Normally, recipients of $88.5 million contracts don't go underrated, but Mike Mussina wasn't like most pitchers.
"Moose" was more cerebral than instinctive, more intellectual than physical. Often condemned for what was perceived as snootiness, Mussina was just more reserved than other players. But when it came to his performance on the mound, his actions often spoke volumes.
Mussina was nothing if not consistent; he won at least 10 games in an American League-record 17 consecutive seasons. As the Yankees rotation endured monumental changes, from the departure of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to the arrival of Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes to the return of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, Mussina was a rock, always there, always giving it his all.
Of all the starts that stick out during Mussina's Yankee years, his most noteworthy appearance was arguably one that came in relief. During Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox, Mussina pitched out of a bases-loaded, no out jam without relinquishing a run, keeping the Yankees deficit at 4-0 and allowing his team to eventually come back to win the game and reach the 39th World Series in franchise history.
Later in his career, Mussina was forced to adjust his pitching style, as his once-potent fastball suffered a steep decline in velocity. Mussina responded brilliantly, finishing the 2008 season with his first 20-win campaign. He decided to retire after that year, leaving him 30 wins shy of 300 (and a likely automatic Hall of Fame berth) and rendering his Yankees tenure sandwiched in between championship seasons (2000 and 2009).