• The Magic Moose

    Posted by on July 19th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    In 2007, Mike Mussina had an ERA of 5.15 on the season – and he was a below league average pitcher…as he allowed 8 more runs created than what an average pitcher would have allowed.

    This season, it’s a different story for Mussina. And, it’s happening for him as a 39-year old. Why?

    In 2007, Mike Mussina’s K/BB ratio was 2.60 – which was the lowest mark in this measure for Mussina since 1994. However, this season, to date, Mussina’s K/BB ratio is 4.63 (in 113.3 IP).

    Coming into this season, Mussina’s career K/BB ratio was 3.53.

    I decided to go back and look at every pitcher, since 1996, with at least 20 starts, who had a K/BB ratio of 4.5 (or better) to see how many of these pitchers had good seasons – in terms of saving runs above average. Via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, here’s the list:

    PITCHER		YEAR	RSAA	GS	SO/BB	IP
    Pedro Martinez	2000	77	29	8.88	217.0
    Pedro Martinez	1999	71	29	8.46	213.3
    Roger Clemens	1997	69	34	4.29	264.0
    Pedro Martinez	1997	65	31	4.55	241.3
    Randy Johnson	2002	62	35	4.70	260.0
    Randy Johnson	1999	60	35	5.20	271.6
    Randy Johnson	2001	59	34	5.24	249.6
    Randy Johnson	2000	57	35	4.57	248.6
    Greg Maddux	1998	55	34	4.53	251.0
    Johan Santana	2004	54	34	4.91	228.0
    Pedro Martinez	2003	53	29	4.38	186.6
    Kevin Brown	1996	53	32	4.82	233.0
    Greg Maddux	1997	51	33	8.85	232.6
    Randy Johnson	2004	50	35	6.59	245.6
    Javier Vazquez	2003	48	34	4.23	230.6
    Curt Schilling	2001	47	35	7.51	256.6
    Pedro Martinez	2002	47	30	5.98	199.3
    Greg Maddux	2000	45	35	4.52	249.3
    Greg Maddux	1996	45	35	6.14	245.0
    Ben Sheets	2004	45	34	8.25	237.0
    Roy Halladay	2003	45	36	6.38	266.0
    Jason Schmidt	2003	44	29	4.52	207.6
    Johan Santana	2006	44	34	5.21	233.6
    Andy Pettitte	2005	43	33	4.17	222.3
    Kevin Brown	2000	43	33	4.60	230.0
    Mark Prior	2003	42	30	4.90	211.3
    Curt Schilling	2004	42	32	5.80	226.6
    C.C. Sabathia	2007	41	34	5.65	241.0
    Curt Schilling	1998	40	35	4.92	268.6
    John Smoltz	1996	40	35	5.02	253.6
    Roy Oswalt	2006	39	32	4.37	220.6
    Johan Santana	2005	39	33	5.29	231.6
    Chris Carpenter	2005	39	33	4.18	241.6
    Kevin Brown	1998	38	35	5.24	257.0
    Josh Beckett	2007	36	30	4.85	200.6
    Curt Schilling	2002	36	35	9.58	259.3
    Greg Maddux	2001	35	34	6.41	233.0
    Curt Schilling	2003	34	24	6.06	168.0
    Mike Mussina	2001	34	34	5.10	228.6
    Curt Schilling	1997	34	35	5.50	254.3
    Mike Mussina	1997	33	33	4.04	224.6
    Pedro Martinez	2005	32	31	4.43	217.0
    Chris Carpenter	2006	32	32	4.28	221.6
    Javier Vazquez	2001	31	32	4.73	223.6
    Brad Radke	2004	31	34	5.50	219.6
    Jeff Fassero	1996	30	34	4.04	231.6
    Roy Oswalt	2001	29	20	6.00	141.6
    Bret Saberhagen	1999	28	22	7.36	119.0
    John Smoltz	2007	26	32	4.19	205.6
    David Wells	1998	23	30	5.62	214.3
    Jose Lima		1999	23	35	4.25	246.3
    Aaron Harang	2007	23	34	4.19	231.6
    Javier Vazquez	2007	23	32	4.26	216.6
    Cole Hamels	2007	23	28	4.12	183.3
    Mike Mussina	2003	23	31	4.88	214.6
    Mike Mussina	2000	23	34	4.57	237.6
    David Wells	2000	22	35	5.35	229.6
    Jake Peavy	2005	21	30	4.32	203.0
    Johan Santana	2007	21	33	4.52	219.0
    Carlos Silva	2005	20	27	7.89	188.3
    Mike Mussina	1998	20	29	4.27	206.3
    Odalis Perez	2002	18	32	4.08	222.3
    Mike Mussina	2006	18	32	4.91	197.3
    Jon Lieber	1999	17	31	4.04	203.3
    Curt Schilling	2007	17	24	4.39	151.0
    Randy Johnson	2005	17	34	4.49	225.6
    Rick Reed		1998	16	31	5.28	212.3
    Ben Sheets	2005	16	22	5.64	156.6
    Curt Schilling	2006	15	31	6.54	204.0
    Shane Reynolds	1999	15	35	5.32	231.6
    Brad Radke	2001	15	33	5.27	226.0
    Chris Carpenter	2004	14	28	4.00	182.0
    Jose Lima		1998	13	33	5.28	233.3
    Greg Maddux	2004	13	33	4.58	212.6
    Rick Reed		2002	12	32	4.65	188.0
    Andy Pettitte	2001	11	31	4.00	200.6
    Mike Mussina	2008	11	20	4.63	113.3
    Jamie Shields	2007	10	31	5.11	215.0
    Brad Radke	2005	8	31	5.09	200.6
    Shane Reynolds	1996	7	35	4.64	239.0
    Jon Lieber	2002	5	21	7.25	141.0
    David Wells	2003	5	30	5.05	213.0
    David Wells	2004	5	31	5.05	195.6
    Rick Reed		2001	4	32	4.58	202.3
    Steve Woodard	1998	4	26	4.09	165.6
    John Burkett	1997	3	30	4.63	189.3
    Brad Radke	2003	3	33	4.29	212.3
    David Bush	2006	2	32	4.37	210.0
    Jon Lieber	2004	2	27	5.67	176.6
    Jamie Shields	2008	1	20	4.33	129.3
    Javier Vazquez	2005	0	33	4.17	215.6
    David Wells	2005	-1	30	5.10	184.0
    Jon Lieber	2006	-5	27	4.17	168.0
    Greg Maddux	2007	-5	34	4.16	198.0
    Eric Milton	2002	-9	29	4.03	171.0
    

