There's no comparing Wells to Schilling

March, 24, 2009
I'm afraid Michael Celizic isn't quite as sanguine about Curt Schilling's Hall of Fame candidacy as I am.

Hat Guy:

    At the end of the day and the career, Schilling's record is 216-146 -- a .597 winning percentage. His career ERA is 3.47, which is excellent, but not all-time excellent. And if you want to argue his career credentials, go right ahead. But before you do, check out David Wells' career and postseason stats, which are in some ways better than Schilling's.

    Wells won 20 games only once, but finished with a 239-157 record for a .604 winning percentage. Both of those numbers are better than Schilling's. Wells' ERA was 4.13, considerably higher than Schilling's, but at least half of the difference can be attributed to Wells playing most of his career in the American League, where ERAs are higher because of the DH, and Schilling spent most of his in the National League.

A fatuous argument, as we shall see in a moment. But yesterday in this thread, a few other names were brought up. Let's take a peek …

Pitcher W-L Pct. ERA+ Postseason
Curt Schilling 216-146 .597 127 11-2, 2.23
David Wells 239-157 .604 108 10-5, 3.17
Kevin Brown 211-144 .594 127 5-5, 4.19
John Smoltz 210-147 .588 127 15-4, 2.65

The regular-season records of Schilling, Brown, and Smoltz are strikingly similar.

Now, it should be said (again) that a record of 216-146 -- or 211-144, or 210-147 -- does not by itself qualify one for Cooperstown's hallowed Hall. Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons finished 217-146. Lew Burdette finished 203-144. Bob Welch finished 211-146. None of those guys ever came close to getting elected to the Hall of Fame. Nor should they have.

More than 200 wins and a winning percentage near .600 is certainly impressive, but it's never been quite enough. You need something else, a little bit of oomph that might be a few particularly big seasons, a few sparkling October performances, or (in the case of guys like Jesse Haines and Stan Coveleski) a few good friends on the right committee.

Schilling has the big seasons and the sparkling Octobers.

Smoltz has the sparkling Octobers, too, plus 154 saves.

Kevin Brown doesn't have much going for him, and he's got his reputation going against him. He was better than a fair number of hurlers in the Hall of Fame. But he lacks any of that extra oomph.

And finally, we come to David Wells. Better than Brown in October, but not as good as Smoltz or Schilling. What's most striking, though, is that ERA+. When we read Celizic arguing that "at least half the difference" between Wells' raw ERA and Schilling's can be attributed to the difference between their leagues, should we assume he has sat down with his calculator and done all the figuring? Because there's a really, really, really big difference between a 127 ERA+ and a 108 ERA+. I mean, just in terms of wins and losses. If that's important at all.



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?