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Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer?

Former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling finally announced his retirement Monday after a 20-year career with the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox. He won 20 games three times and finished a career record of 216-146 with 3,116 strikeouts.

He played important roles on three World Series Champions, and will always be known for his amazing performance in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS with a severely injured ankle and subsequent bloody sock. But, the burly right hander never won a Cy Young Award, and finished well shy of 300 wins. Does he deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown? Or, was he good but not good enough to be a Hall of Famer? SoB’s Jeff and Mike debate.

Mike: Put Curt in the Hall
Curt Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame because HOFers are the top echelon among their peers; we cannot compare the numbers and statistics across eras. His 216 wins might seem low since 300 wins is the gold standard for starters, but the last few 300-win pitchers we might ever see have retired or will be retiring soon. Schilling also was a workhorse, completing 83 games (including 20 shutouts), which is 25 more than his nearest adversary, Greg Maddux, when measured over his career as a starter (1992-2008).

His career ERA of 3.46 is probably higher than most would consider Hall-worthy, but he pitched in the biggest offensive era of all time. For each 50 or 60 home run season or every player passing 500 faster than the last, there are pitchers suffering the effects of this. The days of ERAs approaching 1.00 are gone (barring any rule changes).

Schilling struck out 3,116 batters, 14th on the all-time list (one short of Bob Gibson). He also had three 300-strikeout seasons, a feat accomplished by only 36 other pitchers, and two more seasons above 200. During the Schilling era, only Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens struck out more.  Only Martinez’ strikeout rate bettered Schilling’s 8.59 K/9IP. Schilling sports a 4.38 strikeout to walk ratio, which is the best all time, which led to his 1.137 WHIP, behind only Pedro and Maddux over his career.

Curt never won a Cy Young Award, but was in contention a number of times: second in 2004 to Johan Santana; second to teammate Randy Johnson in 2001 and 2002, and fourth in 1997 to Pedro Martinez.

Curt Schilling was also THE guy you wanted to hand the ball to in the playoffs. He has won the fifth-most career postseason games, though he had more opportunities with more teams and more rounds. He also helped three teams win the World Series: 2001 Diamondbacks, 2004 & 2007 Red Sox. He was part of the team that made the Diamondbacks the quickest team in any sport to win a championship from inception and was critical to Reversing the Curse in Boston.

Curt Schilling was one of the top pitchers of his time, an era including Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Johan Santana. He compares favorably to this group which should put him in the Hall.

Jeff: Keep Curt Out of the Hall
216 wins. 3.46 career ERA. ZERO Cy Young Awards.

Curt Schilling is not a Hall of Famer. Period. Schilling will be known for the ‘bloody’ sock, his post-season success in 2001 and 2004, and the fact that he currently has the best post-season winning percentage in the history of Major League Baseball. The requirements to be chosen for the Hall of Fame – at least for pitchers – is a very gray line, however there are a few career marks which stamp a certain Hall of Fame career.

Curt Schilling finished with 216 career wins in the regular season. It’s a fair argument to point out that wins aren’t completely in a pitchers control, however the magic number for the Hall, 300, isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Schilling’s career numbers (his career win total is 30 fewer than Jamie Moyer and three fewer than Kenny Rogers). One can argue that neither Moyer nor Rogers have had the same post-season success, but no one would ever mention either of those guys for Hall of Fame contention.

Schilling has never won the Cy Young award and has always possessed a mediocre ERA. Since his debut season in 1988, Schilling has finished with an ERA lower than 3.00 just four times and has finished in the top 5 for a season in ERA just four times. If wins aren’t completely controlled by a pitcher, ERA certainly is.

Another important statistic is the number of 20-win seasons, a feat Schilling only completed three times in his career, the first coming when he was 35 years old. His largest win totals came on incredible teams such as the ’01 D-Backs and the fate-driven ’04 Red Sox.

While his performance in the 2001 post-season and World Series probably ranks in the top 5 in history, Schilling only has four other starts in World Series games, his last two of which he only tossed a total of 11.1 innings.

His inflated playoff win total is thanks in large part to the high number of post-season games. Don Larsen – who threw a perfect game in the World Series – and other pitching greats such as Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson could have wracked up massive amounts of post-season wins if they didn’t go straight to the World Series. Truth be told, while many point to Schilling’s post-season performance as proof enough that he should be enshrined, there are still four players with more post-season wins, including Roger Clemens.

Those are just the statistics of the matter and doesn’t take into account the other factors which could potentially affect a voter’s decision, including the way Schilling treats the media and the perception of his love of the limelight. Putting all of that aside, a Hall of Famer must stand out in both statistics and the impact he had on the generation he played in.

40 years from now, Curt Schilling will be remembered not as the dominant pitcher of the generation, but rather a bloody sock and With his low career win total, mediocre ERA (most of which came in the National League) and a shelf containing as many Cy Young Awards as I have, Curt Schilling should be remembered as a very good post-season pitcher, not as a Hall of Famer.

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6 comments for “Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer?”

  1. I think he’s gonna be a “Bert Blyleven” type candidate. Good enough for consideration but won’t make it.

    Posted by Dave | March 26, 2009, 2:34 pm
  2. Dave, I think you’re right on. He’s going to have his detractors and supporters and I don’t think he’ll ever get the 75% needed.

    Posted by Mike | March 26, 2009, 7:13 pm
  3. Id voe for curt….and dave roberts too!:)

    Posted by lokesh | March 28, 2009, 4:45 am
  4. Look at what he did on mediocre teams, and you’ll see he’s no HOFer

    Posted by Ryan | October 20, 2009, 7:22 pm
  5. If Jack Morris cannot get in then how can Curt…here’s an idea — elect Blyleven, Morris and Schiilling then there would bee no argument.

    Posted by James | January 17, 2010, 8:42 am
  6. I wholeheartedly agree with Jeff. I was fortunate to see most of Schilling’s best years (regular season) in Philadelphia. Yes, he was dominate in the post season. But if that was the sole criteria for induction, Marty Bystrom (1980 Phillies) would be a shoe-in due for his dominating performance in the ’80 World Series. If Schilling had 250 or more wins, he would be considered worhty of such an accolade. Schilling is a ‘legend in his own mind’ and does not deserve recognition.

    Posted by Emeril Lagasse | February 22, 2011, 1:55 pm

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