Just a little more than three weeks from now, on January 22, 2019, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the names of those voted in to the Class of 2019.
Based on publicly revealed ballots making up 1/3 of the total eligible voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, it appears certain that Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, and former Blue Jays and Phillies ace Roy Halladay will certainly make the cut.
It will be a close call for former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees stud pitcher Mike Mussina. And a pair of players still be punished for their involvement with PEDs, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, are also receiving strong support but are likely to fall just short this time around.
Schilling was running at around 72.9% of the votes received and made publicly available by early on Saturday afternoon, January 29, 2018 as tabulated by Ryan Thibodaux. Rolen was at just 19.4% of those publicly announced votes. It takes a minimum of 75% support for a player to be elected for enshrinement.
Under the current voting rules, players must have completed participation in ten seasons in order to become eligible for consideration. The player must then have been formally retired from Major League Baseball for five full seasons. Players who pass away within that five-year period are eligible six months after their death.
If a player does not receive the 75% of the votes needed in order for election, they can remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for nine more years. However, if a player received less than 5% support in any voting year they are dropped from the ballot and will received no further consideration until a special committee process can evaluate them.
For Schilling, this marks his seventh year on the ballot. A year ago, he finished with 51.2% of the vote. That was up from 45% in 2017, and just 39.2% in 2015. This is just Rolen’s second year on the ballot after receiving 10.2% of the vote a year ago.
THE CASE FOR CURT
Schilling enjoyed a storied 20-year career in Major League Baseball. He began as a reliever with the Baltimore Orioles (1988-90) and Houston Astros (1991) before receiving his big break.
Just as the 1992 season was set to open, the Philadelphia Phillies obtained Schilling in trade from Houston in a straight-up deal for Jason Grimsley. Phillies skipper Jim Fregosi would insert him into the starting rotation in mid-May, and there he would stay.
Over nine seasons with the Phillies from 1992-2000, Schilling would go 101-78 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.120 WHIP. He allowed just 1,444 hits over 1,659.1 innings with 1,554 strikeouts across 242 appearances, 226 of those as a starter.
Schilling was an NL All-Star for three consecutive seasons from 1997-99 while with the Phillies. The big right-hander also finished fourth in the 1997 NL Cy Young Award voting after a season in which he won 17 games and led baseball with 319 strikeouts for a team that won just 68 games.
It was with the 1993 Phillies magical NL pennant-winning team that Schilling took the first steps in what became one of baseball’s all-time greatest careers as a postseason performer.
He was stellar in starting Games 1 and 5 of the Phillies upset of the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. He surrendered just three earned runs and 11 hits over 16 innings as the Phillies won both games. For those performances, Schilling was named the Most Valuable Player of the NLCS.
Then after a lackluster outing in Game 1 of the World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, Schilling kept the Phillies alive with a sparkling five-hit, complete game shutout in Game 5 of that Fall Classic.
Schilling would be dealt to Arizona at the 2000 non-waiver trade deadline. There he would be named the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 World Series in helping to lead the Diamondbacks to their lone world championship. He would also add two more NL All-Star teams and a pair of Cy Young runner-up finishes to his resumé while pitching in the desert.
Just prior to the Winter Meetings in November 2003, Schilling was traded again, this time to the Boston Red Sox. There he would finish as runner-up for the Cy Young Award for a third time.
He would help end the 86-year ‘Curse of the Bambino‘ as the Bosox won the 2004 World Series. Included in that run was the legendary ‘Bloody Sock’ performance in Game 6 of the ALCS comeback victory over the arch-rival New York Yankees. Then in his career finale, Schilling would again help Boston to another world championship in 2007.
Over his full career, Schilling put together a 216-146 record with a 3.46 ERA and 1.137 WHIP. He allowed 2,998 hits over 3,261 innings while striking out 3,116 batters across 569 appearances.
Schilling was a three-time World Series champion, six-time All-Star, three-time runner-up for the Cy Young Award, and received MVP votes in four seasons. He also won the 1995 Lou Gehrig Award.
For his fabulous 2001 performance he won not only that World Series MVP Award, but also was honored with the NL Babe Ruth Award, the Branch Rickey Award, and the Roberto Clemente Award. In both 2001 and 2002 he was named as The Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year.
