In his second year of eligibility, Schilling hopes to expand on the 38.8% of the vote he received in his debut.
Is Schilling a Hall of Famer?
Schilling has two things going in his favor as the years go on, 3113 career strikeouts and some of the best pinpoint command in the history of the game. There was a 10-year stretch where he finished in the top 10 in pitching Wins Above Replacement—sure to earn the respect of stat-heads everywhere.
A Roberto Clemente award winner and the 2001 World Series Most Valuable Player trophy to go onto his mantel makes Schilling one of the most decorated pitchers of his era.
So, despite walking one batter for every 4.38 he struck out, why is he not considered a lock for Cooperstown? There are a few reasons, a couple which are out of his control.
Schilling can do nothing about being on the ballot at the same time as Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine—the cream of his generation. Schilling was a very good pitcher, but Maddux took his game to a whole other level.
Schilling also is a victim of pitching in the steroid era.
A well-known advocate of banning performance enhancing drugs from baseball, Schilling sits under the same microscope as Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Kevin Brown and others who played clean but have their career accomplishments swept under the rug with known users such as Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.
Along with Brown and Mike Mussina, Schilling’s career numbers do not scream “baseball immortal” at first glance.
Schilling never won a Cy Young award. He never won an ERA title. Although he won 20 games three times in four seasons from 2001-2004, Schilling won only 216 games in his 21-season career and has a winning percentage of .597.
Schilling was never an all-star until he turned 30—1997 with the Philadelphia Phillies—in his ninth major league season. As a full time starter, he had only three years where his ERA was under 3.00 and seven total under 3.50.
If you look at who Baseball Reference compares to him with their similarity scores, no one in the top five are in the hall—Brown, Bob Welch, Orel Hershiser, Freddie Fitzsimmons and Milt Pappas. That is not a ringing endorsement.
If he is to have his day in the sun, Schilling is going to need someone to push his case as they did for Jim Rice and Bert Blyleven. His peak certainly is hall-worthy, but his valley may be too much to overcome.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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