Thursday, November 6, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #157 MIKE MUSSINA

A LOT BETTER THAN YOU MAY REMEMBER.


HIS NUMBERS ARE HOF WORTHY.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Like Ted Williams homering in his final at-bat, Mike Mussina went out on top. He pitched six shutout innings against the Red Sox, earning his 20th victory in what would be his final major-league start and game in 2008. In doing so, he became the oldest first-time 20-game winner at 39. When he announced his retirement that November, he also became the first pitcher since Sandy Koufax in '66 to bow out following a 20-win season. His 270 victories capped an 18-year career spent in the high-scoring AL East in which he won 64 percent of his starts, struck out 2,813 batters and posted a 123 ERA+. He makes a compelling case for enshrinement to Cooperstown.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • With the AL East champion Orioles, Mussina beat the Mariners and #154 Randy Johnson twice in the '97 ALDS, highlighted by the clinching victory on Oct. 5. He went seven innings, allowing a run on two hits with seven strikeouts in the 3-1 victory in Game 4. 

DEFINING SEASON

  • In his first full season in '92, Mussina announced his presence by going 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA. He pitched 241 innings and walked only 48 batters, leading the majors with a .783 winning percentage.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. After Mussina declined to sign with the Orioles out of high school in '87, the Birds finally got their man in '90 after taking him 20th overall out of Stanford.
  2. Three times Mussina flirted with perfect games, retiring the first 20-plus batters. The closest was with the Yankees on Sept. 2, 2001, against the Red Sox when he was one batter away before Carl Everett's bloop single. He got the next batter to finish with a 13-strikeout one-hitter.
  3. After winning 147 games with the Orioles as their ace, Mussina signed as a free agent with the Yankees, where he went 123-72 with a 3.88 ERA. His Yankee career ('01-'08) spanned the years in the '00s in between World Series titles.
  4. Established an AL record with 17 consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories.
  5. In his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot in '14, Mussina received 20.3 percent of the vote, with 75 percent needed for induction.

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