He led all of baseball in Innings Pitched on two occasions and won 20+ games three times. In 19197-98 with the Phillies he registered back-to-back seasons of 300+ strikeouts.
Take a look at those qualifications again. This is a no-doubt Hall of Famer who should be enshrined by now. Schilling, a political and social conservative, is likely being held back by controversial political and social commentary made public over the last handful of years.
SCOTT’S SHOT AT THE HALL
Rolen was the Phillies second round choice in the 1993 MLB Amateur Draft and made his big-league debut with the team in a 1996 season that was cut short by injury. On his full-season return in 1997, Rolen was named as the National League Rookie of the Year.
The following season, Rolen received National League Most Valuable Player votes for the first of what would be four times in his career. He also was honored with his first of eight career NL Gold Glove Awards at third base. For me, Rolen is third behind only Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt as a defender at the hot corner.
Over parts of seven seasons with the Phillies, Rolen slashed .282/.373/.504, slamming 150 homers and 207 doubles. He was traded away at the 2002 MLB non-waiver trade deadline to the Saint Louis Cardinals as part of a five-player deal in which the Phillies received Placido Polanco in return. Rolen won a 2002 NL Silver Slugger following that season.
With the Cardinals, Rolen made four consecutive NL All-Star appearances from 2003-06, won Gold Gloves in three of those four seasons, and helped lead Saint Louis to the World Series championship in 2006. He finished fourth in the 2004 NL MVP voting after a season in which he slammed 34 home runs and produced 124 RBI while hitting .314 with a .409 on-base percentage.
After a season-and-a-half with the Toronto Blue Jays, Rolen wrapped his career by playing four seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. He added on two more NL All-Star appearances and a final Gold Glove with the Reds, though most of those final four years were marred by injuries that robbed him of much of his power.
Over 17 seasons, Rolen finished with 2,077 hits and 316 home runs. He drove in 1,287 runs and scored 1,211 times. His career 70.2 WAR places him 67th all-time in Major League Baseball among position players. While WAR is not the be-all and end-all of baseball statistics, it has become accepted as an extremely reliable barometer of a player’s performance and value when compared to others.
That 70.2 mark puts him ahead of many Hall of Famers, including the likes of Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlton Fisk, Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks, Roberto Alomar, Willie McCovey, Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson, Willie Stargell, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Rice, Lou Brock, and many more.
But perhaps his most impressive career ranking comes in the JAWS ranking of all third basemen in the entire history of Major League Baseball. There Rolen ranks 10th all-time. The only players ahead of him are eight Hall of Famers and Adrian Beltre, who will certainly be one during the next decade.
WHEN MIGHT WE SEE THEM MAKE IT
Schilling will join Bonds and Clemens, possibly Mussina if he falls short again this time, and Larry Walker in his final year on the ballot as the other favorites for election. The following year, for the Class of 2021, all but Walker will again be under consideration with no newcomers to the ballot likely to make the cut.
Rolen is likely to take some time. He is the type of player whose career is going to come more into focus and be appreciated as each year of consideration rolls on. An extremely hopeful sign that the BBWAA will get it right eventually? Today’s public results show that 42.9% of first-time voters cast a ballot for him.
Schilling and Rolen were teammates for parts of five seasons from 1996-2000 with the Phillies. Those were losing seasons for the team, during which ownership was unwilling to lay out money to improve the product on the field as they lobbied for new ballpark to replace Veteran’s Stadium.
Both Schilling and Rolen were legitimate stars who went public with their dissatisfaction in playing for a team that was going nowhere. Those public proclamations didn’t always go over well with the Phillies fan base and were the primary reasons behind each of their departures.
Fact is, the two players were right. Phillies ownership was refusing to put money into the team. This doomed the two stars to years of losing baseball with little support. The Phillies went just 352-458 during those 1996-2000 seasons. It would all turn begin to turn around for the franchise over the next couple of years, but by then the two were gone.
Schilling was eventually honored with a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame. He was given that ultimate franchise honor during the summer of 2013. Rolen will hopefully join him on that wall during some future summer.
This year, I voted for both Schilling and Rolen in my IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. I will certainly continue to vote for both players any year that they appear on that ballot. I firmly believe that sometime in the coming years both of these former Phillies and overall baseball greats will receive their day in the summer sun with a Baseball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony at Cooperstown, New York.
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