Jason has a breakdown of Moose's HoF chances, but because there's really nothing else to do this afternoon I thought I'd do a Keltner list:
Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
Never, nor was he ever considered the best pitcher in baseball.
Was he the best player on his team?
Setting aside the argument that a position player has more overall value than a pitcher, I think we can certainly say that Mussina was the best Oriole for a couple of years. 1992 and 1994 spring to mind. There are arguments for other years if you discount Rafael Palmiero's suspected steroid use. He was very often the best pitcher on the Orioles.
Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
Never. There is very little black ink on his resume. It's not his fault that he shared the league with Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez throughout his prime, but facts is facts.
Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
He was involved in many after coming over to the Yankees, but I can't think of a single instance in which anyone spoke of Mussina as having a real "impact" on them. His overall postseason numbers aren't terribly far removed from his career norms, but Hall of Fame voters look for someone to step it up in October. He'll also be penalized -- unfairly, I think -- for never having won a World Series with the Yankees.
Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
This is where his timing is going to help him a lot. In reality, his prime probably ended in October 2003, after which he put up two below average seasons, followed by a bounceback year, an awful year, and then another bounceback year. On the whole, then, I'd say that the evidence shows that yes, he could be serviceable past his prime.
The story that will be told, however, was that he quit while still in his prime. This isn't true, but when you quit after winning 20 games, you're going to be compared to Koufax and stuff and have all manner of romantic tales told about how you walked away while still on top.
Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
Five of his top ten comps are in the Hall: Marichal, Plamer, Hubbell, Griffith, and Bunning. The other five: Wells, Schilling, Morris, Pettitte, get a lot of talk about someday making it. Well, maybe not Wells. None of those ten are strikingly similar, however.
Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
As Jason noted, the standards and monitor tests at B-R.com say yes. There are many guys with fewer wins in the Hall of Fame.
Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
If there is, I haven't heard it. He's always been solid and was often excellent, and that's where his reputation lies. If anything, he was probably not given enough credit for many years due to the unfair fixation writers have on the magic number 20. A couple of random breaks and he easily has five 20-win seasons, and everyone's talking about him being Jim Palmer.
Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
Well, he's not eligible, which makes this exercise terribly premature. It's possible, however, that when he is eligible, he'll have Maddux, Clemens, Glavine, Martinez, Schilling, Smoltz, Pettitte, and Randy Johnson as competition within the span of a year or two. That, I think is going to be his biggest problem, and what will make him have to wait a while.
How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
No MVP awards and no close consideration. I don't think he ever had a plausible MVP argument.
How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in?
He was a five time All-Star, and I don't think anyone would have batted an eye if he were selected for a couple of others.
Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
There are several pitchers with more, but the All-Star Game is so tainted by weirdness anymore that I think we should dispense with this as an important factor, especially for pitchers. There are a lot of guys selected who don't deserve it. There are a lot of guys not selected because they quietly signaled to the manager that they'd love three days off. Mussina could have pitched in more, he could have pitched in fewer, and I don't think his case turns on that.
If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
Extremely doubtful. It certainly never happened.
What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
Not in any way that I know. Maybe someday everyone will be bending all the way to their ankles when pitching from the stretch and we'll have Mussina to thank for it, but I kind of doubt it.
Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
There have always been stories of Mussina being something of a priggish snob, but I think that has more to do with the fact that he's an educated guy from a serious college, and in the relatively uneducated world of baseball, those sorts of stories are always circulate about guys like that. If there is any merit to those stories, it's nothing that will make a difference. Jim Palmer made the Hall of Fame for cryin' out loud.
As always, the Keltner list is more fun for conversational purposes than it is determinative of anything. My view is that Mussina will make the Hall of Fame, but that he'll have to wait in line a while like a Jim Rice or a Goose Gossage. If I had to vote today I'd say no simply because I have a hard time getting my mind around the concept of an era's seventh or eighth best starter being Hall-worthy. That said, I can't see myself leading any battles against his inclusion either.
Mike Mussina was very good for a very long time, and to have strong feelings against such a beast being inducted says more about your feelings towards the Hall of Fame in general than it does about Mussina himself.