As they do every off-season, the Baseball Writers' Association of America released their ballot for the Hall of Fame. This winter's ballot is packed full of players who merit inclusion in Cooperstown, but that doesn't mean they will all get in. You can find the full list at the BBWAA website, with the likes of Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, and more making their debut, joining holdovers like Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, and Tim Raines.
There are plenty of Red Sox on the list, first-time candidates and otherwise, but the most fascinating are the newbies. Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, and David Wells are all on the ballot for the first time, representing a wide-range of Red Sox participation. Lee Smith and the aforementioned Bagwell are the former Sox on the ballot once more.
Of course, Sele, Stanton, Walker, and Smith aren't likely to make the Hall, and Bagwell would go in as an Astro -- he never played in the majors with Boston, only on their farm. David Wells isn't going to make it either, though, he's easily the best of this secondary bunch. That leaves Clemens and Schilling, both of whom could very well enter Cooperstown wearing a Red Sox hat.
Clemens is seen as something of a villain for his post-Red Sox career, but there's only one arm that was his equal ever while wearing a Boston uniform. He's one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, and the 13 years he spent in Boston, where he won three of his seven Cy Young awards, took home the 1986 MVP, and threw nearly 2,800 innings with 2,590 strikeouts and a 144 ERA+. From a rate perspective, his time with the Astros and Blue Jays was better, but rate only means so much when he spent more than twice as much time with the Red Sox, amassing enough value in those 13 years that he would have been a viable candidate for the Hall of Fame based entirely on that.
He might not be as popular with Red Sox fans as Pedro Martinez, but Clemens threw twice as many innings in nearly twice as many seasons. The fact that a discussion can be had in the first place is a testament to the excellence of both.
As for Schilling, he's not on par with Clemens, but very few are. He spent 20 years in the majors, throwing over 3,200 innings while posting the greatest strikeout-to-walk ratio in any career spanning at least 1,000 innings. To once again put a fine point on it, the only other starter with a career K/BB over four is Pedro Martinez (4.2), and Schilling's own mark is well above that at 4.4. He spent just four years with the Red Sox, but they were four memorable years, to the point where this just might be the team he's inducted with, should he receive the honor.
Schilling was part of the 2004 and 2007 World Series-winning Red Sox, and there's no arguing 2004 would not have happened without him. In fact, his playoff record is exactly what could push him into Cooperstown into the mind of many voters. (And, for what it's worth, were this author to have a vote, it would be cast for Schilling.)
The most-famous playoff performance of his career was the Bloody Sock contest, Game Six of the 2004 American League Championship Series. An experimental procedure sutured his ankle together in order to allow him to pitch with his proper mechanics, rather than like someone whose ankle was shredded. It worked, Boston became the first team to force a Game Seven after being down 3-0, and the rest is history you might have heard about.
Focusing on just that discredits the rest of his playoff career, though, as Schilling amassed 133 innings over five different postseason trips and 11 series. While his career ERA was 3.46, in the playoffs, Schilling's ERA was more than a run lower at 2.23, and his 4.8 K/BB was even better than his record-setting career rate. If you believe in clutch performances, then Schilling is living evidence of the phenomenon.
Results of the BBWAA voting will be announced on January 9, 2013.