Breaking down Schilling's Hall of Fame case

Six-time All-Star on ballot for 5th year

January 12th, 2017

Curt Schilling is in his fifth year on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, meaning if he's not elected this year, he'll be halfway through his 10-year window for election by voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
A six-time All-Star, Schilling played for the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, D-backs and Red Sox and won three World Series over his 20-year career. He received 52.3 percent of the vote on the 2016 ballot, falling short of the 75-percent threshold needed for induction into Cooperstown.
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Here's a breakdown of Schilling's case before the 73rd BBWAA Hall of Fame election is revealed Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET live on MLB Network, and simulcast live on beginning at 5 p.m.
Schilling's HOF case using traditional stats
• Schilling's 3,116 strikeouts rank him 15th all-time and just one strikeout behind Bob Gibson. Of the 16 pitchers in the 3,000-strikeout club, Schilling and Roger Clemens are the only two not in the Hall of Fame. Schilling has more career strikeouts than 57 of the 71 pitchers in Cooperstown.
• In 19 playoff starts, Schilling had a 2.23 ERA, third-best of the 67 pitchers with at least 10 postseason starts, behind only Christy Mathewson and Waite Hoyt. Schilling went 11-2 in the postseason, which is tied with Greg Maddux for fifth-most postseason wins all-time.
• Schilling's 216 wins would rank 50th among Hall of Famers, between contemporaries Pedro Martinez (219) and John Smoltz (213). His .597 win percentage is above the Hall of Fame average and would tie for 38th with Warren Spahn. Schilling's 3.46 ERA would rank 63rd, but it would be ahead of Tom Glavine (3.54), among others.

Schilling's HOF case using advanced stats
• Schilling's 80.7 WAR on the mound would rank 24th among Hall of Famers, between Gibson and Glavine. Schilling, Clemens and Mike Mussina are the only pitchers with 80-plus WAR not in the Hall of Fame. By Jay Jaffe's WAR score, a combination of career and peak WAR, Schilling ranks above the Cooperstown average (64.5 JAWS vs. 62.1 for starters).
• Schilling's 4.66 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in the modern era for pitchers with 2,000-plus innings pitched. He struck out 23.5 percent of batters, the fifth-best mark among those pitchers, behind only Randy Johnson, Martinez, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. His 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings ranks sixth.
• Schilling posted a career 80 ERA- (ERA adjusted for ballpark, with 100 as average), which was 20 percent better than league-average. That ranks 34th ever among pitchers with 2,000-plus innings, just ahead of pitchers like Juan Marichal and Bob Feller.
Most similar player in the HOF: John Smoltz
Aside from his 154 saves, Smoltz's career numbers look a lot like Schilling's. Smoltz went 213-155 with a 3.33 ERA, 81 ERA- and 3,084 strikeouts in 3,473 innings. Like Schilling, he was a very strong postseason pitcher, with a 15-4 record and a 2.67 ERA in 41 games (27 starts). Schilling, though, has the edge in strikeout percentage (23.5 to 21.6), strikeouts per nine (8.6 to 8.0) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.66 to 3.05) -- and a better WAR, 80.6 to Smoltz's 66.5.
Most similar player not in the HOF: Kevin Brown
Brown didn't have Schilling's strikeouts (Brown had 2,397), but his other statistics bear a resemblance. Brown was 211-144 with a 3.28 ERA and 78 ERA- over 3,256 1/3 innings. He threw 72 complete games and 17 shutouts, while Schilling had 83 and 20. But Schilling's strikeouts, postseason success and WAR advantage (80.7 to 68.5) put him a level above Brown, who only appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot for one year.