On Tuesday the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce new members for it's 2015 class. Early reports appear to indicate that Randy Johnson Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz will enter the Hall on their first try, with Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza potentially joining them as well. (The tracker can be found here: ( https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmkBNPY405WAdFBOUVBhbjNRZjYzbWI2d201bm0tSmc&usp=sharing#gid=16 )
Earlier this month I posted who I would vote for-should I have a ballot. The post can be found here, but the ten players I selected were Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, John Smoltz and Mike Mussina. I also mentioned that I believe Carlos Delgado, Larry Walker, Alan Trammell and Curt Schilling are all HOF caliber players. I have been closely tracking the HOF ballots of other people, and have been re-evaluating my ballot as well (Unlike actual BBWAA writers who submit their ballot, I can go back and make changes). The closest battle in my mind was between fellow starting pitchers Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling. I went with Mussina in my original ballot, having studied his career and determined he was hall worthy. However, I do not feel that I did adequate research on Schilling, and I want to spend some time comparing the two of them, to see who should earn a spot on my (sadly fictional) ballot!
First off, here are their career numbers:
Schilling is listed first with Mussina right below. The two striking differences are the Win total and the strikeout numbers. Mussina had 270 wins compared to only 216 for Schilling. I have been very adamant about the over valuing of wins for pitchers, and this situation is no different. Schilling played on some very bad teams early in his career in Philadelphia, whereas Mussina was on the Orioles and the Yankees on years where they were very successful. As you can see by the ERA and WHIP numbers, each were very good at getting batters out and keeping teams from scoring. Mussina earning 54 more wins than Schilling is not necessarily a reflection of his superior talent.
Schilling struck out 3116 batters, compared to 2813 for Mussina. This is especially notable when you consider that Mussina threw 301 innings more than Schilling, and started 100 more games. The 8.6 K/9 for Schilling is substantially higher than the 7.1 for Mussina, although they were both above average strikeout artists.
The rest of their stats are extremely similar, to the point where it is hard to tell them apart. Schilling had 26 more complete games, a large difference but in a relatively meaningless stat.
Ultimately, I believe both of these players are Hall of Famers. They are slightly above the camp of great starters who fall just short of Hall worthy, such as David Cone, David Wells, or Bret Saberhagen. (although on the same level as Kevin Brown, a notable absence from the Hall). If I had to pick, I think I would change and submit my last vote for Curt Schilling instead of Mike Mussina. They are extremely close and it hurts me to pick Curt instead, as I have always liked Mussina, but he is a (slightly) more deserving candidate.
Tomorrow is the big day - less than 24 hours until Randy and Pedro (and hopefully a couple of other guys) will hear their name called for the Hall. Good luck to all the candidates!