Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Curt Schilling: Hall-of-Famer?

I had been planning to write about this, but ESPN's Jayson Stark makes all the arguments I would have made much better. Here's Stark's essay; click on the link to read some great debate between Stark and emailers afterward.

Monday's topic, courtesy of Nelson from Portland:

"There's only one logical question for this week. Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer? I am a huge Sox fan and big Schill supporter. However, I have to say no. The numbers just are not there."

On a November morning five years from now, the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot will show up in my mailbox. And on that ballot, I'll find the kind of name that makes Hall voting so rewarding--and so impossible:

Curt Schilling.

Nelson from Portland says he isn't Hall of Fame worthy. Me? I'm not so sure of that. So let's take a look at Schilling's fascinating Hall of Fame credentials.


If you base your Hall decisions just on the old wins column, you won't vote for this man. That seems obvious. His 216 wins are 72 fewer than Tommy John, 71 fewer than Bert Blyleven and 38 fewer than Jack Morris. And none of those guys had a plaque last time I checked.

For that matter, if Schilling has thrown his last pitch, he'll also wind up with fewer wins than Joe Niekro (221) or Dennis Martinez (245). And neither of those guys even made it to a second year on the ballot. So clearly, that's what Nelson is referring to when he says "The numbers just are not there."


Ah, but it depends which numbers you're looking at. And I looked at bunch of other numbers--numbers that rank all righthanded starters from 1992, the year Schilling first moved into the starting rotation in Philadelphia, through 2007, the year he apparently threw his final pitch in Boston. Here's what I found:

Schilling not only led all of them in complete games (with 83), but only one other righthander in the whole sport (Greg Maddux) was closer than 25 CGs away. Just Pedro Martinez had a better strikeout ratio than Schilling (8.59 K/9). Only Pedro and Roger Clemens had more strikeouts than Schilling (3,116) , period. Just Pedro and Maddux had a better WHIP than Schilling (1.137). And nobody had a better strikeout-walk ratio. In fact, Schilling's K/BB ratio (4.38 whiffs for every walk) ranks No. 1 among ALL PITCHERS IN THE MODERN ERA.

So how compelling are those numbers? And I haven't even mentioned October yet--the month in which he did his finest work of all.

Schill has been my favorite active baseball player for 15 years (my fave all-time being Mike Schmidt), and the fact that his marvelous career might have ended with a whimper of shoulder surgery breaks my heart. Today's news on that front is good; the surgery went well and he may be able to start throwing by winter. But even if he's thrown his last pitch he can have no regrets.

I wonder if he's thought about which cap his Hall of Fame bust should wear.

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