Baseball fans everywhere were stunned and saddened by the tragic passing of Roy Halladay, unquestionably one the greatest pitchers of the recent past. Author of a perfect game and post-season no-hitter, Halladay logged over 2500 IP in a sixteen year career with the Blue Jays and Phillies. Eight times an All-Star and twice a Cy Young Award winner, Halladay recorded a 203-105 career record with a 3.38 ERA, striking out more than 2000 while walking less than two batters per 9 innings.
More after the jump on the career of Roy Halladay.
Halladay was drafted by the Blue Jays as the 17th pick of the first round of the 1995 amateur draft, making his professional debut that same year as an 18 year-old in the Gulf Coast rookie league. Halladay turned in a stellar campaign in A+ ball the next year and worked his way through the AA and AAA ranks in 1997 and 1998, before earning a September call-up in the latter season. Halladay served notice of what lay ahead in his career in collecting his first major league win in his second start, a complete game one-hitter against the Tigers, that one hit coming with two out in the 9th.
Halladay made the Blue Jays out of spring training in the 1999 season and collected the only save of his career in his first appearance of the season. He worked his way into the rotation by the middle of April and collected his first shutout in May. Halladay made three more starts in June but was mainly used in middle and long relief through the summer until rejoining the rotation in mid-August, in time to record 5 quality starts over his last 7 outings. In total, an 8-7 record and a respectable 3.92 ERA in 149.1 IP. Not bad for a 22 year-old rookie.
After that promising rookie season, expectations were high for the 2000 campaign. Halladay started with a W in a strong 7-inning performance, but it was all downhill after that. Getting shelled for six straight starts earned Halladay a tune-up in the minors, but he wasn’t any better when he returned near the end of June and was sent down again a month later. After a September call-up, Halladay was hardly used and got pounded again in his one start that month. For the season, only 67.2 IP and a monstrous 10.64 ERA. His prospects could not have been more different from those of just one season prior.
Halladay started the 2001 campaign in the minors and didn’t make the big club until the beginning of July. The Red Sox pounded him (and the rest of the Toronto staff) in a 16-4 thrashing in Halladay’s first game but, aside from that outing, he posted a 3.57 ERA for the month, and followed that with 3.24 in August and a dominating 1.63 in September that culminated with a two-hit shutout over the Indians. For the year, 105.1 IP and a stellar 3.16 ERA. But, which Halladay would Toronto see next year?
The 2002 season started Halladay on his historic career, posting a 19-7 record with a 2.93 ERA in 239.1 IP that included two runs or less allowed in 21 of 34 starts, with 6+ IP in all but three of his outings. That would be Halladay’s basic season for the next decade. Aside from the 2004 and 2005 seasons in which he lost significant time to injury, Halladay pitched 220+ innings and collected 16 or more wins every year from 2002 to 2011, posting an ERA under 3.50 in all but one of those seasons, including 6 times under 3.00. For that 10 year peak, Halladay was the most dominating pitcher in the game, as shown by his ledger below.
To the above can be added firsts in WAR and WAA (both over 20% higher than Johan Santana in second place), another first in lowest percent of “hard” contact, second in percent of pitches thrown for strikes and highest percent of swings at pitches outside the strike zone, and third in pitches per start and quality starts.
Halladay’s two Cy Young awards were separated by 7 years and featured his top two season marks in IP, Wins, CG, BB/9 and SO/BB ratio. Halladay has the distinction of winning the CYA in both leagues, joining Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Max Scherzer and Roger Clemens.
Toronto was basically a .500 club during Halladay’s tenure, with that result largely due to Doc’s efforts. With Halladay starting, the Blue Jays posted a .662 winning percentage, but only .483 without him. For his peak seasons starting in 2002, that gap widened to a .688 mark with Halladay on the hill and .463 otherwise. With those trends seeming likely to continue as the 32 year-old Halladay finished the 2009 season, Toronto gave Doc the opportunity to finish his career on a winning team with a trade to the defending NL champion Phillies.
Halladay didn’t disappoint his new club, turning in his second CYA season with league-leading totals in IP, Wins, CG, SHO, BB/9 and SO/BB. After his almost no-hitter in his second career game, Halladay had added another one-hitter and four two-hitters, but was still searching for his first no-no. The Doc remedied that omission by recording just the 6th NL perfect game of the live ball era with a 1-0 victory over the Marlins at the end of May. That set the stage for Halladay’s first post-season appearance, an almost perfect performance against the Reds, facing one batter over the minimum for his second no-hit game of 2010, and only the second ever recorded in the post-season.
At age 35 in 2012, Halladay started to experience soreness and pain in his arm that reduced his velocity and hurt his control, resulting in a month and a half on the DL and an inflated 4.49 ERA, It got much worse the next year with velocity on his four-seamer in the low 80s, a BB/9 over 5 and an ERA of almost 7. After becoming a free agent following the 2013 season, Halladay signed a one day contract with Toronto so that he could retire as a Blue Jay.
Despite his dominance over his career peak, Halladay’s black and grey ink are “only” at the level of an average HOFer. Regardless, his black ink is still noteworthy, including:
- 7 times – CG
- 5 times – SO/BB ratio
- 4 times – IP, Shutouts
- 3 times – BF, BB/9
- 2 times – Wins
- 1 time – W-L%, GS, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, HR/9
At the top of the list are his CG totals which none of his contemporaries have come close to matching. Over his 10 year peak, Halladay completed better than 20% of his starts, five times higher than the major league average. The change in complete games over the decades is shown in the chart below.
So how do Halladay’s credentials stand up against other HOF pitchers? Having a career of less than 3000 IP, while not a disqualifier for Hall consideration, certainly limits those chances. Almost 40% of retired pitchers with 3000 IP (52 of 132) are in the HOF compared to just 7% of pitchers (8 of 110) with careers of 2500-3000 IP. That said, Halladay stands second in WAR and WAA in that group, trailing (distantly) only Pedro. In wins (which, for this group, seems to have the strongest correlation to HOF selection), Halladay ranks 5th of those 110 pitchers; the three modern era pitchers ranking slightly ahead of him are all in Cooperstown, as are three of the five following Doc.
Here are Halladay’s ranks among that group of 110.
|METRIC||Overall (since 1876)||MODERN ERA (SINCE 1901)||LIVE BALL ERA (SINCE 1920)|
Halladay’s Wins and W-L% are especially impressive considering he played most of his career on mediocre teams, and in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Intangibles also bode well for Halladay; there seems little doubt that he was both well-liked and well-respected, on and off the field.
To me, everything points to Doc passing muster come Hall voting time. That could be right around the corner, assuming that Halladay’s 5 year waiting requirement is waived as a deceased player (otherwise, he will become eligible in 2019) . Hall of Stats has Halladay comfortably included with a 139 score, the 25th ranked pitcher by its evaluation method.