The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #16. Our mission is to assess the Top 100 Phillies players of all time using impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics as our criteria. The list was compiled by Ian Riccaboni and Pat Gallen with input from the rest of the Phillies Nation staff.
From this point forward, each weekday, we will reveal two Phillies from the PN Top 100 in separate posts. To view the players listed thus far, please click here. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.
Please check back this afternoon for #15.
#16 – Curt Schilling
101-78, 3.35 ERA, 1.120 WHIP in 1659.1 IP
Previous Rank: 12 (-4)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 4th among pitchers, 10th among Phillies
Signature Season: Went 17-11 with a 2.97 ERA and MLB-best 319 K in 1997 for the 68-94 Phillies
Signature Moment: Threw a complete-game shutout in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series at Veterans Stadium to force a Game 6
Made three-straight All-Star teams (1997-1999), 1993 NLCS MVP
After losing Game 1 of the 1993 World Series, Curt Schilling found himself taking the mound at the Vet, his team down three-games-to-one, and less than 24 hours removed from one of the toughest-to-swallow losses in franchise history. Just one night earlier, Larry Andersen and Mitch Williams had combined to cough up a 14-9 lead in the 8th inning of Game 4, a sequence that concluded in a go-ahead two-run triple off the bat of Devon White. If the Phillies wanted to have any chance of winning the 1993 World Series, they needed to turn to an ace, someone to stop the bleeding.
Luckily, they had just the guy.
Schill would go the distance in front of 62,000+ screaming fans at the Vet, striking out six and shutting out the very team that had put up a 15-spot the night before. Schilling got the 1993 Phillies one more game. And arguably, Schilling was the pitcher most responsible for getting them to the World Series in the first place: the eventual 1993 NLCS MVP had pitched 16 innings in the Championship Series with a 1.69 ERA to help dispatch the two-time defending NL Champion Braves in six games.
Schilling’s dominant performance was, at that point, very unexpected. Acquired for Jason Grimsley on April 2, 1992 after spending time in Boston, Baltimore, and Houston’s systems, Schilling would very quietly have a very impressive season: in his first year with the Phillies, Schilling would start 26 games, appear in 16 more, post a 2.35 ERA, and throw ten complete games. In a time when advanced statistics weren’t very big, Schilling led the NL in WHIP (0.990) and was the toughest pitcher to get a hit off of (6.6 H/9 IP). Despite a decline across the board, casual fans began to notice Schilling’s performance when he posted a 16-7 record for the Macho Row Phils.
If casual Phillies fans didn’t know who Schilling was, they certainly did by the end of the 1993 season. By 1999, Schilling had made three-straight NL All-Star teams, finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 1997. Schilling led the NL in strikeouts in 1997 and 1998 and pitched an astonishing 15 complete games in 1998.
Among Phillies, Schilling ranks third among Phillies starters in K/9 IP, only behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Schilling ranks sixth in Phillies history in wins, seventh in starts, eighth in IP, 37th in ERA among starters, and fourth in strikeouts. Schilling went 101-78 (56.4%) games for the Phillies playing for teams that went a combined 717-751 (48.8%). From 1992 through 2000, Schilling ranked second only to Greg Maddux in FanGraphs’ version of WAR among NL pitchers, ranking sixth in starts, third in IP, 22 in K/9 IP, first in total strikeouts, and second in complete games and shutouts.
By 2000, Schilling was frustrated with the Phillies lack of success and gave then-General Manager Ed Wade a list of six teams he would accept a trade to. The teams included St. Louis, who offered Matt Morris and J.D. Drew (!), Seattle, and Schilling’s eventual destination Arizona. Schilling was traded on July 26, 2000 for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee, and Vicente Padilla and would win a share of the 2001 World Series MVP with Randy Johnson. Schilling’s career would conclude following the 2007 season, ending his career with 3116 strikeouts (15th all-time) and 216 wins (82nd all-time).
Schilling missed induction into the Hall of Fame in 2012 and 2013, getting 38.8% and 29.2% in each respective year but is undoubtedly a Hall of Fame pitcher. Schilling recently revealed his cancer diagnosis - everyone at Phillies Nation wishes Schill a speedy recovery.