Monday, June 23, 2008

Curt Schilling: Hall of Famer?

If Schilling was hit by a bus right after the '04 World Series, he may have gone down as one of my favorite Sox pitchers ever, despite only pitching one year with the team. At the age of 37, he was first in the AL in wins and K/BB, second in ERA and third in strikeouts. AT THE AGE OF 37. And while everyone remembers his Game 6 performance against the Yankees, they tend to forget that he threw six scoreless innings against the Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series with that ankle tendon sheath even worse than it was a week earlier. He was unstoppable in the regular season and clutch in the postseason, and his "open to the media" nature was, at that time, a novelty and therefore not annoying yet.

Unfortunately, my view of Schil has since been tainted, (heh, taint) mostly because he a) has been repeatedly hurt since then and b) doesn't shut the fuck up about anything, ever, at all. Granted, he had a solid-but-not-great '06 and looked fantastic in the playoffs last year, but my memories of Schilling from '04 through '08 will mostly center around thoughts of "oh no, not again" whenever he opened his mouth or ended up on the DL. With the notable exception of Barry Bonds, I don't think I've ever had a harder time differentiating my off-field dislike with my on-field respect as I have with Schilling over the past few years, and because of that, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that my first thought when I learned of his (unofficial) retirement was "Finally, now maybe he can move out and we won't have to listen to him anymore." Conversely, if he had retired in '04, I'd be lighting candles in front of Fenway Park and crying.

However, I'll try to cast aside my off-field bias of him for this argument and try to simply discuss his on-field accomplishments. The "Is he a Hall of Famer" discussion will also be an interesting one, if only because his regular season numbers don't exactly blow you away. He finished with 216 wins, tied with Charlie Hough and less than Jerry Reuss, Dennis Martinez and Davis Wells. He's tied for 379th in career ERA. He never won a Cy Young, or finished better than 10th in MVP voting. He only appeared in three All-Star games (though he was selected to six). Baseball Reference lists Kevin Brown as the player he's most similar to, and you won't see anyone arguing Brown's HOF candidacy.

Of course, what might get Schilling in are his postseason numbers, which have been absolutely spectacular. (10-2, 2.23 ERA, nearly 5-1 K/BB ratio) But El Duque's postseason record is 9-3, Mike Stanton's postseason ERA was 2.10, and Derek Lowe won three clinching games in '04. None of these players are getting in to the Hall of Fame. Postseason numbers alone won't win you a plaque in Cooperstown, bloody sock or no.

Look, Schilling did some awesome things for the Sox in his time here, especially in the postseason. I just think that the Legend of Curt Schilling has vastly outreached his actual accomplishments, and that talk of him as a Hall of Famer is somewhat ridiculous. Let's remember him for exactly what he was - a very good pitcher who came up huge in the playoffs and during the '04 regular season. Nothing more, nothing less.


futuremrsrickankiel said...

If there is indeed a god, we will at some point in the future have an opportunity to reuse the "Creepy Aryan Families in Turtlenecks" tag.

What's Matt Holliday doing these days?

dubbschism said...

despite the fact that the BBWAA is comprised of idiots that can only understand what a "W" is, allow me to submit the following figures:

Curt Schilling:
-#2 all time career K/BB ratio (behind Tommy Bond, the ace of your 1878 Boston Red Caps, and just a tick ahead of Pedro)
-#14 all time in strikeouts (also a tick ahead of Pedro.)
-three 2nd place cy young finishes (more germane to the discussion of a pitcher's HOF qualifications than top-10 MVP finishes, methinks)

you're right about his comps (freddie fitzsimmons!?), but i'm not sure the BBWAA really cares about that either. my guess is he gets in after like 5 years on the ballot, lest he comes back next season and pads his W total and/or picks up a few more postseason wins.

Rocco said...

Even us atheists would enjoy another "Creepy Aryan Families in Turtlenecks" tag.