By the numbers: HOF case for Schilling
Right-hander known for his high strikeout totals and postseason excellence
Even though seven players have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame over the past two years, many strong candidates remain on the ballot. With Baseball Writers' Association of America voters able to pick a maximum of 10 players apiece, and 75 percent of the vote required for enshrinement, several worthy candidates must travel a difficult road.
Results of this year's BBWAA vote will be revealed on MLB Network on Jan. 6, with a news conference involving any electees to be held the following day. It's unlikely Curt Schilling, in his fourth year on the ballot, will be part of that group. The right-hander, who received 39.2 percent of the vote last time around, has a long ways to go.
Schilling no doubt has suffered from his relatively low total of wins (216) and lack of a Cy Young Award, perhaps getting overshadowed by his brilliant contemporaries -- and in some cases teammates -- such as Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez. But when it comes to the most relevant numbers, there is a strong case for the six-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young runner-up as a clear Hall of Famer. Here is a look at that argument:
• Schilling's career value stacks up quite favorably. His 80.7 pitching wins above replacement (WAR) ranks 26th all time, according to Baseball-Reference.com, including 14th in the expansion era (since 1961). He comes in just behind Bob Gibson and ahead of numerous Hall of Famers, including Don Sutton, Jim Palmer, Bob Feller, Juan Marichal and Don Drysdale.
• Baseball-Reference's wins above average (WAA) compares a player's performance to the league average instead of to a theoretical replacement player, as in WAR. By that standard, Schilling's 54.1 ranks 10th among pitchers since 1901, ahead of such names as Gibson, Steve Carlton and Warren Spahn.
• In 1968, baseball witnessed the Year of the Pitcher and responded by lowering the mound. Over the 47 seasons since then, here is where Schilling's career numbers fall in several important categories (a minimum of 2,500 innings was used for rate stats):
Strikeout-to-walk ratio: 1st (4.38)
Strikeouts per 9 innings: 4th (8.6)
WHIP: 4th (1.137)
Walks per 9 innings: 6th (1.96)
WAA: 6th (54.1)
ERA+: 7th (127)
Strikeouts: 9th (3,116)
WAR: 10th (80.7)
Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP): 11th (3.23)
• Schilling started slowly, but over his final 12 years (1996-2007), during an era of extreme offense, he went 173-104 (a .625 winning percentage) with a 3.43 ERA (134 ERA+), averaging more than 200 innings and 200 strikeouts per season.
From 2001-04, at the advanced ages of 34-37, he led all pitchers in WAR, with an average of 7.8. Schilling also was first in strikeout-to-walk ratio, second in strikeouts, third in innings and FIP and fourth in ERA+. For good measure, he won seven postseason games and two World Series rings.
• When it comes to racking up strikeouts and limiting walks -- a crucial part of a pitcher's job -- few have been better than Schilling. The righty is one of four pitchers to record at least three 300-strikeout seasons, along with Johnson, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax.
Excluding the 1800s, no pitcher with even 1,000 career innings can match Schilling's 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Only one other pitcher with 2,000-plus innings, Martinez, is above 3.78. At his best, from 2001-06, Schilling posted a 6.75 ratio, putting him way ahead of his closest challenger, Johnson (4.70). Schilling was responsible for five of the top 11 single-season marks during that span, and his 9.58 in 2002 was the second-best in history up until 2010. It still ranks fourth.
• For perspective on Schilling, examine Tom Glavine, who sailed into the Hall with 91.9 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot, in 2014. The two pitchers operated during almost the exact same period. Glavine does hold huge advantages in starts, innings pitched and victories (cracking the esteemed 300 mark), and longevity certainly is important. Still, here is how the two compare in some other areas.
Pitching WAR: Schilling 80.7 | Glavine 74.0
Total WAR: Glavine 81.5 | Schilling 79.9
WAA: Schilling 54.1 | Glavine 39.1
ERA+: Schilling 127 | Glavine 118
FIP: Schilling 3.23 | Glavine 3.95
K/BB: Schilling 4.4 | Glavine 1.7
• Still on the fence about Schilling? Consider that the three-time World Series champion is one of the best postseason performers in baseball history. In 19 career postseason starts, he went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, including a 2.06 ERA over seven Fall Classic outings. Schilling was the MVP of the 1993 National League Championship Series for the Phillies, threw a shutout in that year's World Series against Toronto, and he set a single-postseason record for strikeouts (56) for the 2001 D-backs. That year, he produced a 1.12 ERA, and Arizona won five of his six outings, which included three complete games and a shutout.