A former co-worker of mine, let's call him Tony, used to talk Mets and Yanks with me.   One topic he brought up a lot:

Mike Mussina should be in the Hall of Fame.

On the surface, one could make that argument. After all, in a career spanning nearly 2 full decades, Mussina was a terrific 117 games above .500 at 270-153 (.643), 2,813 Ks in 3,562 IP, a 3.68 ERA,  and a 1.19 WHIP. Very solid. BUT THE MOOSE'S ERA? Kind of high for the Hall.

Made me think of a former stellar Met who no one realistically would make a case for, at least as concerns his being voted into the Hall of Fame:  

Jerry Koosman

The Kooz was a mere 13 games above .500 at 222-209, 2,556 Ks in 3,839 IP, 1.26 WHIP, but had a far better 3.36 career ERA than the Moose.

So, let's see: much better ERA but much weaker W-L record for Koosman. Hmmm...what could possibly be the cause for such a disparity? Eureka!


And with it a cautionary message for Mets starting pitchers:

·       you may have a shot at the Hall of Fame, have the chops to be a Hall of Fame pitcher, but it is not happening if management does not surround you with a strong enough bunch of hitters.

Just ask Jerry.

In 14 of Jerry's first 15 seasons, Mets and Twins hitters finished in the bottom half in terms of his league's run production FOURTEEN TIMES!

In eleven of those 14 seasons, they were 9th or worse in scoring.

Only in his post-prime years of 1982-1985 did he play with above average hitting teams with the White Sox and Phils. Too late to really take full advantage.

Over his entire career, on average, his team was in the 38th percentile in hitting, the equivalent of playing with a .380 team offense- wise his entire career. In his first 15 years, he was in the 25th percentile.  Awful support. Why, primarily?

Mets teams’ hitting sucked, plain and simple. Even when they won 100 games and the World Series in 1969, they were a poor 9th out of 12 in scoring. In fact, in Koosman’s 12 years with the Mets, only once were they above 8th, and that year, they were 7th!!  Just awful.

To drive home the point further, in 1971, 1977 and 1978, Jerry had a very solid combined ERA of 3.50, lower in fact than Mussina's career ERA. Jerry's record those 3 years?

  • A dreadful, legacy-damaging 17-46, due primarily to abysmal run support.  Maybe had he pitched for the best offensive team in baseball those 3 years, he'd have been 46-17 instead.

Mussina had no such problem.  He played for 9 years for an average Orioles hitting team, and then played for 8 years with the Yanks, where they not only hit well above average (on average, 3rd best out of 14 teams), but he also had Mariano Rivera to close.  

Overall, his team's were in the 66th percentile in hitting, as compared to Koosman's 38th percentile.  Let's face it: Moose played his career in heaven.

My guess is if Koosman had the equivalent run support of Mussina throughout his 527 starts and 85 relief outings, he'd have won 75 more games (about 4 more per year, and about one more win and one less loss every 8 appearances). 

If so, he'd have been 297-134 (let’s round that up to 300 wins) - and in the Hall of Fame today.

So again, for guys like Harvey and deGrom, if ownership is too skittish to spend to get you an above average offense year after year, you may end your career slightly over .500 too, and perhaps your legacy will be tarnished as a result.  

Can Mets ownership get it right in the coming years and provide the hitters our elite pitchers really need to excel? Time will tell. History would say the Mets owners won't.  My brother, for one, is convinced they won’t.

Prove us wrong on that, Messrs. Alderson and Wilpon. 
We want Hall of Famers, not a home team struggling to score and win.  We want to see our dominating pitchers dominate - and win regularly - without those pitchers having to be the bat in the line up that makes the difference.


bob gregory said...

The choir is listening.
Please Preach On.

It will be a waste of the Pitching Quality the Mets currently possess if they do not give their best attempt to match it with a major league above average quality offense.

It would be like buying a mansion and allowing the grounds it sits on and surrounding it to be neglected.

Thomas Brennan said...

I am sure there are many other stark examples, but for Moose to be 100 games further over .500 in his career than Kooz, despite Kooz having a lower ERA, really is an amazing example of Mets hitting futility's consequences.

This Mets team, and those of the next several years while this amazing pitching remains intact here, needs strong hitting. No ifs, ands, or buts.

eraff said...

You write such good BLOG BAIT!!!!

Koosman's prime years featured average runs per game that were much lower.

As for "Moose". He's a really nice Pitcher...a Great Accumulator, at least!

I always want my Hall Of Famer "thoughts" to include EVEN THE BRIEFEST of moments when I could look at the field and see a guy as on of the top 1-3 players in the game at his position. You could do that with Marichal's 243 Wins, but NEVER with Kaats 283... or Moose's 268. Koosman is not Close---and he was a GREAT Pitcher!!!!

Thomas Brennan said...

Thanks, Eraff. Koosman really was great early on, especially his rookie year. He lost some velociity and went from great to very good. No Seaver, but I think our biig 3 are all better than Koosman, even if they never approach his longevity. Hopefully they keep all 3 for a good, long time and hit for them. That said, we'll probably hear the Mets traded Harvey for Betts, now that I expressed my hope that he stays :)

eraff said...

Hah!!! More Bait!!! You're a Natural!

Koosman won 36 games in his 1st two years... 222 lifetime!!! 2nd in ROY to John Bench...yes??? Bench, btw.. far and away the best individual position player I ever saw---no player at his postition is CLOSE!!!!....close trail by KGjr and ARod at their respective positions--- speaking of HOF'ers!!!!!

Are you just trying to Coax Me for JK Praise?..... NONE of these guys is Jerry Koosman YET!!!

Thomas Brennan said...

I'm flat out of bait, eraff!

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