The ballot for the 2013 Hall of Fame candidates has been released and while much of the talk has centered on “steroid guys” Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, there is for the first time a player on the ballot who could actually make it to Cooperstown and spent a significant part of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sorry, Roberto Alomar appearing in 38 games in 2004 just doesn’t quite cut it. That would of course be pitcher Curt Schilling, who helped lead the D’Backs to their only World Series title in 2001. The question is, will Schilling gain entrance on his first try or will it take a few years? Or, should he even be elected to the Hall?
I don’t think Schilling gets in this year as it seems that momentum is favoring Jack Morris. The writers will likely not induct any of the three previous names mentioned this year as to not reward them with “first ballot status” given their tainted reputations. In fact, some may never vote them in. So that leads us back to this: is Curt Schilling a a Hall of Fame pitcher? It is certainly an interesting case. His career record of 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA is not overwhelming. Keep in mind, though that he pitched on some horrid Philadelphia Phillies teams and finishing a career 70 games over .500 for a pitcher who played on bad teams is pretty impressive. We can also take a look at his dominant years. Schilling pitched in parts of 20 seasons in the Major Leagues. I would classify six of them as dominant (1992, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2004). He finished second three times and fourth once for the Cy Young Award and was selected to six All-Star teams. He won 20 games three times and led the league in victories in both the American and National League. He led the NL in complete games four times and was tops in strikeouts and innings pitched twice. Schilling and Randy Johnson are the last two pitchers to strike out 300 batters in a season (2002).
It is the postseason where Schilling’s case gets a big boost. He was a member of three different World Series teams, playing in it a total of four times. He was on the winner’s side three times, once with the D’Backs (winning a co-MVP with Johnson) and the other two with the Boston Red Sox. His record in the playoffs is a sparkling 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA. The winning percentage of .846 is the highest percentage of any pitcher in history with at least ten decisions. On the biggest stage of them all, the Fall Classic, the record is 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA. Schilling is arguably the best big-game pitcher of the last 30 years, on par or better than Morris and John Smoltz.
So will he ever get in? It is such a tough call. You would like to see better regular season numbers and the fact he won 20 games only three times with a career total of 216 would normally keep a guy like that out. However, the postseason numbers are Hall of Fame worthy and though he had only six truly outstanding years, they were spread out over 13 seasons. In addition, he helped end the Red Sox’ “curse”, no small feat. I compare Schilling to Kirby Puckett. Neither one had ten dominant seasons but both were at their best in October. When making that comparison, Curt Schilling deserves a spot in Cooperstown.
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