Why Curt Schilling Belongs In Cooperstown: Part II
In November of 2012, I wrote a piece about the Hall of Fame candidacy and worthiness of former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling, where I (incorrectly) predicted that Schilling would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Here we are four years later, and I make the same case.
Curt Schilling deserves induction in 2017, and here's why:
During his 20-year career, Schilling amassed just 216 career wins against 146 losses. He never won a Cy Young Award (a victim of the steroid era). But his numbers still pop out of the page at you. He finished third in Strikeout to Walk ratio, his 3,116 strikeouts rank 15th all-time. His pitching WAR, according to an article by Deadspin writer Tim Marchman, is on par with Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. A six-time All-Star, Schilling led the National League in strikeouts in 1997 and 1998, and also led Major League Baseball in wins during the 2001 and 2004 seasons. In 1993, Schilling earned the NLCS MVP award by pitching to a 1.69 ERA with 19 strikeouts over two games. In 2001, he posted a 22-6 record with a 2.96 ERA as the Arizona Diamondbacks went on to defeat the New York Yankees in what many people consider to be among the greatest World Series of all time, and what I consider to be one of the worst days of my childhood. Schilling's postseason success that year, including going 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA and winning his only decision, led to him being named the World Series Co-MVP along with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Schilling won 23 games the following year.
After a sub-par 2003 season, Schilling signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he broke my heart again. He posted a 21-6 record and led the league with a league-leading .778 winning percentage. His 21 wins also led the league. During the playoffs, Schilling won his only start against the Angels in the ALDS. Then came his magical performance in the ALCS against the Yankees. After a disastrous Game 1, Schilling famously pitched Game 6 on his injured ankle, where he hurled seven strong innings, giving up just a single run on four hits with four strikeouts. He was the runner-up for the American League Cy Young Award. His 2005 season was spent recovering from his injuries as he posted an unimpressive 5-5 record with a 5.69 ERA. He rebounded in 2006, starting the season 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA, and finishing the season 15-7 with a 3.97 ERA. In his final season, he went 9-8 with a 3.97 ERA before retiring due to age and injuries. On June 7, 2007, he came within one out of a no-hitter. During the four-year period from 2001-2004, arguably his most dominant stretch, Schilling was 74-28 with a 3.11 ERA. By comparison, Randy Johnson went 67-33 with a 2.70 ERA during that same time period. His 2.06 ERA in the World Series is the third lowest of a pitcher in the World Series, behind Bob Gibson (1.89) and Sandy Koufax (0.94). His 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings among pitchers with 3,000 or more innings ranks third, behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, and Sandy Koufax.
Schilling led the league in Games Started in 1997, 1998, and 2001, in winning percentage in 2004. He led the league in WHIP during both the 1992 and 2002 seasons.
Schilling was never the "best" pitcher in the league. He finished as the runner-up for the Cy Young Award three times and finished fourth in 1997. He only won 216 games over 20 years, three fewer than Pedro Martinez did in 18 years. Nevertheless, his numbers speak for themselves. For a period of time, Schilling was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and as someone who watched him repeatedly dominate to postseason when the games matter the most, I am adamant that Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer.