Baseball lost one if it’s All-Time greats when Harry Leroy “Doc” Halladay III crashed the plane he was piloting into the Gulf of Mexico. The litany of accomplishments that Halladay notched during his 16-year career is quite long, yet, he will very likely be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers to never pitch in a World Series game. What’s even worse is that Halladay may not have the statistical credentials to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the Fantasy Baseball community has nothing but exciting memories of Roy Halladay. In fact, longtime Fantasy Baseball analyst Ron Shandler inducted him into his Rotisserie Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
The beauty of Fantasy Sports is that it gives us a true connection with outstanding players as individual performers. We’d like to thank Roy Halladay for being part of our Fantasy game and through it, we created everlasting memories of his performances. We did not know Roy as a person, but through former Phillies teammate Nelson Figueroa Jr., we did get a look into who he was as a teammate and person.
“I played with Roy in 2010 with the Phillies and there not a more complete pitcher I ever came across. He was intense as they came, and his intangibles matched his ability. He prepared for every start like it was a heavyweight battle, and he was a machine at work. He was an old school pitcher who was always going for the complete game, and if he did not get there, you would only need the closer. As a person he would want all of his teammates to be up to his level. I would sit with him, and he had notes on every hitter, He was so meticulous, I would watch his bullpens to try and see what he did. He was so focused, yet he was a very genuine person if you asked him for help. He was a good father, a good husband and one of the best people I’ve ever been around.”
Skimming over his statistical record and tally of accolades reveals that he was an 8-time All Star, a winner of two Cy Young Awards (’03, ’10) and he led the league in the following categories during his tenure: wins twice (’03 AL, ’10 NL), innings pitched four times (’02, ’03, ’08, ’10), shutouts four times (’03, ’08, ’09, ’10) and strikeouts five times (’03, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11) – and that’s just a smattering of his many remarkable accomplishments, although it’s worth noting that he is just one of six pitchers in MLB history to win the Cy Young Award in both the AL and the NL. Unfortunately, most of Halladay’s accomplishments were earned while pitching for some less than stellar MLB teams.
Halladay spent the first 12 years of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays. As a member of the Blue Jays, Halladay won 148 games and lost just 76 for a .661 winning percentage. He won 16 or more games in a season seven times for Toronto, 20 games in 2008, and enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2003 when he won 22 games. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays finished no better than second in the AL East during those years and were just 11 games over .500 during the 12-year span.
His first two seasons with the Phillies were two of the most dominating years compiled by any pitcher. He won 21 games with a 2.44 ERA in 2010, helping the Phillies take first place in the NL East. In the first post-season start of his career, he nearly threw a perfect game, shutting down the Cincinnati Reds with eight strikeouts and one walk. He faced 28 batters in that game, one over the minimum. Had he pitched a perfect game then, it would have been his second that season, as he pitched a perfect game against the Marlins on May 29, 2010. In 2011, he won 19 games with 2.35 ERA and the Phillies made the post-season again. Halladay won his only start in the NL Division series, but the Phillies didn’t advance beyond that point for the second straight season.
Despite all those accomplishments and many more that aren’t mentioned, Halladay will unfortunately have a difficult time making the Hall of Fame. There is no doubt that for a 10-year stretch from 2001 to 2011, he was as dominant on the mound as Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez. However, that decade of dominance is sandwiched between two periods during which Halladay was a more hittable pitcher.
During his first four seasons with the Jays, Halladay struggled to compile a record of 18-17 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. In fact, he was shipped to the minors in 2001 after it was revealed that he was relying almost solely on his fastball. He could throw hard, but his pitches had little or no movement and hitters were just teeing off on his fastball. Halladay struggled with injuries in those first few years as well.
The final two years of Halladay’s career were also marred by injury. Indeed, he struggled to make 38 starts over those last two seasons, and while he still managed to win 15 of his last 28 decisions, his ERA ballooned to 4.49 in 2012 and 6.82 in 2013. After just 62 innings in 2013, Halladay announced his retirement. So, despite a relatively long 16-year career in MLB, the Hall of Fame won’t necessarily view his accomplishments in the same light as the Fantasy Baseball and sabermetrics crowd.
When it comes to Fantasy pitching, though. Halladay was as good as anyone else during the timeframe in which he pitched. He was a workhorse like few other pitchers in the game. He was incredibly durable and took the mound every five days like clockwork. That kind of reliability along with excellent stat production is what made Halladay such a beloved Fantasy pitcher.
Looking solely at the 10 seasons from 2002 to 2011, Halladay pitched to a 2.97 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP. Keep in mind that we’re still talking about baseball’s “steroid era” here, and that anything that happened during the time period in question has to be viewed in that light. That makes Halladay’s accomplishments all the more remarkable.
As good as Halladay’s ratio stats were during his 10-year dominant stretch, Fantasy owners who were smart enough to draft him were also rewarded with some generous counting stats. During his decade-long run, Halladay averaged 169 strikeouts per season. Before you dismiss that as a low figure, keep in mind that he did have two injury-shortened seasons (’04, ’05) during which he struck out 203 batters over his 40 total starts. Take those two seasons out of the averages and he gets a bump up to 187 strikeouts per season. It’s also worth noting that he struck out more than 200 batters in five of the 10 seasons in question.
Halladay compiled a record of 170-75 during this span as well. So, he averaged 17 wins and just eight losses per season from 2002-2011. In and of itself, that is a remarkable accomplishment – one that is very rarely seen. However, when you consider that he led the league in innings pitched during four of the 10 years and averaged 219 innings per season, it’s easy to see how he put up the wins and strikeouts in such a prolific fashion.
If there is any justice, attitudes about who gets into the Hall of Fame will change. One thing the Baseball Writers Association of America needs to do is consider the contextual factors that either contributed to or took away from the production of players. When looking at Roy Halladay, one needs to look at just how dominant he was during his most productive years, and he shouldn’t be penalized because of the injuries that he endured in his early seasons or the final two years he spent in baseball. In the case of Roy Halladay, his Fantasy Baseball numbers represent reality just as well as, if not better than his actual statistics. As a Fantasy community, we will always remember Roy Halladay fondly.
Scott Engel contributed to this story