Mike Mussina

Mussina is the only pitcher in American League history to win at least 10 games in 17 consecutive seasons. He won at least 15 in 11 of those seasons, culminating with his first 20-win campaign in his final season in 2008. Unfortunately for “Moose” he never won the elusive World Series ring, losing three times in the League Championship Series with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, and in the Fall Classic with the Yankees in 2001, 2003. The season after Mussina retired the Bombers won the World Series.

Mussina used a fastball, changeup, and slider (his best pitch) to keep batters off balance. His slider was so good that it dove in one left-handers and he actually held LHB’s to a lower batting average and power numbers than RHB’s during his career. Mussina was also an excellent fielder, earning seven Gold Glove Awards. He rounded out his game by being one of the toughest pitchers to run against, utilizing a quick move to first base.

Pitching for good teams, Mussina racked up very good win percentages, only once having a losing season after his initial rookie campaign. After inking a free agent deal with the Yankees in 2001, Mussina posted a 123-72 (.631) record, which was actually slightly worse than his mark with the O’s (147-81, .645). With the Orioles, the righty was a workhorse, completing 45 games and tossing at least 200 innings seven times. In New York, Mussina threw only 12 complete games in eight seasons and became more of a 6-7 inning pitcher.

Mussina was one of the best pitchers in the league year after year and he had nasty stuff. On May 30, 1997, with the Orioles, Mussina retired the first 25 batters in a game against the Indians before allowing a single. He finished with a one-hitter. The next season on August 4, 1998, he set down the first 23 Detroit batters he faced before allowing a hit. On September 2, 2001, Mussina retired 26 consecutive Red Sox batters to start the game, before Carl Everett singled to center to break up the perfect game bid. Mussina again finished with a one-hitter, this time with 13 strikeouts. Despite these close calls, Mussina never pitched a perfect game or a no-hitter in his career.

In nine post-seasons, Mussina had mixed success. In the 1997 American League Championship Series he baffled the Cleveland Indians in his two starts, allowing just four hits and one run in 15 innings. However, he did not receive a decision in either game and the Orioles lost the series. He lost two games to the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS before turning it around to win his only start against Florida in the World Series. After a 4-1 record with a 2.28 ERA in his first eight post-season starts, Mussina went 3-7 with a 4.18 ERA in his last 15 post-season appearances (two in relief).