Schilling and the Hall of Fame

June 21, 2008 |

Just as we did a month ago when John Smoltz announced that he was out for the season, and maybe forever, it is now time to look at the body of work of Curt Schilling to see if he is a Hall of Fame lock, a wanna be, or a borderline guy stuck somewhere in the middle.
I have three comparisons for you, and you tell me if Schilling should be in.
  1. Andy Pettitte: Why does no one talk about Pettitte for the Hall when they talk about Schilling? There numbers are virtually the same. Schilling is 216-146 while Pettitte is 208 and 118. Neither of them won a Cy Young, but both finished as high as second. Schilling won three World Series, but Pettitte won four. And while Pettitte was always surrounded by great pitchers, when Schilling was winning titles, he either had Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, or Josh Beckett by his side. It’s not like he ever lacked for a dance partner. Really, their numbers would imply that they should be close to equals, but everyone talks about Schilling being in, and no one talks about Pettitte.
  2. Jack Morris: He was Curt Schilling ten years earlier. Great post-season reputation (although Schilling’s playoff numbers are certainly better). He was also seen as a winner, having been a part of world champions with three different organizations. He also never won a Cy Young, but he did win 254 games, all of which in the A.L. facing DH’s. While he never had the strikeout numbers that Schilling had, Morris did record 175 complete games. Morris is eligible for the Hall, and his vote totals aren’t close to enshrinement. How do you put Schilling in before Morris?
  3. Bert Blyleven: I blogged in December or January how this is the largest, present-day, Hall of Fame snub. Blyleven should be in. He has 3701 strikeouts, which ranks him fifth all-time. He also has 287 wins. He, too, never won a Cy Young, but he did win two world titles, and he did so playing in baseball outposts like Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Texas, Cleveland and Anaheim. Blyleven had 71 more wins and 585 more strikeouts than Curt. There is no reasonable way that Schilling can get in before Bert. NO REASONABLE WAY! Now, once the writers correct their mistake and Blyleven gets in then we can revisit this, but until then, Schilling should be out.
I know that Schilling has been a great baseball personality. He has etched many images into our minds, from the bloody sock, to sitting in the dugout with a towel over his head when Mitch Williams was trying to save World Series games. Baseball has had many characters though, and I never thought that theatre got you in the Hall of Fame. Kirk Gibson isn’t in, but his World Series bomb of Eckersley is one of the greatest baseball moments of all time. And don’t forget, he won an MVP and titles with two different teams. Should he be in? He’s not, and he’s never been close.
Baseball, more than any other sport, except maybe golf, is about numbers. I’ve always felt that was one of the beauties. In baseball, a number eight hitter like Bill Mueller can win a batting title even though everybody in the world knows that Manny and Ortiz were better hitters on his own team. No one would have voted for Bill Mueller as the league’s best hitter, but he won the title because the numbers don’t care about personality or perception. It’s like in golf. A 68 is a 68. It doesn’t matter if a guy hits booming drives or plays a low cut. It doesn’t matter if he hits every green or has to get up and down from all over the course. At the end of the day, a 68 is a 68, and if some guy with a better swing and a better television persona shot 70, then you know what? He lost. I think baseball, while not being as absolute, is very similar.
So that brings me to my question. If Schilling was so good, why didn’t he win more games? 216 isn’t that many. Frank Tanana has 240. David Wells has 239.Jamie Moyer has 237. Heck, Kenny Rogers has 215. Will any of these guys ever be considered? Orel Hershiser won 204 games and he did win a Cy Young. Where are his votes?
The guy has 216 wins and no Cy Young’s, yet he’s a Hall of Famer? Maybe someday, but there are a few other guys who have to get in first.