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Rob Neyer says yes. Jayson Stark says yes.

Three World Series rings. 214 career victories. 83 complete games. Three 300-strikeout seasons. The highest postseason winning percentage of all time (.846) for a starter with more than six postseason decisions. The best strikeout/walk ratio of any pitcher in the modern era.

[poll id="26"]

36 Responses to “Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer?”

  1. Quite frankly I find that the argument around win totals to be incredibly silly. Most fans nowadays can vaguely agree that while a 20 win season is a nice mile marker, it’s kinda meaningless. Bartolo Colon went 21-8 in 2005 and won the Cy Young. He was in no way the best pitcher in the AL that year, he was a guy who the offense backed on the right day. That same year Johan went 16-7, more innings pitched, better strikeout rate, WHIP, pretty much across the board he was better. Yet for some damn reason, history states Colon was a better pitcher that year… but you want to know the real funny part: The Twins were 25-8 the same day Johan went on the hill. Angels went 22-11 the same year when Colon was on the hill (No, I’m not looking up the totals for Schilling, anyone who wants to debate the point find it yourself, I was simply bringing up an amusing story about why win totals are overrated).

    Now I brought that part up purely for the “He only has 216 wins argument.” I know the Blyleven fans will sound off on me that Blyleven was on crappy teams. Actually more than half the time he was on a winning team and had 21 years as a starter. Schilling had 15 years as a starter and wasn’t on a good team for more than half his career (that part I just find ironic, considering the “Blyleven spent most his career on bad teams” argument that I keep hearing). The real difference is Schilling spent the last half of his career on a good teams, so people tend to forget. Another Funny thing about the Blyleven/Schilling comparison, if we are going to harp on about him winning 287 games, will we also consider the 250 the lost? 53.4% v. 59.7%… can you guess who’s winning percentage is which? Nolan Ryan had over 300 wins… he also came within 8 of having 300 losses. Anyway, enough about the win/loss argument, didn’t mean to bite anyone’s head off. I do believe a W/L record is meaningless, I just used it to make a point. People think if they have a stat it can argue just about anything. Schilling was better than Blyleven

    Now for the Kevin Brown comparison. Here’s why I think Schilling should be in the Hall and Brown not, since they pitched in the same era let’s compare that alone:
    1) Schilling’s K/9 ratio was 2nd best among righties (8.59), Brown had a 6.62.
    2) Schilling also during this era had the 3rd best K total among righties.
    3) Schilling also had the 3rd best WHIP among righties.
    4) Same era, Schilling lead all righties in complete games.

    5) Brown was a dud in the playoffs. 5-5 with a 4.19 ERA and he never won a game he started in the WS. Who think Schill doesn’t deserve in tend to think everyone else is bringing up the “bloody sock” game when we refer to Schilling as a postseason warrior. But:
    -Schill was 11-2 with a 2.33 ERA in postseason and never lost an elimination game. Ironic I’m bring up W/L right? But if people want to use that argument against Schill I can fight fire with fire…
    -That ERA is also 2nd best in postseason history for starters with more than 100 postseason innings.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    “Make ‘em beat you.” “Make ‘em hit your stuff.” “Go after the hitter.” That’s what they tell everyone young pitcher coming up, and for good reason. Frankly, there are very few instances in which it is actually preferable to walk someone rather than go for the K or take the risk of giving up a hit. Given that most batted balls do turn into outs. Plus, Schilling would move up a notch on most leaderboards of the era if he didn’t have the luck to pitch at the same time as Pedro Martinez – sort of the way that we’d all remember Heinrich Schutz a lot more fondly if not for some genius named Bach.

    I don’t know why there’s this desire to keep Schilling’s postseason heroics out of the HoF debate. His regular season accomplishments get him far enough to be a borderline-to-high-borderline case – certainly, he’s no first-balloter. But his postseason accomplishments put him over the top. This goes beyond the bloody sock stuff (Ben L elaborated nicely) but, while we’re at it, I do think Schilling should get an extra point for the bloody sock. I mean, it’s a great story! Who doesn’t love a great baseball story? Who thinks we shouldn’t have great stories in the Hall? Don’t penalize a great pitcher because he won a dramatic game for legions of insane, baseball-crazed fans whom the baseball world now agrees are pretty much universally annoying. It’s not his fault.

