Former Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina has seen his Hall of Fame voting trend upward, increasing nearly 40 percent over the past two years on his fourth time on the ballot.
Mussina, who received just 24.6 percent of the vote in 2015, is polling at 61.7 percent, according to submitted public (and anonymous) ballots that Ryan Thibodaux collected and organized.
While players need 75 percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America's ballot to make The Hall, Mussina's numbers have increased significantly over the past two years, partially due to the BBWAA cutting more than 100 writers' right to vote following the 2015 election. Mussina's numbers jumped 18.4 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Mussina's numbers don't jump out on paper, FanGraphs' Nicholas Stellini notes. He didn't reach the 300-win plateau (270) or the 3,000-strikeout mark (2,813) and didn't win a Cy Young award (best finish was second). He led the league in wins just once and was overshadowed by current Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
But Mussina, who spent his entire 18-year career in the AL East (10 with New York), has comparable numbers in WAR and JAWS to several Hall of Famers, including Martinez, Tom Glavine, and Nolan Ryan. The average Hall of Fame pitcher, according to Baseball-Reference, has a career WAR of 73.9 and a JAWS of 62.1, while Mussina's WAR is 83 and JAWS is 63.8.
Thibodaux estimates he has collected 38.4 percent of all ballots. Currently, Mussina's numbers rank ninth among current polling. Based on Thibodaux's collection, Jeff Bagwell (92.2 percent), Tim Raines (91.6), Ivan Rodriguez (83.2) and Vladimir Guerrero (75.4) would receive the necessary 75 percent of the vote for enshriment.
Trevor Hoffman (73.1), Edgar Martinez (69.5), Barry Bonds (69.5) and Roger Clemens (68.9) all currently have higher percentages than Mussina. Bonds and Clemens received 44.3 and 45.2 percent of the vote, respectively, last year.
The official results will be announced Jan. 18.
Writers are limited to voting for a maximum of 10 players, and some have noted that the ballot has been crowded this year. The average voter, according to Thibodaux, selected 8.89 players for enshrinement, with 103 of 167 known ballots filled out to the max.
Next year's ballot may also be crowded, with Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Omar Vizquel among the players joining the ballot. Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton, Roy Halladay, and Andy Pettitte join the ballot in 2019.
Jack Morris and Gil Hodges are the only players to receive at least 50 percent of the vote but not get selected for enshrinement. Time will tell if Mussina will be on that list as well.
The bright side for Mussina: This is only his fourth appearance on the ballot.