Explaining my Hall of Fame ballot

One of only two pitchers in history to win four Cy Youngs in a row. (Randy Johnson was the other.) … Seven appearances in the top three of Cy Young voting, and nine in the top five. … Seven finishes in the top two in his league in ERA. … Nine straight seasons in the top three in WHIP. … 18 Gold Gloves (most by any player at any position). … And then there's this: a 3.16 career ERA at a time when the average pitcher's ERA was 4.11. The only other pitcher in history with a differential that large and at least 5,000 innings pitched, according to Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, was some dude named Walter Johnson. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Tom Glavine

Did you know there has never been a year where two pitchers who were longtime teammates were elected to the Hall of Fame together? But if Glavine and Maddux don't rewrite that line of the Cooperstown history books, these voters must be even more confused than I ever suspected. Consider Glavine's credentials:

Two Cy Youngs and six top-three finishes. … A 1995 World Series MVP award, punctuated by an eight-inning, one-hit, no-run masterpiece in the deciding game of the only World Series his Braves teams ever won. … Five 20-win seasons (if you're into that), second only to Steve Carlton among left-handers in the past half-century. … And No. 6 all-time among left-handers in both WAR and JAWS. The only five ahead of him: Lefty Grove, Randy Johnson, Warren Spahn, Eddie Plank and Carlton. End of argument.

Frank Thomas

Is there really a serious chance that Thomas won't glide into Cooperstown in his first year on the ballot? Really? How? Why? Who cares how little impact he made with a glove on his hand. As Dave Schoenfield wrote the other day, he's one of the 20 greatest hitters of all time. Take a look:

Only player in history with seven straight seasons of 20 HR/.300 AVG./100 BB/100 RBIs. … First man since Mickey Mantle to lead the AL in OPS four times. … First player since Stan Musial, and the first AL hitter since Lou Gehrig, to run off seven straight seasons with a .300/.400/.500 slash line. … Back-to-back MVP awards. … And one of just three men in history to finish a career with 10,000 plate appearances and a slash line of .300/.400/.550. The other two: Musial and Babe Ruth. Yikes!

Mike Mussina

Mike Mussina never won a Cy Young Award. Had only one full season with an ERA under 3.00. Never led his league in ERA or strikeouts. Retired while he was still 30 wins away from 300. But if those are the kind of numbers you're using to conclude this man was not a Hall of Famer, you're not looking closely enough, because Mussina's 18 years of sustained, consistent excellence rank him alongside the best pitchers of his time:

Finished in the top six in the AL in ERA 10 times, despite spending his whole career pitching in hitters' parks in the AL East. … Was awesome in 21 postseason starts (3.42 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 4.4-to-1 K/BB ratio). … A .638 winning percentage that ranks sixth all-time among members of the 250-Win Club. … And the clincher is this: nine seasons with an adjusted ERA-plus of 130 or better (and at least 24 starts). The only pitchers since 1900 with more seasons like that: Clemens, Walter Johnson, Grove, Christy Mathewson and Greg Maddux. And the group tied with Mussina at nine consists of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Feel free to read that last nugget again. It has "Hall of Fame" written all over it.

Jeff Kent

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