There haven’t been many Phillies players in recent years that deserved serious discussion as potential Hall of Fame candidates.
Oh sure, guys like Rico Brogna and Mike Lieberthal will get their share of votes, but let’s be honest, they probably fall just short of induction, am I right people?
Even the current core of Phils players, guys like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, are on the fringe at the moment, although Rollins and Utley could warrant consideration if they can hang on for another three or four years and continue to produce. Roy Halladay will almost certainly get in and Cole Hamels sure is on a trajectory towards enshrinement one day.
But a Hall call for those players is still a long ways off. On Wednesday, an entirely different batch of players will be eligible for the controversial baseball museum/enshrinement dome, with only one former Phillie having a realistic shot at receiving the call.
And no, I’m not talking about Dale Murphy (although I think Murph should get in, and no, not because his sons have been brow-beating us for the last two months).
Curt Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame. Yes, he was loud and abrasive and said controversial things and talked his way right out of town. The whole towel over the head thing in the ’93 playoffs was completely self-serving, and Schilling has always annoyingly tried to be the center of attention.
And seriously, could you ever elect someone to the Hall of Fame with a mustache as horrifically poor as that?
In addition, many of his career stats don’t exactly scream Hall of Fame. He only has 216 wins for his career, and unfortunately, Hall of Fame voters still look at “win” totals as a qualification for induction. He also never won a Cy Young Award, although he did have three 20-win seasons and finished runner-up in the Cy voting twice (in 2001 to Randy Johnson and 2004 to Johan Santana).
However, his other numbers speak volumes. He recorded 3,116 strikeouts over his career (15th all-time). He struck out more than 200 batters five times, and had three seasons in which he struck out more than 300. And his strikeout-to-walk ratio was the best of any pitcher since 1900. (Stats there courtesy of ESPN’s Gordon Edes).
And while a player’s postseason statistics should never be the sole reason for induction, Schilling’s playoff history was remarkable (11-2 and a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts) and should be a consideration when used in concert with his regular season numbers.
As a Phillie, Schilling will always be remembered for his incredible run in the 1993 playoffs, in which he was NLCS MVP, posting a 1.69 ERA with 19 Ks in 16 innings, and had an epic Game 5 performance in the World Series that saved the Phils’ season, albeit temporarily.
Not only that, Schilling pitched in an era of greatly increased offensive output, and still managed to post numbers that were far above league average.
When you break down the numbers that matter, Curt Schilling is an obvious Hall of Famer.
Of course, he likely will not be inducted this year. Only the true greatest of the greats are elected in their first year of eligibility. In fact, there is a chance no player is inducted into the Hall this year.
This year marks the first time that many players from the steroid era (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, etc.) are eligible, and it’s likely none of them will get in this year.
The big question for Phils fans is, when Schill is eventually inducted into the Hall, will he go in as a Phillie?
When one thinks back on his career, the first team that jumps to mind is likely the Red Sox. Although Curt pitched more games for the Phillies than anyone else (226 games started, as compared to 107 for Arizona and 98 for Boston), Schilling was one of the centerpieces for the Red Sox’ historic win in 2004. The Bloody Sock Game is forever etched in baseball lore, and it is for those heroics he is most remembered.
He should go in as a Red Sock.
Even so, it was with Philadelphia that Schilling became a star pitcher while playing for some very poor teams. Even though he talked himself right out of town, Schilling should be remembered for his remarkable body of work while playing for the Phillies, and should be cheered with gusto by Phils fans when he is finally inducted.
And for the record, my Hall ballot for this year looks like this: Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Dale Murphy, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza.
Not that anyone is going to keep this for their records or anything.
Good luck, Curt!