According to a pretty good source, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has decided to retire from baseball.
You had to figure it was a strong possibility given how the past year has gone for #38, but the news still creates a stir of emotions and memories. For brief period between 2004 and 2005, Schilling was easily the most worshiped figure in New England (even more so than that 2,000-year-old bearded dude). Although he’s become more of a polarizing figure of late, he’s still a revered icon for the most part. Rightfully so, I’d say.
So, the big question we now ask ourselves is: does Curt belong in the Hall of Fame?
Let’s first leave the post-season heroics out of the equation, and judge him solely on his cold, hard, regular season numbers. Curt was a late bloomer, pitching out of the bullpen until age 25, having some inconsistent success in his mid-20′s, but not really making the leap into stardom until age 29. Thus, his counting stats leave a little to be desired.
The top 10 most comparable pitchers, per Baseball Reference, are:
- Kevin Brown
- Bob Welch
- Orel Hershiser
- Freddie Fitzsimmons
- John Smoltz
- Milt Pappas
- Don Drysdale
- Dazzy Vance
- Jim Perry
- Catfish Hunter
Of this list, 3 guys are currently Hall of Famers (2 of whom are deserving of the honor), 1 active pitcher will be in Cooperstown, and 1 guy should eventually be in Cooperstown (but won’t make it, primarily due to his caustic personality). In other words, Curt isn’t really a slam dunk in either direction.
However, some points in his favor:
- Curt’s ERA+ is better than that of the 3 Hall of Famers on the above list.
- Curt’s K/BB ratio (4.38) is the best of all time among qualified pitchers. Read that again: Curt Schilling has the best strikeout to walk ratio in baseball history. For reference, his ratio is slightly higher than the likes of Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera, two of the greatest pitchers ever to toe the rubber.
So, let’s say we’ll be conservative and call it a tie based on these quantitative factors. If we can agree that it’s a tie, what would be the tie breaker? You start moving into post-season records, intangibles, anecdotes.
In other words: I think he’s in.