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The Hall of Fame Case for Curt Schilling

Another year of Hall of Fame voting has gone by and Curt Schilling has once again been passed over. This past vote was Schilling’s 7th time on the ballot and he received 60.9% of the vote this time around, which is an improvement on the 51.2% he received in 2018. Schilling is trending upwards, but it is ridiculous that one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time has been left out of Cooperstown year after year.

People like to bring up the character clause on Schilling based on his past social media posts as well as political beliefs, but it seems unfair to judge a player on what he has said on Twitter considering this Hall of Fame is supposed to be an enshrinement of the best baseball players to play the game. Voters have decided to pull the character clause on Schilling even though there are currently men sitting in the Hall of Fame with worse track records.

It is important to note that Mike Mussina got into the Hall of Fame on this ballot, while Schilling has been left out. When you look at the numbers, Schilling was a much better player than Mussina and yet Schilling is still sitting on the outside looking in.

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People have tried to discredit Schilling’s Cooperstown legitimacy based solely on his 3.46 ERA. They say it is too high of an ERA for the Hall of Fame, but now Mussina is in with a 3.68 ERA, so this should clearly open the door of Schilling’s candidacy. If Mussina’s 3.68 ERA is good enough for the Hall of Fame, then Schilling’s 3.46 ERA should be as well.

Another important stat to look at is strikeouts. Every pitcher in the history of the MLB who has amassed 3,000+ strikeouts, except Roger Clemens for obvious reasons, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Schilling meets this mark with 3,116 while Mussina only struck out 2,813 batters in his 18-year career.

One of the only stats that Mussina holds over Schilling is total wins. Mussina has 270 wins over Schilling’s 216. In 2019, we have started to devalue wins as it does not show a pitcher’s true value. Jacob deGrom just took home the National League Cy Young award with 10-9 record, which should indicate that we have started to shift the ways we evaluate pitchers.

Schilling should be a Hall of Famer based on his regular season stats, but if anyone was to consider him a borderline guy, his postseason numbers should push him over the line. Schilling pitched in 19 postseason games with a 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 133.1 innings. Of those 19 games he started, he had 4 complete games as well as 2 shutouts.

His 2001 postseason should be what pushes him over the edge in terms of Hall of Fame legitimacy. Schilling won the 2001 World Series with the Diamondbacks and he shared the World Series MVP Award with Randy Johnson. In the 2001 postseason, Schilling had a 1.12 ERA in 6 games where he went 4-0 and struck out 56 batters in 48.1 innings, while only walking 6 batters. He only gave up 6 runs throughout that postseason. In the World Series, he pitched 21.1 innings in 9 days while having an ERA of 1.69 and a record of 1-0. He struck out 26 batters and only allowed 4 runs on 12 hits. This postseason run cemented Schilling’s place as one of the greatest big game pitchers in MLB history.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Mussina’s postseason numbers are not bad, but they do not come close to Schilling’s. Mussina has a 3.42 career postseason ERA, while striking out 145 batters in 139.2 innings. Mussina has good numbers, but they do not come close to matching Schilling’s. Schilling had some great postseason runs, while Mussina did not.

Curt Schilling should also get a boost in votes considering he played during the steroid ERA and has been regarded as a clean player. Schilling had to play against players who were using steroids, so Schilling was at a disadvantage and he still put up great numbers. His numbers could have been better if he did not have to play against Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosas, and Mark McGwires.

Now that Mike Mussina is in the Hall of Fame, Curt Schilling has to be inducted. It does not seem right that Mussina is in Cooperstown, while Schilling has to sit on the side. Schilling is by far the better pitcher and has only been left out because of a silly character clause. Cooperstown is supposed to measure baseball greatness and not what a guy says on Twitter. There are currently players in Cooperstown that have done and said things far worse than Schilling, but they have been allowed in.

Most people would rather have Schilling pitch a game 7 for them instead of Mussina, and yet Mussina is in the Hall of Fame and Schilling is not. Writers need to put their differences aside and realize they are neglecting a Hall of Famer worthy player in Curt Schilling.

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