Who had the better career....?

BaseballJones

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For various reasons, these four are the four that I want to compare. Who do you all think had the better career, and why? If you could choose one of these guys' MLB careers, which one would you have picked, and why?

(a) Mike Mussina
(b) Curt Schilling
(c) Andy Pettitte
(d) David Cone

All essentially contemporaries (considerable overlap, anyway).

Mussina (1991-2008)
- RS: 3562.2 ip, 270-153 (.638), 3.68 era, 3.57 fip, 123 era+, 1.20 whip, 7.1 k/9, 82.8 bWAR
- PS: 139.2 ip, 7-8 (.467), 3.42 era, 1.10 whip, 9.3 k/9
- 0 CYA, 5x All-Star
- 0 WS champion
- Hall of Famer

Schilling (1988-2007)
- RS: 3261.0 ip, 216-146 (.597), 3.46 era, 3.23 fip, 127 era+, 1.14 whip, 8.6 k/9, 80.5 bWAR
- PS: 133.1 ip, 11-2 (.846), 2.23 era, 0.97 whip, 8.1 k/9
- 0 CYA, 6x All-Star
- 3x WS champion, 1x WS MVP

Pettitte (1995-2013)
- RS: 3316.0 ip, 256-153 (.626), 3.85 era, 3.74 fip, 117 era+, 1.35 whip, 6.6 k/9, 60.6 bWAR
- PS: 276.2 ip, 19-11 (.633), 3.81 era, 1.30 whip, 6.0 k/9
- 0 CYA, 3x All-Star
- 5x WS champion

Cone (1986-2003)
- RS: 2898.2 ip, 194-126 (.606), 3.46 era, 3.57 fip, 121 era+, 1.26 whip, 8.3 k/9, 61.6 bWAR
- PS: 111.1 ip, 7-2 (.778), 3.80 era, 1.36 whip, 7.6 k/9
- 1 CYA, 5x All-Star
- 5x WS champion
 

RIrooter09

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Mussina. He pitched the majority of his career in the AL East during the height of the steroid era.
 

ifmanis5

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Other than Roger's friend, the strike hurt these guys and took out a prime year of their career. I'd prefer to be a WS hero like Schilling but not the person he turned out to be.
 

Ale Xander

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Schilling, mainly because of the K/BB rate. Rings don't hurt either (compared to Mussina). Judging on on the field performance only.

I think there's a large gap between 2 (Moose) and 3.
 

BaseballJones

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I feel like the right answer is Mussina. Although he is the guy with the fewest big time postseason moments.
Each guy has his own merits, I think, which is what makes this kind of conversation fun. To me, the argument for and against each guy...

Mussina
- For: Already a HOFer. Most wins (and yeah we know wins are not necessarily indicative of ability and performance, but damn, 270 wins is a LOT of wins). Excellent postseason numbers in terms of era, whip, and k/9. And @RIrooter09 made a good point about the steroid era. Also, the most bWAR of the group.
- Against: Zero CYAs. And zero WS titles. Didn't have many "signature" moments, despite a HOF career. Never, not once, was he the best pitcher in his league at any point in his career, even during his best seasons.

Schilling
- For: Legendary big-game pitcher. Bloody sock. Incredible postseason numbers. A true, old-fashioned horse. WS MVP. Elite WHIP numbers. More AS appearances than anyone else on this list.
- Against: Not as many wins as you'd expect, given his longevity. Not as good a winning % as well. Never won a CYA.

Pettitte
- For: Steady and solid for a long, long time. 256 wins is a ton. Outstanding postseason resumé. 276.2 career postseasons innings pitched - are you KIDDING me?? That's insane. And did so in outstanding fashion. Won an ALCS MVP. 5x WS winner, and he had a lot to do with those - didn't just ride other peoples' coattails.
- Against: Never even close to the best pitcher in his league at any point. 0 CYAs. "Only" 3 all-star appearances. Fewest bWAR in the group.

Cone
- For: Perfect game was legendary. 5x all-star. 5x WS champion. Only member of this group to win a CYA. A bunch of signature moments.
- Against: "Only" 194 wins. Postseason stats worse than his regular season stats (only guy in the group that could be said for). Didn't log nearly as many innings as the other three.

I think it's really hard to pick. (which is one reason I put them all together)
 

GoJeff!

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Seems like Schilling easily. The fact that this is even a question indicates how crappy his post baseball life/image has become.

