Schilling's Case for Cooperstown

Curt Schilling

Blowhard Hall of Fame? On the first ballot.

Postseason Hall of Fame? No doubt.

Baseball Hall of Fame? Good question.

Curt Schilling has been a borderline Hall of Famer for a while, and his retirement announcement Monday brings the issue to the forefront.

The gut reaction, right now, is that he gets in -- despite frustrating any number of members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who had to deal with him.

Here are some of the key numbers (thanks to

o. .597 winning percentage: same as Warren Spahn, 24th amonth pitchers with 3,000 or more innings.

o. 216 wins: 80th all-time, equal to Charlie Hough but more than Don Drysdale.

o. No Cy Young Awards: But runner-up three times, to teammate Randy Johnson in 2001-02 and to Johan Santana in 2004.

o. 3,116 strikeouts: 15th all-time, one fewer than Pedro Martinez and Bob Gibson.

o. 3.46 ERA, 379th all-time, but better than Tom Glavine and Jack Morris.

Most Postseason Wins
Pitcher Wins
John Smoltz15
Andy Pettitte14
Tom Glavine14
Roger Clemens12
Curt Schilling11
Greg Maddux11
David Wells10
Dave Stewart10
Whitey Ford10
Postseason Win Pct.
(10-plus decisions)
Pitcher WPCT
Curt Schilling.846
John Smoltz.789
Orlando Hernandez.750
David Cone.727
Orel Hershiser.727
Jim Palmer.727
Postseason ERA (100-plus IP)
Pitcher ERA
Mariano Rivera0.77
Christy Mathewson1.06
Curt Schilling2.23
Orlando Hernandez2.55
Orel Hershiser2.59
Source: Boston Red Sox

Something Schlling never got credit for was his excellent command. He had a nasty splitter in his prime and added other pitches here and there, but he was able to live on his his fastball because he studied hitters and was able to pinpont the pitch away from their strengths.

In 2002, Schilling had 316 strikeouts and just 33 walks. His career ratio of 4.38 strikeouts for every walk is best in baseball's modern (post-1900) era. His 1.96 walks per nine innings is fourth-best of the expansion era, after Juan Marichal, Greg Maddux and David Wells.

(Interesting comparison with Wells. ERA is 4.13 for Wells, mostly in AL, and 3.46 for Schlling. Wins are 239 for Wells, 216 for Schilling. Winning percentage is .604 for Wells, .597 for Schilling.)

If Schilling makes Cooperstown -- and I shudder at thinking about his acceptance speech; maybe I hope he'd just blog it -- his postseason performances will push him over the top. And there's nothing wrong with that; October should carry extra weight.

Schilling was dominant in the playoffs in 1993, 2001 and 2004, and overall he was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA as his teams won 10 of 12 series.

And as much as those numbers, it's the memorable performances. Not just the bloody sock in 2004, but making three starts in the 2001 World Series, including Game 7, and winning the NLCS MVP in 1993 (during which he famously covered his head with a towel instead of watching Mitch Williams nearly blow Game 5).

Because the system forces us to wait five years after a player's career to vote -- nearly four years from now in Schilling's case, since he didn't play in 2008 -- it gives voters time to re-examine the landscape and time for the standards to evolve. That seems to be happening more rapidly than ever in the wake of performance-enhancing drug scandal.

Schilling's Case for Cooperstown originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Mon, 23 Mar 2009 14:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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