.

He's very comparable to a guy like Tom Glavine, who, of course, has won over 300 games, but played four more seasons and, like Mussina, pitched on great teams throughout his career.

Glavine, though, is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and finished in the top-3 four other times. He is a lock for the Hall, but is he that much better than Mussina, if at all?

Sure he had five seasons with at least 20 wins, but had far more mediocre campaigns than Mussina, who, if anything, was remarkably consistent throughout his 18-year career.

Actually if Glavine had retired the season before he turned 40, like Mussina is doing, he would have ended with 270 wins and probably would have found himself outside looking in his quest for the Hall.

So Glavine, like countless others, gets rewarded for hanging on just to compile some stats, and Mussina gets punished because he knew when enough was enough. Is there any doubt that Mussina would get to 300 wins if he hung around for another three or four years with the Yankees?

Granted, I don't think either one of them are Hall of Famers, but if Glavine gets in, you have to put Mussina in. By the way, should that happen and they both get in, someone owes Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris a huge apology.

Debates like this are what separates the Baseball Hall of Fame from the others. Normally, though, I work under the assumption that if it is as much of a debate as this seems to be, then he probably shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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