July 29, 2021

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Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame case: Post-retirement controversies meet special career

3 min read

Curt Schilling would be one of the best pitchers ever held out of the Hall of Fame if he fails to meet the 75 percent voting threshold Tuesday night or in his final eligible appearance on the ballot in 2022.

His numbers and three World Series rings elevate his on-field impact above the likes of Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Jim Palmer. He was rarely considered a top-three pitcher in any given season, never winning a Cy Young award, but he was consistently excellent over his 20-year MLB career. Few starters manage to be effective into their 40s.

Schilling’s post-retirement antics would be the primary reason for a Hall of Fame snub. He’s promoted conspiracy theories and engaged in rhetoric offensive to people who are transgender, Muslim and Black. He’s doubled and tripled down on intolerant stances over time, never recognizing how his words might legitimately advance hateful ideologies in America.

Before 2021, Schilling had polled better than accused PED users such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on Hall of Fame ballots. Regardless of whether he gets in this year (he received 70 percent of the vote last time), he’s expected to continue outpacing those players.

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Below is a look at the numbers that make Curt Schilling a Hall of Fame hopeful, as well as an explanation of how he’s tanked his own case.

Statistical Hall of Fame case for Curt Schilling

Clemens is the only pitcher with a higher career WAR than Schilling who is not in the Hall of Fame — a testament to Schilling’s production through a PED-aided era of smashed home run records.

Schilling became better once he reached October, posting a 2.23 career playoff ERA in a substatial sample of 19 starts. He won World Series MVP for his memorable three-start performance in 2001 against the favored Yankees before creating an even more iconic moment when he pitched through an ankle injury in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.

There are 80 pitchers inducted in the Hall of Fame. Here’s where Schilling ranks among historic MLB hurlers:

  • 79.5 WAR (26th all-time among pitchers)
  • 64.1 JAWS (27th)
  • 3,116 strikeouts (15th)
  • 216 wins (T-86th)
  • 127 ERA+ (T-40th)
  • 436 starts (95th)
  • Four top-five Cy Young finishes (T-24th)

Character Hall of Fame case against Curt Schilling

If Schilling had made a single controversial comment since retirement, it would have perhaps been swept aside by voters. But he just keeps talking.

There were the posts that got him fired from ESPN. There was the endorsement of violence against journalists. There was his response to Adam Jones’ encounter with racism at Fenway Park. There was his response to the Bubba Wallace noose incident.

After the latest round of Hall of Fame voting took place, Schilling dug himself deeper by offering apparent support for the mob that charged the U.S. Capitol last month. That comment will almost certainly harm his vote tally next year if he isn’t inducted this time.

“Sit back (shut up) and watch folks start a confrontation for s— that matters like rights, democracy and the end of (government) corruption. #itshappening,” Schilling tweeted about the insurrection.

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