MLB

Curt Schilling May Be Divisive, but He Deserves a Hall of Fame Plaque

Former Boston Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling is waiting for his bronze plaque.

Schilling, the capable right-hander best known for his postseason heroics, has been on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot since 2013. Despite a star-studded resume, Schilling — who last pitched as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2007 — still hasn’t earned induction.

Schilling is a divisive candidate, in large part because of his political views. The time has come, however, for voters to finally give Schilling his due.

Curt Schilling had an excellent career

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Curt Schilling’s initial numbers may not pop off the page like other recent enshrinees.

Schilling didn’t reach 250 career victories, and his 3.46 ERA is fairly high. The durable right-hander never won a Cy Young Award and made six All-Star Games, a fine number but still fairly low.

The numbers don’t tell the full story about Schilling, who went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA and 3,116 strikeouts from 1988-2007. Schilling shook off some early struggles to become a workhorse ace and one of the greatest pitchers from the early 2000s.

From 1997-2007, Schilling won 164 games with a 3.45 ERA and struck out 2,316 hitters in 337 games, 315 of which he started.

According to Baseball-Reference, Schilling totaled 80.5 Wins Above Replacement in his career. Most of that WAR, 63.5, came in that 11-season stretch.

Schilling and his famous bloody sock are best known for the postseason. The excellent right-hander went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 career playoff starts, striking out 120 hitters and only walking 25 in 133.1 innings.

Schilling has been a divisive figure in retirement

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A large part of why Curt Schilling is not yet in the Hall of Fame is his political views and social media activity.

Schilling is an outspoken conservative and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. While at ESPN, Schilling often found himself in trouble for posting offensive memes.

As laid out by Awful Announcing, ESPN fired Schilling after posting a Facebook meme mocking trans people in April 2016. The year before, Schilling compared Muslim people to Nazis in a tweet that earned him a suspension from Sunday Night Baseball. 

ESPN promoted Jessica Mendoza to that role, and she stayed in the ‘SNB’ booth from 2016-19. 

It is time for Curt Schilling to enter the Hall of Fame

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Curt Schilling is a divisive candidate, and he hurt many people with his offensive posts.

Endorsing Schilling for the Hall of Fame is not excusing what he posted. The Hall of Fame has a character clause, and voters may feel compelled to use that as a reason not to elect Schilling.

Hall of Fames and museums are designed to promote history. The history of baseball cannot be told without Schilling and his pivotal role in breaking the Boston Red Sox’s 86-year title drought.

If Schilling did not have Hall of Fame-caliber numbers, this wouldn’t even be a conversation. But in the same way that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each deserve to be in for the historical aspect, Curt Schilling also falls into that category.

Schilling is one of the greatest playoff pitchers in modern history, and he had an excellent 11-year stretch with some of the sport’s top teams. He checks every box, and the voters know that; Schilling earned an even 70% percent last year.

The Hall of Fame does not round up, so Schilling needs to appear on at least 75% of ballots this year. If Schilling does not get in this year, he will have one more opportunity, in 2021, before his fate is left up to a committee in later years.

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.