I can see an argument that Mussina is better, but Schilling has much better moments and a few standout starts. The other two are not close.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I hate that I actually like a MFY more than a Red Sox post-season hero that helped to bring a WS to Boston after 86 years and I'm pretty sure that if Mussina was on the '04 they would still have won though.
As just a pitcher though.... unfortunately Schilling is the best and should end up in the HoF. The other 3 are borderline with Mussina likely just on the "in" side.
 

Kliq

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The stats in the opening post speak for themselves, Schilling had the best career and was also a phenomenal post-season pitcher. He's hurt a bit in wins and win percentage because those mid to late 90's Philadelphia teams were trash. All of these guys also suffer from peaking while Pedro/Maddux/Johnson were in their prime and Clemens' second wave.

In 1997 Schilling had a FIP of 2.62 and struck out 319, and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, behind two incredible Pedro/Maddux seasons and somehow Denny Neagle. In 2002 Schilling went 23-7, struck out 316, had a FIP of 2.40 and a WHIP of .0968, and wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team (The Big Unit, with an ERA+ of 195 and 334 Ks, 10.7 WAR).
 

jmm57

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If you take the off field stuff away it’s clearly Schilling, people just hate him so much now. Mussina is close, but I think clearly behind Schilling.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I hate that I actually like a MFY more than a Red Sox post-season hero that helped to bring a WS to Boston after 86 years and I'm pretty sure that if Mussina was on the '04 they would still have won though.
As just a pitcher though.... unfortunately Schilling is the best and should end up in the HoF. The other 3 are borderline with Mussina likely just on the "in" side.
If Moose had signed with the Sox instead of the Yankees, 2003 might have turned out differently, let alone 2004.

To the OP question, I lean toward saying Mussina, but it is close between he and Schilling. I say Mussina in part because of his durability and spending his entire career in the AL East. He never missed time with a significant injury and while Schilling was facing the pitcher 3 times a start, Moose had to deal some potent lineups across the AL. Not just the Red Sox and Yankees and Blue Jays, but the Indians and Rangers and White Sox boasted some formidable offenses.
 

BaseballJones

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Just as a point of clarification...I asked who had the better career, not who was the better pitcher. I think we'd all pretty much agree that Schilling was the best pitcher of the group. Here were their respective best seasons:

Mussina (1992): 241.0 ip, 18-5, 2.54 era, 3.19 fip, 157 era+, 1.08 whip, 4.9 k/9, 8.2 bWAR
Schilling (2001): 256.2 ip, 22-6, 2.98 era, 3.11 fip, 157 era+, 1.08 whip, 10.3 k/9, 8.8 bWAR
Pettitte (2005): 222.1 ip, 17-9, 2.39 era, 3.07 fip, 177 era+, 1.03 whip, 6.9 k/9, 6.8 bWAR
Cone (1988): 231.1 ip, 20-3, 2.22 era, 2.58 fip, 171 era+, 1.12 whip, 8.3 k/9, 5.5 bWAR

But best *career* may be a different thing. It may still be Schilling, but I think best career is a little different question than best pitcher.
 

brs3

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These guys are similar, but Schilling unquestionably picked it up a notch in the postseason again and again, giving him a clear edge IMO. 2.23 ERA in 133 innings, 2.06 ERA in 48 WS innings. He's tossed 2 shutouts in postseason play, including 1in the World Series. And he did a lot of it in his mid to late 30s and at 40.
 

luckiestman

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If I take away rooting interest, the most enjoyable guys to watch were Schil, Cone, Moose, AP. The first 3 are close, I did not enjoy AP.

Cone is the funniest guy of the group so that probably added to my enjoyment of watching him.

iirc, Mussina was more imposing when on the Os but I did not watch a lot of those games.
 

RGREELEY33

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I would agree with others that Schilling is the best of that group, and it isn't particularly close when you factor in the postseason heroics.

Pettite and Cone are not really in the same conversation as Mussina and Schilling, and if Mussina is a Hall of Famer, then Schilling should go in yesterday.
 

drleather2001

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That's an alternate reality I always wonder about.
The Sox signed Manny as a Plan B after losing out on the Mussina sweepstakes, so it's a fairly complicated think-piece. The Sox ultimately signed Nomo as their "big" 2000 offseason pitcher acquisition (hey, he threw a no hitter!) about a week after Mussina signed with the Yanks, but less directly I wonder if, had they gotten Mussina, Derek Lowe ever gets converted back to being a starter.

And I don't know who they get in place of Manny. My hunch is they sign Ken Caminiti on a 2 year deal like the one he signed with Texas.
 
