Baseball Hall of Fame voters are giving their yearly historical assessments. One name, thus far, has been an obvious omission: Curt Schilling. He should be in now. He should have been in on the first ballot.
Schilling had a four-season stretch from 2001-04 with the Diamondbacks and Red Sox where he was at or near baseball’s best pitcher. His WAR total was MVP caliber (8-plus) in 2001 and 2002 and just short (7.9) in 2004. He missed a third of the season in 2003. He led his league in strikeout to walk ratio all four seasons.
He posted three full seasons outside that prime (1992, 1997, 1998) with a FIP number below 3.00. He had eight total WAR seasons at all-star caliber (5-plus) and two more (4.8, 4.9) that were close.
Schilling is also one of the greatest postseason pitchers ever. He was consistently better when it mattered. He had an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP career during the postseason. One loss came in Game 1 of the World Series in 1992. He bounced back with a shutout in Game 5. The second came when he was injured in 2007.
Diamondbacks fans saw him dominate a great Yankees team in 2001. Red Sox fans saw him shut down teams when healthy-ish in 2004, following an experimental surgery procedure in 2004, and coasting on fumes in 2007.
Schilling wasn’t a shoo-in because of countable numbers. He wasn’t healthy enough in his 20s to amass 300 wins. But, the question should be whether there is enough of a sample size to assess him. There clearly was.
Ignoring Schilling’s post-career antics is hard. His publicly funded video game company was a catastrophic failure. His politics, even with the goalposts moved, are to the extreme far right. Few would condone him valuing keeping it real (and odious) on Facebook over his cushy ESPN analyst gig. But, we’re not evaluating him for a humanitarian award or potential political candidacy.
When Schilling was great, he was one of baseball’s greatest. He should be in the Hall of Fame.