On the heels of a fine display against the Baltimore Orioles, Curt Schilling has now found himself in the media limelight twice this season (and by season, I include Spring Training). The first time was when he announced he was not retiring after the year as planned. The second was yesterday, when he somehow found himself in the middle of a furor about his bloody sock from three years ago. Apparently it was paint, not blood. Whatever.
Media limelight aside, Schilling now has three wins on the year to go with one loss and a 3.27 ERA. His WHIP is a scant 1.09, best since 2004, when he registered a 1.06 WHIP. In 2005, he had a 1.53 WHIP (worst WHIP since his final season as a reliever in 1991) and had a 1.22 WHIP last year. He had a 3.26 ERA in 2004, and his Opponents Batting Average is also virtually identical.
Curt Schilling is back.
I read a fascinating article yesterday on ‘The Hall of Could Have Been.’ It’s great stuff, check it out. Worth your time. Did you know Dave Kingman could have been a Hall of Famer if he had been a Boston Red Sox, or if Fred Lynn never was traded, he’d be in the Hall? Or get this — Matt Stairs — yes, that Matt Stairs — should be knocking on the door of the Hall by now.
It made me think about Curt Schilling, and why he decided not to retire. Why did he decide not to retire? Well, there are four simple reasons, and not necessarily in order: the desire is still there, the ability is still there, the dollars are still there, and it will strengthen his case for the Hall of Fame.
Schilling currently has a 210-139 record, 3,143.0 IP, 695 BB, 3,038 K (maybe that’s why he only whiffed three Orioles, to get the number 38 in there for five days!) and a 3.44 ERA. The top three pitchers that rank as being very similar to Schilling are Kevin Brown, Bob Welch, and Orel Hershiser. The top three through age 39 are Kevin Brown, Orel Hershiser, and David Cone. All three have such striking similarities in terms of career statistics and are in the Hall of the Very Good. This is where Curt Schilling belongs right now, but he’s got two distinct advantages. Firstly, he’s two wins away from having the most wins out of that group (Kevin Brown finished at 211) and should start distancing himself from that group by the end of this year in terms of win totals. Secondly, none of these pitchers — save perhaps Hershiser — have quite the aura Schilling does. Schilling teamed up with Randy Johnson to vanquish the Yankees in 2001, then led the Red Sox to the 2004 “curse-breaking” World Series — yes, with a bloody sock.
Here are Schilling’s Hall of Fame chances as drawn up by Baseball Reference:

Black Ink: Pitching – 43 (32) (Average HOFer Ç‚‡ 40)
Gray Ink: Pitching – 214 (32) (Average HOFer Ç‚‡ 185)
HOF Standards: Pitching – 47.0 (42) (Average HOFer Ç‚‡ 50)
HOF Monitor: Pitching – 167.0 (36) (Likely HOFer > 100)

Sure looks like a Hall of Famer to me, but at this point, I think he’s still stuck in the Hall of the Very Good, where Jim Rice is currently trying to bang down the door (except for the first and 15th of each month [fourth note down]).
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projects him to have a 13-9 record in 194.2 IP and a 4.02 ERA. Basically, a season much like last year’s. I think with the way Schilling is going, he’s going to end up around 16-7 with 211.2 IP (that’s simply his averaged innings per game now multiplied by 32) and an ERA in the 3.50s.
I like Prospectus’ PECOTA projection for what Schilling does in 2008, so let’s use those. After 2008, he would be sitting at 236 wins, and probably one year left in him, as he would likely sign a two-year deal with another team if he left via free agency. If he stayed with us, he would probably work on a year-to-year deal. Assume another 10 wins, and he retires with 246 with a liberal estimate, given he should win 13 games next year quite easily, and 10 the year after easier — unless all offense disappears for him and he pitches on a lousy team. We’re looking at 250 wins as a very reasonable estimate for his retirement after 2009.
Now that should get him into the Hall of Fame.
So to answer my question: While he has the standards according to Baseball Reference to get in, he’s still in the class of Kevin Brown, David Cone and Orel Hershiser — the Hall of the Very Good. By getting to 250 wins, he should achieve enough separation to go into the Hall wearing either a Phillies, Diamondbacks, or Sox hat. But we can debate his hat at a future time.
At this time?
Curt Schilling is back.
The results of the poll asking what we thought would happen during this upcoming series:

The Yankees series coming up in the Bronx will (try not to be a homer!):
* Give us yet another sweep!
5% of all votes
* See the Red Sox win 2 games to 1.
67% of all votes
* See the Yankees win 2 games to 1.
23% of all votes
* See the Yankees sweep us.
5% of all votes

I voted for the second option. I think we do have a good chance at a 2-1 series win, but Pettitte and Wang give the Yankees extremely strong cases for a 2-1 series win by them. New poll up!