With Curt Schilling’s season definitely over — and his career also pretty well done — it’s obviously time to revisit a post I did two years ago, arguing that not only is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer, but it’s not particularly close. What follows is portions of that post, updated for his performance since then. The context was immeditely after Schilling won his 200th game.
There have been more than 16,000 men to ever play the game of baseball professionally. Eighty-one have pitched their way to as many wins as Curt Schilling. It is truly a remarkable accomplishment, particularly in these days of the supercharged offense. Congratulations to Curt, who is a great, great pitcher.
The same year, 2006, that he collected his 200th win, Schilling also struck out his 3,000th batter. But do those feats make him a Hall of Famer? We all know he’s great. But is he one of the greats?
First, here are Curt’s career numbers, with his rank all-time:
G: 569 (207th)
IP: 3,261 (94th)
K: 3,116 (14th)
W: 216 (t-79th)
WHIP: 1.14 (44th)
K/9: 8.60 (13th)
K/BB: 4.38 (2nd)
They’re borderline numbers, as we’ve said. However, every pitcher above Curt Schilling in strikeouts (except Bert Blyleven) is in the Hall of Fame or headed there when they retire. And remember this: Every pitcher with 3,000 strikeouts is in the Hall of Fame, or in the case of Blyleven, should be. The only exceptions: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. Two hundred wins might not be the new 300 wins, but in this high-offense era, it’s clear that 3,000 strikeouts is still a Hall-of-Fame milestone. (And lest you doubt Blyleven’s case for the Hall, click through Baseball Analysts).
Schilling ranks 42nd in career ERA+, at 127 — tied with Tom Seaver and Smoltz, and ahead of Jim Palmer, Lefty Gomez and Juan Marichal. Among those pitchers, only Seaver has more strikeouts than Schilling; only Smoltz is within 500 of him.
Yes, the wins are low, and while wins are not a true indicator of talent, it’s an issue that must be addressed because Hall voters look at them. With 216, Schilling has more wins than Hall of Fame pitchers Stan Coveleski, Chief Bender, Jesse Haines, Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon, Hal Newhouser and Rube Marquard (among others). None of them has even 2,500 strikeouts. Newhouser’s career ERA+: 130; Coveleski’s: 127; Bender: 113; Haines: 108; Drysdale: 121; Lemon: 119; Marquard: 103.
So Schilling has more strikeouts and a similar or better ERA+ than at least 11 Hall of Fame pitchers. He has more wins and a similar or better ERA+ than at least seven Hall of Fame pitchers.
Remembering that this has all been in the steroid era, as well as an era with extreme reliever specialization, Schilling has eight 15-win seasons — three of those 20-win campaigns. He has struck out at least 200 in five years, 300 in three of those. In seasons in which he’s started at least 24 games, Schilling has eight times eclipsed the league-average ERA by at least a third and 11 times by at least 20 percent. He’s a six-time All-Star, has finished second in Cy Young voting three times and twice finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting.
That alone should get him in, even as a borderline candidate, and Bill James seems to agree.
Baseball-Reference uses a Bill James formula to predict Cooperstownability by ascribing points for leading the lead or finishing in the Top 10 in a variety of statistics. In "Black Ink" stats (receiving the bold-faced number meaning you’ve led the league), Schilling receives 40 points, the same as the average Hall-of-Famer gets. In the "HOF Standards" metric, through which points are ascribed for every season with wins over x, ERA below x, etc., Schilling receives below what the average Hall-of-Famer receives. And in the final "HOF Monitor" James metric, players receive points for things that voters typically focus on, such as postseason achievement, etc. In that metric, Schilling blows away the 100-point average Hall of Famer with 151 points.
And that’s before we get to October:
Schilling: 10-2, 2.23 ERA, 133 1/3 IP, 25 BB, 120 K, 3 Rings, 1 Bloody Sock
I’m being flippant about the rings and sock, but those type of things get you remembered for being a great pitcher when it comes down to voting time. How long has Jack Morris been receiving votes because of one great postseason start? Schilling has a World Series and a LCS MVP, not to mention the 2004 starts against NY and St. Louis with the most famous sock in baseball history.
In 2006, I agreed that Schilling was a borderline HOF-er. Now, another World Series ring later, I don’t think it’s even close anymore. With 200+ wins, 3,000+ strikeouts, 2 postseason MVPs and the Bloody Sock, he’ll be in. And he’ll deserve it.