HOF Debate - Curt Schilling
Time for another HOF Debate battle with Curt Schilling our subject. Apart from being somewhat controversial with opinions and statements, Schilling is best known for being a gutty, power pitcher that showed flashes of dominance. This is especially true when looking at his post season numbers.
I should preface this by saying that I'm not arguing pro-Schilling because of his tenure with my beloved Phillies. Like many Phils fans, I'm not a huge fan of Schilling and I envision him wearing a Red Sox cap on his shrine in Cooperstown. That being said, I recognize his contributions to baseball. To me, Schilling was made for Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame is about big players that make big plays in big games. Just ask Bert Blyleven how hard it is to get in with great numbers when you don't have those 'it' moments on your resume. Schilling doesn't have a problem bringing up his great moments. The sock game, obviously, but I think about his dominance in the 2001 playoffs with the D'Backs. For me, there might not have been a more defining moment for Schilling than winning co-MVP of that World Series; a series that might have been more memorable than any other in history because of what was going on (9/11) and who they were playing (NYY). The Hall of Fame is about legends and heroes and players that go beyond the numbers and Schilling epitomizes legendary.
In addition to the wow factor and his undeniable legendary status, Schilling had a lot of the numbers required to back up his candidacy. 15th all-time in strikeouts, 2nd in strikeouts to walks and 28th in WAR for pitchers. He led the league in complete games four times and really was dominant in his Prime and great the rest of the time. He doesn't have the wins but I witnessed the Phillies teams he played with early on and he deserved more wins. Say what you want about his arrogance, the guy could pitch. He's one of the legends of the game and he belongs in Cooperatown.
While I recognize his power pitching dominance and post season heroics, I still find myself on the fence with Schilling. If you made me pick a side, I'd lean on the side of not putting him in the HOF. There are a few reasons why I put Schilling just outside of Cooperstown. First, the level of direct competition he faced during his career. He went up against Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Pedro Martinez. All these guys were dominant pretty much their whole careers whereas Schilling didn't really find his form until after age 30 (1993 being the lone outlier of success). As I've said ad nauseum, it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Very Good!
Secondly, his win total (216) does not measure up to many others not in the Hall. Schilling's win total does rival Pedro Martinez, however Pedro coupled his win total with a .687 win percentage good enough for 6th all time (Schilling .597). Schilling's strikeout total (3116) is a telling statistic, and no one that is Hall eligible that has 3000+ strikeouts has missed enshrinement.
Finally, I put Schilling in the category of two other similar pitchers, Jack Morris and Mickey Lolich. Both of them, like Schilling, had very good numbers but not excellent. They all had the post season heroics and dominance, but when you factor in the entire career, they just don't quite make it in my estimation. Indeed, there are pitchers in the Hall that don't deserve to be there, but I'm not in favor of putting guys in just because someone less deserving has already made it.