Thursday, March 13, 2008

Megdal: Uh-Oh! Moose Is Key

The New York Observer discusses Mike Mussina, his importance to the Yankees ballclub and his now hittable repertoire:

A simple truth runs through all of Mussina’s numbers—he has become extremely easy to hit.

This is supported by the anecdotal evidence of Mussina’s disappearing velocity. In his prime, he routinely hit 92-94 with his fastball—a solid, above-average heater. But too often last season, Mussina’s fastball averaged 84-86. Considering that his walk rate is still excellent, it isn’t as if he can cut down on free passes to make up for the fact that he isn’t fooling anyone.

Combined with a solid curveball and excellent changeup, Mussina managed a long period of sustained success. With 250 victories, a career ERA 22 percent better than league average, and nearly 3400 innings on his resume, Mussina is certainly a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame already. But should Mussina add another 15-win season to his career totals, he’d have 265 wins—and just two post-1900 pitchers (Tommy John and Bert Blyleven) have earned more wins while failing to earn a place in Cooperstown—but both had winning percentages (.555 and .534, respectively) far lower than Mussina’s .635.


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