Baseball Hall of Fame Debate: Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina

Marco RomanellCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2009

DENVER - OCTOBER 28:  Curt Schilling #38 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after winning Game Four by a score of 4-3 to win the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series in a four game sweep of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 28, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The stellar careers of both Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling ended this offseason, but are they Hall of Fame worthy?

Curt Schilling announced his retirement Tuesday at the age of 42. Schilling’s announcement comes a few months after Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina called it quits; leaving the debate open as to if these two are hall of fame worthy.

Both pitchers were two of the better pitchers of their era and pitched in an era where the batters were stronger and more talented then they were at anytime in the history of baseball.

Baseball is a game of numbers and if there are many statistics used to judge if a pitcher is worthy of hall of fame induction.

Wins is often the first stat voters look at and Mussina has the advantage there. Mussina has a career 270-153 record to a record of only 216-143 for Schilling. Three hundred wins was often used as the barometer for induction into the Hall of Fame, but in this era, it is likely we will never see another 300 game winner.

Despite having 54 less wins Schilling won 20 games or more three times compared to only one for Mussina.

Both pitchers had stellar earned run averages with Mussina ending with 3.68 era and Schilling ending with 3.46 ERA. Schilling had 3,116 career strikeouts to only 2,813 for Mussina. The 3,000 strikeout mark is another barometer used when evaluating pitchers careers.

Many voters will look at how many awards each pitcher won and how the performed in big games. Schilling is referred as one of the most “clutch” pitchers of all time and has an 11-2 postseason record which is best in MLB history.  Schilling had a 2.23 postseason earned run average which also ranks as one of the best in postseason history. 3 World Series titles and 1 World Series MVP makes Schilling one of the best post season pitchers of all time.

Mike Mussina was viewed by many to be a pitcher who chokes under pressure. Mussina has a 7-8 career record in the postseason and has never been to a World Series. A 3.40 postseason earned run average is respectable but not nearly the sparkling ERA that Schilling had. Many feel Mussina’s inability to make a World Series will help cement his legacy as being a good pitcher but not one who is Hall of Fame caliber.

Schilling is remembered for one of the most “heroic” performances of all time when he pitched in Game Six of 2004 ALCS in the famous “bloody sock” game. This game helped cement his legacy has one of toughest and best big game pitchers of all time, something which could lead him to Cooperstown.

While baseball is a stats oriented game, I believe there is other criteria that should be used when determining if a player is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.

Neither player had a great relationship with the media and that is often something that the voters hold against a player when voting, take Jim Rice as an example. Schilling was not afraid to speak his mind on any topic while Mussina was often short and cold with media and was viewed as arrogant. I do not believe a player’s relationship with the media should be used as criteria for hall of fame induction.

I believe that there are two major factors people should look when deciding a player’s hall of fame eligibility. First off there is the “eyeball test”, does the player “look” like a Hall of Famer. Second, how feared was the player by other players his era and lastly how dominate were they.

In all these areas Curt Schilling seems to have the advantage over Mussina. Schilling has the look of a Hall of Famer more then Mussina does and his power and strikeout ability made him more dominated.

From about 1999-2007 Schilling was one of the most feared pitchers in Major League Baseball. If you asked any opposing batter who they were more scared to face, the answer would likely comeback as Schilling. His power, outspokenness, fear and toughness made it a chore for any batter to face him.

While you can not hold against Mussina for being a “finesse” pitcher, many his in ability to strike fear in the heart of opposing batters is something that might be taken into account.

I believe that both pitchers had stellar careers and their cases will be tough to decide on when they become eligible for the hall in five years.

Despite 56 less wins, I believe Curt Schilling is more hall of fame worthy then Mike Mussina and will get in before Mussina, if Mussina gets in at all.

When deciding on the Hall of Fame candidacy I just hope that voters will take into account all the factors that I stated and not vote on what kind of relationship they had with the player for their sake and the sake of the baseball.