Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Schilling's Mirror Image?

I've talked about over the past week about Curt Schilling and his retirement. The debate is currently going on about whether he will make it into Cooperstown with the other immortals. (I feel he merits it, whether on the first ballot or not.)

I got a fascinating email from my friend Dave yesterday, and he points an incredible comparison between Schilling's last 11 seasons and one of the game's all-time greats, and it is striking to say the least.

Dave wrote that the fine ESPN.com writer Rob Neyer pointed out this about Schilling:

On the day Curt Schilling turned 30 -- in 1996 -- his career record in the majors was 52 wins and 52 losses. Nobody would have given you a plugged nickel for his chances of someday getting his own plaque in Cooperstown.

And since turning 30? 164 wins, 94 losses.

Neyer feels Schilling is a first-ballot Hall of Famer because of what he did from the time of his 30th birthday on, and his postseason heroics. Here is what Curt did from 199-2007:

11 seasons, 164-94 win-loss, 9 saves, 2,316 strikeouts in 2,272 2/3 innings. 3.45 ERA versus league average of 4.60 (133 ERA+). 1.117 WHIP.

Superior numbers indeed. And then he pointed to the numbers of one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Can you guess who this is?

12 seasons, 165-87 win-loss, 9 saves, 2,396 strikeouts in 2,324 1/3 innings. 2.76 ERA versus league average of 3.62 (131 ERA+). 1.106 WHIP.

Those are the numbers of one Sandy Koufax. And it is his numbers over his entire career. Koufax' ERA is quite lower, but he also in pitched in era when pitchers dominated baseball. The ERA+ is adjusted for the league ERA of the time, and it is incredibly close. They both struck out more than 1 batter an inning. Schilling and Koufax were both thought of as just mediocre pitchers at the start of their careers (Schilling did blossom until 1992, five years in, and Koufax until 1961, six years in). They also were both on multiple World Series championship teams: Koufax four, and Schilling three.

Of course, when Koufax retired, no one thought he wasn't a Hall of Famer, as he was hands down the best pitcher in baseball for six years. Schilling didn't dominate the way Koufax did, as he never won a Cy Young Award or pitched any no-hitters.

But is incredible to see just how close the second-half of Schilling's career mirrored Koufax's career in terms of overall stats. You'd never think of them in the same category of pitching dominance, but it also helps Curt's cause of him joining Koufax among the game's immortals.

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