  3. You can’t have it both ways and say Schilling didn’t play on good enough teams to amass regular season wins but he had a lot of wins in the playoffs. His losses were because of the teams he was with but his wins in the playoffs were all him. What about pitchers that didn’t have the chance to pitch in the playoffs? Schilling made the most of his playoff opportunities but that does not make him a Hall of Famer in my opinion.
    If he had spent his entire career in Philly and put up the same regular season numbers he probably wouldn’t even be considered HOF material. Winning in Boston and defeating New York carries more weight than it should and because of that the writers will most likely vote him in. It’s not that his post season shouldn’t factor in but it shouldn’t be half the argument which in his case, I think it is. You switch post seasons and Brown is the guy that everyone is clamoring to put in the Hall.

    Sarah, you can say, make ‘em hit your stuff, and you can also say, don’t give in to the hitter and make them hit your pitch. His homers allowed is less than impressive.

  4. Melissa, I don’t know why you keep harping on Schilling’s HR rate. As Paul pointed out, Schilling allowed fewer than a HR per nine innings pitched, which is average. And when you consider that he spent his career pitching in hitters parks, it’s not bad at all. It’s just high compared to Brown, who was a sinker ball pitcher.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    His HR rate is neither impressive nor unimpressive, to me. It neither helps nor hinders his case for the Hall.

    If I had to break it down, I’d say his regular season accomplishments are about 87% of a Hall of Famer, and that his postseason accomplishments in general get him to 97%, and that the bloody sock is worth maybe the final 3%.

  6. melissa says:

    I understand why Brown gave up less homers and I guess to some that doesn’t count in his favor because he was a sinker baller. The reason I was bringing it up is because of the comparison between Schilling and Brown, it seems relevant if you look at the career numbers of the two.

    I guess when people don’t agree they just try to marginalize my argument by calling it harping. I guess it’s easier to tell a woman she’s harping when you disagree with her rather than just dispute her actual points. Quite frankly, once someone tells me I’m harping on a point they can expect it to be brought up, give or take, a thousand more times.

  7. Paul Moro says:

    I actually think that Kevin Brown is getting royally screwed. And I hope that by the time his name appears on the ballot, more people pay attention to how good this guy was. Ten years ago, he absolutely would have made my list of the top 5 pitchers in baseball, along with Pedro, Maddux, and Schilling (don’t know who my fifth would have been…).

    And I don’t think anyone here is in any way shape or form marginalizing your argument. I mean, we’re paying pretty damned close attention to it, aren’t we? If the topic wasn’t worth raising, we wouldn’t be addressing it in the first place. And I have no idea when/where we are not actually disputing your points. Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?

    But I will say this – your argument that Schilling should have walked more hitters to decrease his HRs is disproven by pretty much every statistical analysis of what a pitcher ought to do. It also goes against most old baseball adages. If you’re afraid of giving up a HR, you don’t belong on the mound. Because EVERY strike you throw could be a HR. By your idea, no one should ever throw a strike because it could be a dinger. This, I don’t understand. You’re making it sound like a pitcher actually chooses to give up HRs.

  8. Sarah Green says:

    At the risk of getting caught in the crossfire, allow me to gently point out that “harping” is one of those words like “shrill” that just carries baggage when applied to women. I’m sure you guys didn’t mean it that way. But it is what it is:

    You say “harping.” We hear “nagging hussy.” You say “shrill.” We hear “opinionated shrew.” You say “What’s for dinner?” We hear “Back to the kitchen, wench!” At least, that’s what I hear. Which maybe explains the habitual look of confusion on my bf’s face.

    /feminism

  9. melissa says:

    Thanks for putting that more tactfully than I could have, Sarah.

