Until Curt Schilling joined the Phillies in 1992, he was a mediocre pitcher, and it seemed that his career would follow accordingly.
That all changed when he became a starter for the Phillies, as he won 14 games in his first season with them and had 10 complete games. In 1998, he led the league in complete games with 15. Throughout Schilling's career, he has been a great pitcher, but many will argue that he is not Hall of Fame worthy.
He has only 216 wins, which ranks him an unimpressive 81st all-time. Schilling ranks 14th all-time in strikeouts, but that won't stand for long as guys like Pedro and Mike Mussina are not far behind.
He has never won a Cy Young Award, which definitely hurts his case. On five occasions, he has been in the top 10 in home runs allowed, and he has never led his league in ERA.
After reading those numbers you will probably say that he isn't a Hall of Famer. However, this is why he deserves to be inducted:
Curt Schilling gets into the Hall of Fame because he will always be remembered for his Game 6 performance in the 2004 ALCS. That bloody sock re-wrote history, as the Red Sox went on to win that game and the next to complete the greatest comeback in sports history.
Schilling has always been known as a great postseason pitcher. In his 20-year career, he is 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA. Even more amazing is that his two losses came 12 years apart, with his first being in 1993 with the Phillies and his last being in Game One of the 2004 ALCS.
He has struck out 120 batters while only walking 25, showing his dominance of the strike zone when it mattered most.
Another impressive stat is Schilling's four complete games, three of which came in the 2001 playoffs. Of those four complete games, he pitched two shutouts.
This shows he is durable and he can give the bullpen a rest at a time when pitching is the most important. He has also won many awards, such as NLCS MVP, Lou Gehrig, NL Babe Ruth, Branch Rickey, Hutch, NL Roberto Clemente, NL Pitcher of the Year twice, and World Series MVP trophies.
One can argue that Schilling is the greatest postseason starting pitcher the game has ever seen. Now don't get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from guys like John Smoltz, Andy Pettitte, or even Josh Beckett, but Schilling has been out of this world during the playoffs.
My argument against Smoltz is that he has made it to the playoffs in what seems like every year, and has only one World Series ring to show for it. That is not necessarily his fault, but that is still taken into consideration.
Pettitte is tied with Smoltz for most wins all-time in the playoffs, and he has four rings. However, his ERA is almost a run and a half more than Schilling's.
Beckett has been to the playoffs twice and has two rings; his ERA is lower than Schilling's. Beckett is one of the best big-game pitchers the game has ever seen, but he is still building his legacy and has plenty of time left in his career.
Love him or hate him, no one can take away Schilling's playoff dominance. He is an above-average pitcher during the regular season, but come playoff time he steps it up.
There is no pitcher in the history of baseball who is as well-prepared for each start, as he is seen in the dugout between innings looking over notebook after notebook of information on each hitter.
It will be interesting to see what the voters say about Schilling's legacy. As I said, his Hall of Fame candidacy can be argued either way.
When his name is on the ballot, hopefully Schilling will get what he deserves and grace the halls of Cooperstown.