Next stop Cooperstown for Roy Halladay

40 Comments

Roy Halladay’s shoulder let him down in the end, but not until after one of the best 10-year runs in memory.

From 2002-2011, Halladay went 170-75 with a 2.97 ERA and 1,699 strikeouts in 2,194 2/3 innings. He went to eight All-Star Games, won two Cy Young Awards and finished second twice more. During that span, he led his league in wins twice, innings four times and complete games seven times. He never actually did win an ERA crown, but he finished second three times, third twice and fifth twice. rWAR ranked him as his league’s top pitcher in four of those seasons, and he was in the top four eight times.

Halladay’s 62.4 rWAR during from ages 25-34 ranks as the 10th best ever among pitchers. Everyone else in the top 16 on the list is a Hall of Famer or will be.

87.7 – Walter Johnson
77.3 – Pete Alexander
70.6 – Pedro Martinez
70.2 – Roger Clemens
68.0 – Greg Maddux
67.2 – Tom Seaver
64.9 – Lefty Grove
63.8 – Bob Gibson
63.0 – Ed Walsh
62.4 – Roy Halladay
58.8 – Christy Mathewson
58.5 – Warren Spahn
58.1 – Fergie Jenkins
58.1 – Eddie Plank
57.0 – Gaylord Perry
55.6 – Carl Hubbard

Unlike most of the rest of those guys, Halladay, unfortunately, offers nothing beyond the 10-year run. He started his career 18-17 with a 4.95 ERA before breaking through in 2002, and he went a combined 15-13 with a 5.15 ERA in his final two seasons while dealing with shoulder problems. Still, the greatness that came in the middle should overcome the short career. Halladay did get to 200 wins anyway, finishing with 203. He didn’t receive much of a chance to make his mark in the postseason, getting there just twice in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, he had the memorable no-hitter against the Reds in the NLDS. However, he wasn’t able to pitch his team to the World Series either year, finishing 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA in five postseason starts.

Halladay’s other highlights include the 20th perfect game in major league history in 2010. In 2003, he threw the first 10-inning shutout since Dave Stewart went 11 innings for one in 1990 (or Jack Morris’s 10-inning one in the 1991 World Series, if you prefer). In fact, since 2000, there have been just five 10-inning starts and Halladay turned in two of them, also notching a 2-1 win in 10 innings in 2007. He retires having thrown 67 compete games, 30 more than anyone else currently active (CC Sabathia has 37). He was also the active leader in shutouts and winning percentage. The only 200-game winners with higher winning percentages than Halladay’s .659 in baseball history are Whitey Ford, Martinez, Grove and Mathewson.

So, yeah, it’d be nice if Halladay could have padded his win and strikeout totals with another five years of solid results. But he certainly offers Hall of Fame quality and just enough in the quantity department. There’s little reason to hold the shortish career against him.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
1 Comment

Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

Getty Images
1 Comment

This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.