The 2013 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class is one for the ages. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro highlight the first major group of synthetically-enhanced superstars to reach the ballot since the introduction of steroid testing in baseball. There are several names on the list that I would include, but one that I struggle with is that of Curt Schilling.
Schilling was a six-time All-Star and he won 216 games in his 20-year career. A three-time World Series champion, Schilling shared the spotlight in rotations with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez in his career, finishing second in Cy Young voting to both, while finishing second a third time to Johan Santana.
With Roger Clemens and his 354 wins and seven Cy Youngs on the ballot, how can anyone look at Schilling as a Hall of Famer?
Schilling compares more favorably to Jack Morris. Morris was a five-time All-Star and he won 254 games in his 18-year career. Morris was also a three-time World Series champion and he, also never won a Cy Young award. Schilling received Cy Young votes in four seasons (1997, 2001, 2002, 2004), while Morris received votes in seven season (1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992).
Morris is not in the Hall of Fame. He has more wins, he had more seasons where he earned appreciation for his success on the field, and he is still waiting for his enshrinement in Cooperstown after being eligible for the first time in 2000.
Schilling may get a lot of credit due to his bloody sock, his dominating strikeout totals, and his personality, but how great was he?
The bigger question is: How great COULD he have been? Schilling missed 424 days of baseball due to injuries, but most of those were the shoulder surgery that he had in 2008 (221 days). At this point in his career, Schilling was 41 years old and his once dominant stuff was deminishing, as evidenced by a 6.0 K:9 in 2007 (8.6 career K:9).
Curt Schilling was great for a short period of time. From 1997 through 2004, Schilling was 132-71 with a 3.24 ERA in 1,824.1 innings, while posting a 1,945:345 K:BB. Schilling is the only player in baseball history to reach 3,000 strikeouts while walking fewer than 750 batters. He helped bring a championship to Boston, he was a part of two of the best 1-2 tandems in baseball history with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, and he ran a video game company into the ground in Rhode Island…not that the last one matters.
20 years. 216 wins. Is it enough? It hasn’t been enough for several other players, but Schilling will get a lot of votes on ballots in 2013. You have to wonder if those same voters are marking off Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, Kenny Lofton, Edgar Martinez, and even David Wells, whose 239 wins over 21-seasons warrant consideration.
Is it all about the wins or quality of performance. The WAR values show that Schilling was much more valuable in his career than the players mentioned above, but baseball is a game of numbers. Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer?