Schilling’s Numbers Are Not Hall of Fame Worthy

Curt Schilling is no stranger to controversy. In recent years, the former Red Sox ace has found trouble over the way he expresses his controversial beliefs. The debate has increased since becoming eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. Most Bostonians would vote for Schilling’s induction in a heart beat, but it’s not up to us. It’s up to the Baseball Writers Association of America and right now they’re not too fond of Schilling. I wouldn’t vote him in because Schilling’s numbers don’t warrant induction.

Much of the debate swirling around Schilling centers on his behavior. Many argue that hisSchilling's Numbers reputation for being hard to work with as well as his hardline political views are keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. That very well may be true. For me though, my opinion that he doesn’t deserve induction isn’t based on who he is or what he thinks. It’s the fact that his numbers, while strong, aren’t stellar enough to deserve induction.

Schilling has respectable numbers. He struck out over 3,000 batters, won more than 200 games, and played on three World Series-winning teams. Being a six-time All-Star, a World Series MVP, and winning 20 or more games in a season three times isn’t anything to forget about either. These numbers and accolades reflect an extraordinary career but fall short for many reasons.

First, there’s plenty of other pitchers that aren’t in the Hall of Fame who posted much stronger career stats than Schilling’s numbers. Luis Tiant, another former Boston ace, had more 20 game-winning seasons and retired with a lower ERA. Jim Kaat not only played in four different decades, but also racked up 283 wins and 16 Gold Glove Awards. Then there’s Tommy John, a four-time All-Star whose name is synonymous with career-saving surgery for pitchers. While none of these three men topped 3,000 strikeouts, or played a key role in winning a World Series, their contributions to baseball outweigh Schilling’s.

Going back to Schilling’s numbers, it’s his post-season stats that most people focus on as justification for induction. He won eleven games in the post-season, was named the 1993 NLCS MVP, and the 2001 World Series MVP. There’s also the bloody sock! Again, these stats are amazing, but no so much that they merit a place for him in Cooperstown. Additionally, Schilling isn’t the only one to accomplish such great feats (except for the bloody sock, that WAS an amazing). Jack Morris, who won four World Series titles, was the 1991 World Series MVP after throwing 10 innings in Game 7 to win it for the Minnesota Twins. By the way, Morris had much better numbers than Schilling and he’s not in the Hall of Fame either.

Schilling’s Numbers Don’t Warrant Induction

Schilling is a long ways away from crossing the necessary 75% threshold for induction. He received only 38.8% of the votes in 2013, and 39.2% last year. He might gain more votes if he decided to tone down his political views, but he’s entitled to say what he wants.  However, he can’t control the way others respond to him, including the Hall of Fame voters. If he had stronger numbers, voters might choose to shrug off his views and vote him in. But Schilling doesn’t have the numbers.

Playing Major League Baseball is for the exceptional. But induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is for the elite. Curt Schilling was no doubt an exceptional player.

But among the elite? No.

Pedroia, Not Ortiz, is the Red Sox Backbone

David Ortiz received a tremendous amount of attention this season due to his retirement. A bridge bears his name, he’s a member of the 500 HR Club, and he’s a true humanitarian. Ortiz, however, has certainly overshadowed his teammates, specifically Dustin Pedroia. As the Red Sox Backbone, Pedroia, not Ortiz, is the team’s true leader.

Players like Pedroia are a rarity in baseball today. He’s a man who comes to the ballparkred sox backbone ready to play no matter what. He doesn’t hesitate to admonish other players. He plays with an intensity hardly seen in other ballplayers. That’s not to say other ballplayers don’t work hard or care about the game. The difference though is that Pedroia is ALWAYS in this frame of mind. Whether you see him on or off the field, or before or after a game, the man constantly focuses on winning.

Pedroia a beast. He won the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and a World Series title. He won the AL MVP Award the following season and took home a Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove Award. The four-time All-Star, and four-time Gold Glove winner collected 201 hits this season. At the age of 33, when many players are seeing their abilities deteriorate, Pedroia’s are holding steady. It’s not just his accolades and numbers that make him such a good player though. It’s his ability to motivate his teammates that makes him the Red Sox backbone.

David Ortiz is a Red Sox Legend, But Pedroia is the Red Sox Backbone

Regardless of whether the Red Sox win the World Series this year, Pedroia is clearly on his way to achieving legendary status. While largely responsible for the Red Sox success, Pedroia contributes to the success of others, too. Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi currently lives with Pedroia, who couldn’t be a more perfect mentor. Pedroia is not afraid to have “Come to Jesus” meetings on the mound with Eduardo Rodriguez. When it comes to breaking records, it’s clear that Pedroia cares more about success than personal gain.

Pedroia Doesn’t Care About Records

When Pedroia came within a hair’s breath of tying MLB’s consecutive hits record this season (which is 12), the second baseman didn’t give it much attention. “I heard something, but I didn’t know what it was,” Pedroia told CBS Sports. “I was going to the bathroom, and I heard them say it on TV. I didn’t really catch what they were saying.” In fact, Pedroia doesn’t have much tolerance for trivial matters. When told that he had a 16-game hitting streak going, Pedroia didn’t care. “I don’t give a $#!t,” he told Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “I’m just playing the game. That’s my job, to go out there and play and help us win games.”

Like Bobby Doerr before him, Pedroia brings a quiet but forceful intensity to the game. And like Doerr, there’s no doubt that Pedroia will one day get inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame where he will join other Red Sox legends, including David Ortiz.

Red Sox Erasing Doubt In A.L. East

For most of the summer, Red Sox fans were looking forward to the final series of the season. The three-game set at Fenway against Toronto was almost surely going to determine the winner of the A.L. East. However, the Red Sox were determined to make that series meaningless. Since a 1-0 loss to Baltimore on September 14th, the Red Sox have yet to lose a game. Along the way, they have put the division crown out of reach for everyone else.

Sunday was just another day at the office for the Boston Red Sox. In another low-scoring A.L. Eastgame at “the Trop” in Tampa, Boston outlasted the Rays 3-2 in ten innings. The win marked the third straight series sweep and 11th straight win for the division leaders. The day was marked by 22 strikeouts by Red Sox pitching, an unbelievable base-running play by Dustin Pedroia, and a gutsy bullpen effort by Joe Kelly.

The streak has put the Red Sox five and a half games up on second place Toronto and seven up on Baltimore. Excellent starting pitching and a virtually unhittable bullpen are propelling the Red Sox right now. Add that to the league’s best offense, and the Red Sox are far and away the hottest team in all of baseball. After the win Sunday, Boston’s magic number to clinch the A.L. East is down to two.

Beyond The A.L. East Title

Not to get ahead of ourselves, the Red Sox will have meaningful games next weekend. While they should have already clinched the division, a much more important title may be at stake. With a playoff spot in tact, the Red Sox now eye home field advantage. They are just one behind the Texas Rangers in the loss column. If they were to pass the Rangers, they would own the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

To think that the Red Sox could possibly have that title just a few weeks ago would have been absurd. With their best baseball of the season this month though, that’s where they find themselves. The Red Sox just surpassed Cleveland in the best-record race, meaning they would host the Indians in the ALDS if the season ended today. This offense is so good it really doesn’t matter where they play, but playing at Fenway would be a huge bonus. With that, the Red Sox could even find a way to slug themselves to the World Series. Luckily for the them, the pitching has been the brightest part if this September run.

Obviously, a run like this can not be expected in the playoffs. If they can keep up this pitching however, you can expect them to represent the American League in the World Series. As we all know, once you get there, anything can happen. Bottom line: don’t count out the Red Sox this October.

 

Bartolo Colon a Great Target for the Red Sox

Following Wednesday night’s game, it is becoming clearer that the Red Sox need to acquire starting pitching and one target not being talked about is New York Mets starter Bartolo Colon. Yes, that is the 43 year old Colon who throws an 88 MPH fastball on average according to FanGraphs. Colon would bring stability at the back end of the Sox rotation and the ability to eat innings as an established veteran starting pitcher.

Colon has a 3.39 ERA this year for the Mets with 45 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched.Bartolo Colon These numbers would be very strong in the Sox rotation. However, in the Mets starting rotation, Bartolo Colon currently serves as the 5th starter behind Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey.

Noah Syndergaard: 63.2 IP, 81 Strikeouts, 1.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

Jacob DeGrom: 55 IP, 47 Strikeouts, 2.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Steven Matz: 55.1 IP, 53 Strikeouts, 2.60 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

Matt Harvey: 60.1 IP, 50 strikeouts, 5.37 ERA, 1.54 WHIP

Looking at these four guys, some may say that Harvey should be the odd man out in the Mets rotation. There were some questions about whether or not the Mets would demote him so he could work on his game before his last start in which he silenced those critics with 7 shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox. Harvey has been a top prospect in the Mets system and he has a bright future, meaning the organization will not start Bartolo Colon ahead of him. If Colon is the fifth starter and is pitching at such a level, why would the Mets deal him?

The Mets have another elite young starting pitcher rehabbing from a Tommy John surgery, 26 year old Zack Wheeler. Wheeler put together two productive seasons at the major league level before going down with the elbow injury. In 285.1 innings in the majors, Wheeler has a 3.50 ERA with 271 strikeouts. While Wheeler is no guarantee to come back strong, Colon will be the odd man out if he does return. If this is the case, the Red Sox should make the move for Colon.

Bartolo Colon is on a one year deal worth $7.25 million for the 2016 season. The Red Sox could take on this contract and the Mets may even be willing to eat some of it if the Sox throw in an offensive piece that could improve upon the Mets 26th ranked offense. While some may want one of the younger arms from the Mets such as a Steven Matz, the Mets likely will not give these young arms away unless they get an outstanding offer.

Pitching has proved to be the key to World Series championships and the Mets have plenty of it. The Sox have the offense to make a run at a championship but they need improved starting pitching and Colon gives them a cheap but solid option to bolster their staff.

