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First Ballot or Last Ballot, Curt Schilling Belongs in the Hall of Fame

Curt Schilling Found Success at Every Stop and Deserves to Stand with Baseball's Greatest

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COMMENTARY | I remember my mom letting a coy "boo" slip out of her mouth whenever she heard Curt Schilling's name once he was traded from the Phillies to the Diamondbacks. A born and bred Philadelphian, she always took it to heart when any of her beloved Phillies left town in pursuit of a championship.

She never really hated them, or anyone for that matter. She just didn't like the idea that players thought their best chance to win a World Series was anywhere other than Philadelphia. Here in Philly, we're well aware we don't have the championship history of New York, but we always like to think next year will be different. Sue us.

Curt Schilling may not be a successful entrepreneur, and he was never popular with the writers who just so happen to control his fate when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Still, at some point Schilling should get the credit he deserves, not only as an outstanding pitcher but also as an important figure in the game's history.

He's not a first-ballot guy. Not by a long shot. He doesn't have the year-in and year-out dominance of Steve Carlton or Randy Johnson and will probably have to wait several years until he gets his day in Cooperstown. But make no mistake, Schilling was a pitcher most managers would comfortably hand the ball to in Game 7 of the World Series.

He was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series and a large part of the Diamondbacks defeating the heavily favored New York Yankees. A few years later he signed with the Boston Red Sox and was featured in a commercial during spring training claiming he had an 86-year-old curse to break.

All he did was go on to help break that curse, pitching on an injured ankle in the playoffs.

His win-loss record is what will hold him down. A modest 216 wins is hindered partially by nine seasons in Philadelphia, mostly while the team was rebuilding. After the trade in 2000, Schilling was 111-57 for a 0.661 win percentage.

A six-time All-Star, Schilling was a true power pitcher with 3,116 strikeouts, just one fewer than Bob Gibson who pitched 623 more innings in his career than Schilling, and just 711 walks. His career strikeouts per nine innings ratio is 8.6, higher than Hall of Famers Steve Carlton at 7.1 and Bert Blyleven at 6.7.

His career WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 1.137 is lower than Gibson at 1.188 and Greg Maddux at 1.143. His career ERA of 3.46 is lower than Tom Glavine's at 3.54. Maddux and Glavine will both make their first appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot next year.

Schilling's best overall season came in 2002 when he finished with a 23-7 record, 3.23 ERA, 316 strikeouts, 33 walks, and a 0.968 WHIP. He finished second in the Cy Young voting that season to teammate Randy Johnson, who had a slightly more dominating year.

Other notable accomplishments for Schilling include three seasons with 20 or more wins, three seasons with 300 or more strikeouts, and five seasons with more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Where Schilling really seals his Hall of Fame worth for me is in his postseason performances. He was 11-2 in 12 postseason series with a 2.23 ERA, 120 strikeouts, 25 walks, a 0.968 WHIP, and 4 complete games, including 2 shutouts.

In the World Series alone he is 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA, 43 strikeouts, 10 walks, and a miniscule 0.896 WHIP in 7 starts. His lone World Series loss came in 1993 when he was just 26.

When you take into account Schilling's postseason performances -- not just his much-debated "bloody sock" game -- he is worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame someday. Maybe not next year, maybe not even in 10 years, but someday.

I just hope he chooses to wear a Phillies cap.

Scott Lents is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker from Philadelphia. He is a freelance contributor to Yahoo! Sports and TheGamingAdvisory.com. For more baseball news, questions and comments follow Scott on Twitter: @scottlentz27.

All stats and figures courtesy of baseball-reference.com.

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