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bankshot1

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Schilling was the best pitcher of the four, but in terms of career, Pettite being an integral part of 5-championship teams, and in general being a very relaible post-season starter, and often (IIRC) pitching the 2nd game in post-season series after the MFY's lost the 1st game is going under appreciated. He showed up BIG in the post-season.
 
The Sox signed Manny as a Plan B after losing out on the Mussina sweepstakes, so it's a fairly complicated think-piece. The Sox ultimately signed Nomo as their "big" 2000 offseason pitcher acquisition (hey, he threw a no hitter!) about a week after Mussina signed with the Yanks, but less directly I wonder if, had they gotten Mussina, Derek Lowe ever gets converted back to being a starter.

And I don't know who they get in place of Manny. My hunch is they sign Ken Caminiti on a 2 year deal like the one he signed with Texas.
To further extend it, if they had signed Bernie Williams after 1998 and Mike Mussina after 2000, instead of Manny, and went forward with Williams and Mussina.
The late 1990s/early 2000s were an interesting time.
 

drleather2001

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To further extend it, if they had signed Bernie Williams after 1998 and Mike Mussina after 2000, instead of Manny, and went forward with Williams and Mussina.
The late 1990s/early 2000s were an interesting time.
Not to derail but Bernie was never going to sign with Boston. He used Boston as leverage to get more money out of Steinbrenner.
 

BaseballJones

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Schilling was the best pitcher of the four, but in terms of career, Pettite being an integral part of 5-championship teams, and in general being a very relaible post-season starter, and often (IIRC) pitching the 2nd game in post-season series after the MFY's lost the 1st game is going under appreciated. He showed up BIG in the post-season.
Pettitte's career was incredibly good and successful. He was never the best pitcher in the league, and rarely even the best pitcher on his team. But he had a tremendous career. 3x all star, 5x WS winner, 256 wins (we all know wins is a flawed stat but it says something when you have racked up 256 of them)....the guy was very very impressive when all is said and done.
 

donutogre

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I'll readily recognize that Petttite wasn't as good as Mussina or Schilling -- but man, I really enjoy watching pitchers who are durable and reliable. He's not the kind of guy who would lead a rotation, but he's the kind of second starter that I always want the Sox to have. Lucky right now to have a top two of Sale and Price for sure, but (Yankees nonsense aside) Pettitte is the kind of guy I'd happy to have in the rotation for years.
 

Old Fart Tree

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There’s not a planet in this galaxy where Pettitte is nearly as good as Schilling.
Yeah, but we didn't say "who was better." We said "who had the better career." I feel like I'm giving Schilling a lot of credit for 2004, being one of the 25, etc. It's not unreasonable IMHO to give Pettitte credit for winning a whole bunch of rings. That's a pretty damn good career.
 

drleather2001

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Take away the postseason heroics and Pettitte still had a career about like Tim Hudson’s. That’s pretty solid. It’s not like the guy was a tagalong in those Yankees teams.

That being said, yeah he wasn’t anyone that ever dazzled me (though bias is a thing).
 

InstaFace

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Yeah, but we didn't say "who was better." We said "who had the better career." I feel like I'm giving Schilling a lot of credit for 2004, being one of the 25, etc. It's not unreasonable IMHO to give Pettitte credit for winning a whole bunch of rings. That's a pretty damn good career.
Then how do you get to Mussina being clearly the best of the lot?
 

InstaFace

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In 2002 Schilling went 23-7, struck out 316, had a FIP of 2.40 and a WHIP of .0968, and wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team (The Big Unit, with an ERA+ of 195 and 334 Ks, 10.7 WAR).
Those were some pretty hard-luck 7 losses.
 

BuellMiller

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Yes, Cone was the only one with 1 CYA, but Schilling was the only one with more than one top 2 finish (he had three 2nds: 2001, 2002, 2004). No shame in losing to Randy Johnson two times in a row (when RJ had bWAR>10 in each season), and then losing to peak Johan Santana in 2004.
And his postseason numbers are even more impressive if you take away that Game 1 start in the 2004 ALCS when his ankle was all kinds of messed up. (eg ERA drops from 2.23 to 1.86)
 

jon abbey

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Then how do you get to Mussina being clearly the best of the lot?
I looked for some Mussina discussion, this odd factoid just clicked with me:

1996-2000 NY wins 4 of 5 WS
2001-2008 Mussina is a Yankee, then retires after a 20 win season
2009 NY wins again

So 5 out of 6 without cranky Mike for NY in that 14 year period, 0 of 8 with him. We all remember the spectacular game 3 in OAK in 2001 and the 3 innings in relief in game 7 in 2003, both of which kept incredible seasons alive for another round or two but Schilling/Johnson and then Beckett/young Miggy kept Mussina from ever winning it all.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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I looked for some Mussina discussion, this odd factoid just clicked with me:

1996-2000 NY wins 4 of 5 WS
2001-2008 Mussina is a Yankee, then retires after a 20 win season
2009 NY wins again

So 5 out of 6 without cranky Mike for NY in that 14 year period, 0 of 8 with him.
I believe that's referred to as Mankins Syndrome. 0 championships in 9 seasons with him, 6 championships in the last 9 seasons without him.
 