Dustin Pedroia is Back to his Best

This season, Red Sox Nation has lavished praise on numerous players, but the reemergence of Dustin Pedroia as an elite performer hasn’t received enough attention. Perhaps that’s due to the consistent, understated nature of his excellence, or perhaps its due to the success of younger players like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. However, the gritty second baseman is finally healthy and back to his best, which should excite fans throughout baseball, not just in Boston.

Dustin Pedroia

Last year, Pedroia was hobbled by hamstring injuries that limited him to just 93 games. Around the league, some experts began to question whether he’d lost a step on defense, and the future appeared more uncertain than ever for the cornerstone icon. Yet so far this season, Pedey has proved the doubters wrong. Through thirty-seven games, he’s hitting .299 with a .349 on-base percentage, 6 home runs and 20 RBI. While other players have gained greater recognition, Dustin Pedroia is still the linchpin of this Red Sox batting order. He still sets the tone for what has become an offensive juggernaut.

Even at 32-years old, you can make the case for Pedroia as one of baseball’s greatest second basemen. Sure, Jose Altuve is a phenomenon; Robinson Cano is historically good; and Daniel Murphy is having an inspired time with the bat. But Dustin Pedroia can still mix with the best of them. Right now, Fangraphs ranks him as the best defensive player at his position this season. That concept is affirmed when watching games, because Pedroia is still capable of sublime, ranging plays that take your breath away. While second base has become more of an offensive position, Pedroia’s bat still plays really well there, and he currently ranks seventh in Wins Above Replacement among second-sackers.

However, as Vin Scully once said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.” You cannot get an accurate read on the importance of Dustin Pedroia to the Red Sox merely by looking at reams of data. It’s important to watch the games, see his maximum effort, and appreciate the way he grind through every pitch on both sides of the ball. Dustin is a real leader, and he embodies the heart and soul of Boston baseball.

Dustin Pedroia Back to His Best

Pedroia’s competitive instinct is well documented. He never stops fighting, and isn’t content to walk off the field with a clean uniform. Dustin focuses on the minutiae perhaps more than any player in the game today, as demonstrated by his noticing a change in the delivery of David Price. Nowadays, baseball players can often get lazy. Exorbitant salaries can blunt the desire to win, as Red Sox Nation has discovered with many expensive flops. Overall, the game is played a bit more sloppily than it used to be, but Dustin Pedroia is a throwback to a bygone age of intense competition, and that can only have a positive impact on the Red Sox.

Right now, it’s still too early to tell what Boston may achieve this season. The Sox are fighting Baltimore for supremacy in the East, but modern baseball seems to be more unpredictable than ever before. Still, you get the feeling that this offense is capable of something truly special, and that postseason ball could return to Fenway Park this fall. Dustin Pedroia has already been a key figure in two World Series championships, and he’s definitely the kind of guy who can carry a team in October.

That may be a long way off, but there’s a certain magic in the air. Pedey is back to his elite level, and that is huge for a franchise that relies on his spirit as much as his talent.

Could Ortiz Match Williams In His Final At-Bat?

Few Hall of Famers can say that their final Major League at-bat was a memorable one. Mickey Mantle popped out to Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocello in 1968, who by then was merely a shadow of the player he once was. Babe Ruth, playing his final year for the Boston Braves in 1935, grounded out, a less than stellar ending to a career that had all but turned into an embarrassment (A pinch runner often took Ruth’s place in his last season because he had become too heavy to run). Even our own Carl Yazstrezemski’s final at-bat was uninspiring as he popped out in the bottom of the seventh against the Indians in Ortiz Match Williams1983. Many in the Red Sox Nation are hoping that David Ortiz won’t go the way of Mantle, Ruth, and Yazstremski when he takes his last at bat this season. In fact, I’m hoping he’ll leave the game the same way Ted Williams did, but in the post-season instead  of the regular season.

Ted Williams, a.k.a. the Splendid Splinter, bid adieu to baseball on September 28th, 1960 when he hit a solo home run to center off of Baltimore’s Jack Fisher in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Sox the edge in a 5-4 win. No other Hall of Famer had ever homered in his last at-bat, and none to date have done it since (as far as I know). But that was in a year when the Red Sox weren’t playoff contenders (they finished 7th in the American League with a 65-89 record). So if the Red Sox make the playoffs this season after a two-year hiatus, Ortiz might not only leave the game in a memorable way of his own, but might do so at Fenway Park during the World Series, perhaps with a home run of his own.

Winning the World Series for Boston with a home run is a LONG shot for Ortiz, and many factors would have to align perfectly in order for there to even be a chance of that happening (If Ortiz pulled that off I’d push to have the Baseball Hall of Fame’s five-year waiting period waived so he could be inducted right away). But if the Sox reach the playoffs, then Ortiz will have a chance to reclaim his role as a clutch hitter (he did hit five home runs and batted .400 in fourteen playoff games in 2004, including a game-winning home run in Game 4 of the ALCS). So if Price and Bucholtz throw the heat, Bogaerts hits over .300, and Betts and Bradley Jr. keep playing like the Gold Glove winners that they are, then I think it will be safe to dream about what Big Papi will do in his final at-bat. Whether it will be with a home run or not remains to be seen. But when we’re talking about Big Papi, anything is possible!