Home > Around the League > A few (hundred) words on Halladay

A few (hundred) words on Halladay

About a month ago, I started looking at the leaderboards in the National League at the pitching side to sort of personally handicap the Cy Young race over there. Clearly I don’t have a vote, but I’m weird like that and thought it would be interesting to take a gander at it. I saw the names you’re all familiar with and then I clicked on Roy Halladay’s name and went to his Baseball Reference page. At that moment, I started thinking about Halladay’s Hall of Fame chances.

He was over 160 wins for his career and is 33 years old. To his advantage were his first four seasons where he never topped 150 innings and then a couple of sabbatical-esque years in the middle where he three 133 and 141.2 innings in 2004 and 2005 respectively. So maybe in terms of pitching he’s a young 33. As a great pitcher, his timeline is different than average, but let’s say he has four more years of great pitching followed by a slow decline. Maybe he’s got seven total years left.

Halladay, of course, got traded from the Blue Jays to the Phillies in the offseason where he no longer had to pitch against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays (at least the last couple of years) and got to face the pitcher rather than a DH. Many believed that he would turn in his best season ever. He arguably did, though I’m partial to his 2008 due to it coming in the American League East when all three of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays could really, really, really hit. Regardless, the move to the National League was going to be beneficial to him.

I had thought about the Halladay for Hall campaign prior to the season when stories were rolling in about how impressed his new teammates were at his diligence and work ethic. The problem was that he hadn’t a signature moment yet. I figured he’d finally get his chance to pitch in the playoffs, but who knows how that’ll turn out? At that point in his career, he was a truly fantastic pitcher who had never really tasted much team success. Yes, he had won a Cy Young and had a few other top five finishes, but aside from the trade deadline drama that surrounded him, he’d never had a ton of attention on him.

This season was shaping up as a similar one for Halladay early on. He was pitching fantastically (or is it phantastically as a Phillie?), but was being overshadowed yet again by Ubaldo Jimenez’s ridiculous start and no-hitter. Then Dallas Braden threw a perfect game and Halladay’s great season was sort of an afterthought. I don’t mean that in the way that people didn’t care what he was doing, but it was just Roy doing his work that he’s always done. For him, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

Halladay took the mound on May 29 after one of his worst starts, a loss to Boston in which he allowed seven runs (six earned) in under six innings.* The Phillies were in Florida, a very good offensive team. Early on, Halladay was in command and he kept that command the entire game. When the final out was recorded, Roy Halladay finally had his signature moment. The baseball world was watching him. He had thrown a perfect game and the Halladay for Hall campaign was now going full blast in my mind. 

*As a point of reference, that was his only start in 2010 that lasted less than six innings. Since the beginning of 2008, he’s only not pitched through the sixth in four starts, one of which he left with an injury. The man is an absolute horse.The rest of the season was simply Halladay-esque. I guess that’s an example of just how good he is. He finished the season at 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA in an obscene (by today’s standards) 250.2 innings pitched. He struck out over 200 for the fourth time and walked just 30. It’s no Cliff Lee total of 18, but it’s still an incredible number. In the bandbox of a stadium he now calls home, he allowed less than a homer per nine innings. The man is truly amazing. He should be recognized with the Cy Young Award.

A bit of an aside here, leading to my next point, but I was reading a live blog chat on ESPN.com yesterday prior to the games starting and somebody asked a question that was something like who would be wanted to start Game 7 of the World Series of the remaining pitchers in the playoffs. To further invalidate my story, I don’t remember who the chatting “experts” were at the time, but I believe the unanimous choice was Cliff Lee. They went on to elaborate with a point that sort of made sense that they wanted to go with the playoff experience. Some other chatter commented that Cliff Lee had the same amount of post season experience as Halladay had going into last season. The point was sort of shrugged off.

All this leads me to yesterday when Roy Halladay made his post season debut. If you’re reading this blog, you know what happened. If you don’t, I’ll give you a second to check out yesterday’s scoreboard. Back? Anyway, I was in my office and following the game on Gamecast. I checked in and saw after one inning that the Phillies led 1-0 and then in the second, Halladay hit an RBI single. At that moment, I turned to a co-worker and said that he was going to pitch another perfect game. Well, I wasn’t exactly right, but I was pretty close. It just feels like Roy Halladay can do whatever he wants on the baseball field. That feeling transcends being at the ballpark or even watching on television or listening on the radio. I could feel it through my computer screen watching the score update ever so slowly, just knowing that I was about two pitches behind at all times.

It seems funny to say this about a man who has won a Cy Young Award, will win another this year, been selected to seven All-Star teams and pitched a perfect game, but Roy Halladay arrived yesterday big time. So now the Halladay for Hall campaign has a very new wrinkle to it. Is he judged differently because of this phenomenal appearance? What if the Phillies win the World Series? If that happens, some might argue that he’s a HOFer right now even if his career did not progress beyond this postseason. His 169 wins are a low total for HOF standards, but he does have the two no-hitters (one perfecto), the WS win, all the All-Star games, multiple Cy Youngs. Is he already there?

My answer is no. I don’t think he’s sustained greatness long enough to make it…yet. He’s thrown seven seasons of over 200 innings, two of which were over 250. Every statistical measure shows him as one of the two or three best pitchers in baseball since he returned from his minor league vacation in 2001. Really, I think he needs two more Halladay years to be assured entrance into the Hall.

Pitching for the Phillies will help Halladay’s win totals even as he begins to decline, whenever that happens. My guess is that based on his work ethic, his relatively low innings total and the type of pitcher he is, that he has four more great seasons left. A complete guess here (obviously) leads me to believe that Halladay is probably good for 85 more wins over seven seasons, which allows him to retire at 40 with 254 victories. Even if he doesn’t win the World Series this year (which don’t forget, I’m predicting he does), he’s a shoo-in for the HOF with those numbers. And let’s not forget one huge factor in this whole thing. More and more, people in the know are beginning to understand the fallacy of using wins as a be all, end all barometer. If Halladay retires following the 2017 season, he won’t be eligible for induction until 2022. How many voters will remain who pray to the god of wins? Not many I’d assume.

So my advice to my readers, enjoy Roy Halladay. Don’t overlook him. And revel in the fact that you can say that you remember watching a Hall of Famer.

  1. Patrick
    October 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    It really is amazing when you realize that you are watching a future Hall of Famer do something remarkable like throw a no hitter in the playoffs.

    It’s going to be amazing to watch what he can do during his career with the Phillies, and it makes you wonder, since they will be back, when all is said and done, what will his post season resume look like? If yesterday is any indication, I can see him being spoken of with the same reverence as John Smoltz.

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