  10. For the record, I’ve never even heard the word “harp” be used as a sexist dismissal. I use the word because it sounds nicer than “dwell upon.” Ultimately for me, I’ll argue my point with anyone regardless of gender, race, creed, sexuality, roots for the yankees, or whatever as long as they’re willing to argue the issue as well.

    So can we get back to the argument on hand… this is just too much fun.

    Now melissa. In regards to some of your points:
    Yes, had Schilling stayed his entire career in Philadelphia, he’d have less of an argument about his admittance to the Hall. Reason is he wouldn’t be back in the postseason. He got several shots that other players didn’t… but also he succeeded more than anyone else who had the same shots. Atlanta’s big 3, Clemens on and off drugs, the Big Unit, Pedro, Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, and many more all had a good deal of postseason experience and Schilling has done better than all of them in the postseason.

    As a closer Hoffman actually has better clutch stats than Mo… but if someone wants to argue Mo is a better closer, they’ll bring up his postseason performance and rightly so. Postseason is a higher level that not all can reach, but when you do, not everyone will shine.

    You switch postseasons with Brown and yes, Schill loses a lot of weight to his argument, enough so to dismiss him… but I don’t think adding a performance to Brown helps him as much as you think. Of players active in the same era, Schilling was 4th in Ks. Brown not even in the top 10. K/9, Schill is 13th all time (6th for those above 2000 innings), Brown not even in the top 100. This era, Schill had the 4th lowest BB/9 ratio, Brown’s barely in the top 20… etc etc. Brown was a good pitcher of his era, even had some great seasons… overall though he was a good pitcher. On the other hand, overall, Schilling was a great pitcher of this era.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    Well Ben L, consider yourself “educated” now.

    Now make me a sandwich.

  12. melissa says:

    Ben,
    Post season is such a small sample that the numbers don’t carry a lot of weight to me. A player’s post season numbers don’t give you an accurate portrayal of what type of career he had.

  13. If the guy had 1 start in the postseason then you would be right. But we’re talking over 50 innings or more of work. When you test for normal distribution in statistics, the minimum accepted observations is around 50. So technically it does give an accurate portrayal.

    Sarah, no.

  14. melissa says:

    50 innings in the post season may give an accurate portrayal of his post season performance but it does not indicate what type of career the player had. Given even more post season innings Schilling’s numbers would surely regress to his career averages. I’m sure there are plenty of Yankees that have really nice post season lines that aren’t hall of famers.

  15. But the thing is postseason stats aren’t part of his career stats, they are a separate stat to consider. Which means if you include the rules of normal distributions he probably wouldn’t regress to career numbers, error terms would in fact decrease. He’d continue to put up his average playoff numbers if you were to hold all other conditions equally… on the other hand if you were to take into account statistics over time (as a player ages) and graph these stats, virtually every player watches his stats act parabolically… every player gets worse as he ages. The again that kinda works into my arguement… imagine if Schilling played his first half of his career for a team that appeared regularly appeared in the playoffs. My theory states his numbers would be better, yours states the opposite.

    Though I supposed for the sake of arguments, you and I should stick to the principle of “what happened happened,” (And I’m not trying to be clever and include a title of a LOST episode) otherwise we’re starting to argue philosophy.

    I have to admit I’m grateful to you, melissa. I haven’t been this much of a zealot about a player’s worth until I started this argument with you. As I said… this is fun.

  16. melissa says:

    Ben,
    You seem to imply that pitching in the post-season is a different skill than pitching in the regular season. His post-season numbers contrast with his regular season to such an extent that one would have to believe the larger sample, his career numbers, are in fact the more representative sample of his skill. Had he pitched in the post-season every single year of his career when he was young and old both, his post-season numbers would probably be much closer to his career averages. A larger sample of post-season numbers, in theory should come closer to his career averages not continue to advance further away. The question is what numbers better represent his true skill a limited number of post-season innings or the numbers he amassed over his entire career? The career numbers are more representative of his true level of performance than the post-season numbers.

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