Pitcher List Hall of Fame Voting: Curt Schilling
The Pitcher List staff recently took part in Hall of Fame voting. You can see the results here! Curt Schilling didn’t make the cut, but Ryan Amore and Adam Lawler wanted to debate the point anyway. You can see their arguments below:
The Case for Schilling
In an era of bestial sluggers, Curt Schilling attacked the zone mercilessly. Seriously, the guy didn’t walk anyone while pitching in the teeth of the steroid era.
None of those guys (excluding Bond) have yet pitched more than nine years. Schilling’s career spanned two decades. For strikeouts, he’s 15th all time between two Hall of Famers in Bob Gibson and John Smoltz.
Along with Randy Johnson in 1999, Schilling was the last starting pitcher to record double-digit complete games in a single season with 15 in 1998.
The Case Against Schilling
Curt Schilling. Just typing his name makes my blood pressure rise slightly.
Imagine a box. A big box. Now, let’s put the politics inside the box. We can also shove in the fact he’s anti-science. No, he doesn’t believe in global warming or evolution. We can also shove the darkest notions of his brain, the one where he dehumanizes transgender people or the crazy idea he was peddling about planted actors at the Majory Stoneman Douglas school shooting.
Man, this is a big box. Well, let me just say, for all of that, Schilling is a garbage human.
Still, that does not omit Schilling from consideration in a museum. There are plenty of animated receptacle bins within the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. However, it’s undeniable anyone who throws up a vote for him is mischaracterizing the true success of his career, basing it on a couple big moments in front of national television. Truth is, he was never really great for his time.
Don’t get me wrong: If there was a Hall of Very Good, Schilling would get a bust his first time on the ballot. He was a compiler of stats. Over his 20-year career, he was never dominant, always solid. There is no easier way to underscore that than by simply saying Schilling was never a Cy Young winner.
Then again, voters were still using the win as a key stat for consideration, so maybe the advanced metrics say something different?
Would you be surprised if I said no? JAWS score is something I often look at when considering a player’s worthiness of a spot in the Hall. JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score system) was developed by sabermetrician Jay Jaffe as a means to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness. A player’s JAWS is his career WAR averaged with his seven-year peak WAR. Schilling’s JAWS score is 48.7. He is firmly below the seven-year peak WAR threshold. Clayton Kershaw has already surpassed him, and Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander are set to pass him this year. Meanwhile, his contemporaries, names such as Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay, and Roger Clemens are well above this level.
“But Adam, what if we cherry pick his best seasons? Wouldn’t that tell a different story?” To which I say: Maybe? Is this worth the exercise?
You stare blankly.
Fine. Let’s look.
If we identified his seven best seasons were 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2004, he showed up in the top 10 WAR seasonal leaders less than half the time. Good. Definitely good. But not great.
There are some eye-popping numbers scattered in his line, but again, context matters. He posted nine seasons of 200-plus innings pitched, three seasons of 300-plus strikeouts, three seasons of 20-plus wins.
I won’t quibble with the 300 K mark. Regardless of era, that’s impressive. Still, when considering the era in which he played, the 200 IP starter was not unique, and over the course of 20 seasons, he should have hit that peak a couple more times as a testament to durability.
Schilling’s soul is objectively below replacement level. His playing time, however, is objectively above average. Still, there were only a few flashes of brilliance in his time as a ballplayer.
A dirty sock, whose truth is as ambiguous as its owner’s politics, seems fitting for the hall.
(Graphic by Justin Paradis/@freshmeatcommr on Twitter)