    As you can see, since 1996, roughly 95% of the time, when a starting pitcher posts a K/BB ratio of 4.5+, he’s going to have a good season. So, with this “command” (K/BB) rate that Mussina is featuring this season, it makes sense that he’s having a good season.

    Now, the question is: Can Moose repeat this magic in 2009?

    Well, according to my research, in the entire history of modern day baseball – meaning since 1900 – there’s only been one pitcher, ever, age 39 or older, to have consecutive seasons of 20+ starts with a K/BB ratio of 4.5+…and that’s David Wells (who did it from 2003 through 2005).

    Can Mike Mussina match Wells’ feat – by doing what he’s doing now again next season? He might…he just might…but, it’s not a lock. If Moose was eight to ten years younger, I’d like his chances to repeat his performance. But, at his age, it’s probably a coin flip as to whether or not he can repeat this “command” again in 2009.

    Comments on The Magic Moose

    1. DJ21996
      July 20th, 2008 | 8:06 am

      Thats exactly why you let him walk. Get the 2 draft picks ( hopefully ) and say thank you for 8 quality years.

      I think he has more good years in him though. Especially in the National League.
      Mussina pitching for Torre or in San Diego could be interesting.

    2. July 20th, 2008 | 8:36 am

      At this stage of his career, and given the age of his kids, I don’t think Mussina would ever play for a West Coast team. If anything, for him, I think it’s Yankees or Phillies – or, maybe, if we really wants the cash and the career wins, the Mets or Indians too. Maybe there’s a wild shot that he would pull a Cone or Wells and go to Boston. But, I don’t think the Red Sox really need him now.

    3. OldYanksFan
      July 20th, 2008 | 8:58 am

      If Moose does have another good year in him, we might be talking about 280 career wins instead of the mid 260s. For a borderline HOFer, those extra dozen+ Wins are big. So I think Moose wants to go another year.

      My guess is the comfort of staying on the Yankees would outweigh a few million extra, and he would give the Yankees a very good deal for one more year (ala Bernie).

      So really the questions are:
      How do Phil and IPK perform the rest of this year?
      Is Andy a good option for 2009?
      Aside from Horne, what other Kids are SPs, and will they be viable fopr 2009?

      It almost NEVER hurts to have a little extra pitching. Even a 4.75 ERA/160 IP pitcher may be valuable as insurance next year.

      My bet is next year Moose is wearing Pinstripes.

    4. July 23rd, 2008 | 4:59 pm

      [...] of peak performance…today, the Moose Magic [...]

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