By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Assessing Curt Schilling

Nick Cafardo asks: Does Curt Schilling belong in the Hall of Fame?

But that’s shorthand. Here’s the real question: Does a guy whose career record makes him, at best, a borderline candidate for the Hall deserve to go in because of his extraordinary post-seasons?

I say yes. When Schilling had a chance to perform on baseball’s biggest stage, he came through. It’s a shame that Jim Rice, to name just one example, never had the same opportunity. But the point is to win it all, and Schilling’s been a key guy on three separate occasions.

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  1. mike_b1

    Dan, I’ll address the Schilling/HoF question in a separate post. But as for Rice, define “never had the same opportunity.”He played 18 post-season games, going 7-44 (.159) in his two ACLS series (86 and 88), and 9-27 (.333) in the 86 World Series.

  2. mike_b1

    On second thought, Joe Sheehan says it all better than I (or anyone covering sports in Boston today) ever could:

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: The Joe Sheehan thing is a subscription-only article.Touché on Rice, but I’ll add this: In 1986, his power numbers were way off, and in ’88 he was pretty much done. He never got to play in the post-season during his relatively brief prime. And, as we know, he missed the post-season during his rookie year because of a broken … uh, oh. Leg? Arm? The mind fades.

  4. Steve

    Rice didn’t have Curt’s longevity, but in his (too short) prime he was absolutely fearsome. More than 400 total bases in (the relatively dead-ball) 1978 was quite a feat. IMO, he should be in, but it’s a close thing.Curt’s regular season numbers put him at or just a bit over the HOF line (see Baseball Reference, scroll down to the “HOF Standards”). His post-season performances should put him well over the line. Maybe not on the first ballot, but soon after.

  5. Anonymous

    Broken wrist, Dan in 1975, and also 1980 I believe, which I think lowered his career stats. Rice does have a decent chance of getting into the HOF next year on his 15th and final ballot.

  6. Anonymous

    The comment about Baseball Reference raises an interesting point.Nick Cafardo wrote several hundred words on the subject of Schilling and the Hall, and all that was missing was … facts. Is it too much work for a writer like Cafardo to look up, say, how Schilling’s numbers compare with other pitchers, which pitchers have similar numbers, how he scores on the James ratings for Hall of Fame standards and Hall of Fame likelies, etc. (Those measuring systems aren’t perfect, but they are interesting.)In other words, why just phone it in?

  7. mike_b1

    I’ll give the highlights of the Sheehan piece, hopefully w/o stepping on any copyright issues:-Schilling’s win total and won-loss record will not be marks in his favor: a 216-146 career is something to be proud of, but the BBWAA hasn’t elected a starter with fewer than 250 wins since they voted in Catfish Hunter in 1987. The last starting pitcher with fewer wins than Schilling’s total to be elected was Don Drysdale in 1984. Just 10 of the 42 pitchers with between 200 and 225 wins are in the Hall (this includes one active pitcher — Pedro Martinez). -He is one of 16 pitchers with at least 3000 career strikeouts; nine are in the Hall; four others (Clemens, Johnson, Maddux, etc.) are as good as in; Schilling, Smoltz, and Blyleven are the others. -Top 100 in career innings; top 90 in starts. -Schilling has 133 1/3 post-season innings with a 2.23 ERA and nearly a 5/1 K/BB. Schilling has seven World Series starts on his resume, and a 2.06 ERA in 48 innings.In high-leverage situations, Schilling performed as well as anyone: 130-odd innings of Cy Young-caliber pitching in high-leverage games push his Hall of Fame case from marginal to definite. —-My comment: The Drysdale mention is interesting. Both players saw their career numbers diminished by injuries. Both had many their best seasons in the shadow of other, almost peerless pitchers (Drysdale w/ Koufax; Curt w/ Randy Johnson and then Pedro).

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Good stuff. But Clemens is as good as in? Uh, I don’t think so.

  9. Lefty

    Schilling touches deep emotions in Boston and Phoenix. To the vast majority of baseball fans he is an OK pitcher.

  10. mike_b1

    Dan: Fair enough on Clemens. On the baseball record, he’s in. Give his other troubles, he’s not.Something to watch for is the year in which Schilling becomes eligible. The rule states: “Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball.” So, Schilling won’t play in 2008, but he was on the disabled list and the 40-man roster. To me, that qualifies as “active.” Whether the Hall will see it the same way — and more germane to your blog, whether writers attempt to resolve this by getting an official ruling, or just make assumptions, is something to watch.

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