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Strictly from a mound-based perspective, it’s Schilling and not close. There were times he was the best pitcher in the world, or, at worst, 1b. behind Randy Johnson. He could transcend. Mussina couldn’t.
 

Leskanic's Thread

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I know the original discussion is months old, but seeing it now after the recent bump has me thinking about each of these four had off-the-field situations that, if factored into the "which career would you want to have?" question, might tip the scales.

Pettitte admitted to HGH usage and ended up testifying against his best bud teammate. Maybe he was correct when saying he only used once, but having to admit to it has tarnished his reputation and will keep him out of the hall until/unless there's a major PED reckoning.

Cone allegedly lured a couple women into the bullpen at Shea Stadium and did his best Louis C.K. impression in front of them. Mostly not thought about, but something that would lead to a likely cancellation if it ever comes back to the public consciousness.

Schilling's issues post-career are obviously well documented; but his "red light" reputation during his career created some enemies in clubhouses, and his treatment of Scott Williamson was notoriously shitty. If you want to wade into political issues, even before his public turn to fascism, his "go Bush!" campaigning during the 2004 victory tour in the media clanged for a lot of people regardless of party. (OK, maybe just of one party...but many felt it was inappropriate at the time.)

This is the flimsiest, but Mussina was widely presumed to be the player in a Peter Gammons blind item saying an MLB pitcher was openly racist. This one has the least traction, since people contested the characterization, and obviously it hasn't kept him out of the Hall. But still a bit of a millstone to deal with.

Not sure that would change anyone's answer...but given the degree to which the decision may be a coin toss, some of these stories could be deciding factors.
 

InstaFace

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Misconduct and off-field stuff aside, whose career would I want?

Schilling pitched in 5 postseasons as a primary starting pitcher, made 4 WS, won 3 titles and 1 WS co-MVP (and might've been a 2nd start in 2004 from being a strong candidate there too). Let's not underrate breaking Boston's 86-year drought, either, when weighing the question. He was the best pitcher among the 4, with the best control and the best stuff to go with the best stats. And he'll get into the Hall eventually - I'd still bet via BBWAA but if not then certainly via the VC / successor committees. He didn't win a CYA but had 3 Cy-worthy seasons (losing 2 of them to his teammate, a top-5 pitcher of all time, and a closer 2004 vote to Johan Santana).

Mussina was on better teams, but lacked those peak moments. He was the #2 pitcher on the 2001 MFY, the #3 pitcher on the 2003 MFY (started game 3 of the season behind Clemens and Pettitte), and of course was denied the honor of outdueling Pedro in 2004 ALCS Game 5, when Jeter finally got to Petey in the 6th... but never won a title. He was usually the best pitcher on the Orioles, and sometimes the best pitcher on the Yankees, but never really shined as the ace of a great staff, never really got a ton of acclaim, and got plenty of CYA votes but never the award (1x 2nd, 2x 4th, 3x 5th, 3x 6th).

Pettitte and Cone won titles and were good-but-not-legendary pitchers. Cone at least won the 1994 CYA while in KC. Pettitte was perhaps the most-beloved of the 4 by his fanbase. But on consideration I think I'd take Schilling's career over the rest of them. More variety of experience, more peaks to his career, better skills, and of course the championships.
 

BoSox Rule

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Mussina wins the 2001 Cy Young over Clemens if the same season happens 10 years later.
 

crow216

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Here's a fun wrinkle in case this puts either over the edge.

Moose won 7 gold gloves.
Pettitte had a lethal pick off move

Should defense be considered? Not sure because it's already baked into a lot of their numbers.
 

InstaFace

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Pettitte had a lethal pick off move.
Here's another fun wrinkle: he balked every time he did it in his career

Edit: Moose was legitimately athletic, but that's rounding error on a pitcher's skillset.
 
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Ford Frick's Asterisk

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Yeah, I'm not sure which is the bigger joke there – pitchers' Gold Gloves or the legality of Pettitte's pick-off move. Neither one has the credibility to be factored into anything.