I have to say, I do understand some of the inexplicable Hall of Fame vote totals turned in year after year by the BBWAA. I disagree with them, but with some cursory study, one gains understanding:
Raines? Rickey was better.
Edgar? Didn't play the field.
Trammell? Didn't hit home runs.
McGriff? It isn't the 493 home run club.
Mussina. Not a winner (whatever that means).
You can make up anything you want, in lieu of actual comparative analysis, and clearly a good number of the BBWAA does just that. But one thing the writers usually pounce on, the one thing cited through the decades, is that magical veneer of a "champion": The number of rings the player has collected, no matter the contribution of his teammates. Don't confuse the issue! I thought I understood the voting writer. I no longer do. The Curt Schilling case has blown up all of this.
Schilling debuted on the ballot in 2013, picking up just under 39 percent of the necessary 75 percent for induction. Last year, with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas hitting the ballot for the first year, Schilling dropped to 29 percent. He's not even close, and dropping. This year, with Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz joining the party, expect the same.
First of all, I mock that magic "championship aura" surrounding only certain types of great men who wear cleats, but let's also not lose sight of the fact that the goal of Major League Baseball teams is to actually win World Series titles. Schilling helped his teams do so three different times, being a vital, irreplaceable member of the first two. In other words, without him, those clubs -- the 2001 Diamondbacks, and the curse-busting 2004 Red Sox -- do not win those championships.
I don't care how bloody that sock was, but if that isn't the stuff of lore, what is? Here's Schilling's postseason record:
IP: 133 1/3
Schilling is there with Christy Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, El Duque and anyone else in the history of postseason baseball. The upper echelon. "Winning," being "clutch," and creating baseball lore used to mean something to these voters. Somebody done changed the rules.
So let's hit the regular season. How many innings and how many runs? When you look at park and era-adjusted numbers, Schilling is one of the top 10 pitchers since World War II:
ERA+ Post-1945 (minimum: 2500 IP)
1. Pedro Martinez: 154
2. Roger Clemens: 143
3. Randy Johnson: 135
4. Whitey Ford: 133
5. Greg Maddux: 132
6. Roy Halladay: 131
7. Schilling: 127
Tom Seaver: 127
Bob Gibson: 127
Seaver and Gibson pitched more innings than Schilling, but inning for inning, adjusted for the run-scoring environment and parks, Schilling was just as good. Which ... is saying something.
A good way to measure a player's peak is to use War7 -- the cumulative WAR of a player's best 7 seasons. (Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus popularized this and it's quite useful.) Using WAR7, Schilling is the equal of HOFers Jim Bunning, Jim Palmer, and Bert Blyleven, and better than HOFers Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Catfish Hunter.
In case you think I'm cooking the books for a player with a good peak but no longevity, Schilling's career WAR is in the same area as Glavine, Ryan, and Sutton -- three HOFers known for their durability.
Yes, he had injuries, which limited his innings, but when he did play, he was durable within these particular seasons. Four times he topped 250 innings, finishing in the top three in innings pitched five different years. He led the league in complete games four times and topped 220 innings seven times. He pitched enough, had all-time run prevention and was a prime mover for championship clubs.
Yes, Schilling has the answers, but the writers changed the questions. I don't expect the wisdom of the crowd from the BBWAA, but consistency would be nice.