Hall for Halladay

The baseball world was shocked this week by the death of Roy Halladay.  The former Blue Jays’ and Phillies’ pitcher, 40, perished in a private plane crash on November 7.

The reports invariably mention the highlights of Halladay’s career: a Cy Young Award in each league, a perfect game on May 29, 2010, and a divisional series no-hitter on October 6 of that same year.  Nice résumé items, people agree, but they are not so unanimous when it comes to the Hall of Fame.  Many seem to think Doc is a borderline candidate at best; after all, he won “just” 203 games with a modest 3.38 career ERA.

Borderline?  With the possible exception of Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay is the most-accomplished pitcher of the 21st century.

In an era where less and less is expected of starting pitchers, Halladay was a horse.  He topped his league in innings pitched four times, and in complete games seven times.  And with the quantity came quality.  According to WAR, for what it’s worth, Halladay was the best pitcher in his league four times.  Besides the two Cy Youngs, he finished second twice, and third and fifth once each.  He amassed 3.50 Cy Young Award shares, ranking him in the top ten all-time:


7.65     Roger Clemens

6.49     Randy Johnson

4.91     Greg Maddux

4.29     Steve Carlton

4.26     Pedro Martinez  

3.96     Clayton Kershaw

3.84     Tom Seaver

3.57     Jim Palmer

3.50     Roy Halladay

3.15     Tom Glavine

            Doc was a surgeon.  He led the NL in fewest walks per nine innings three straight times, and had his league’s best strikeout-to-walk ration five times.  His career mark also ranks in the top ten all-time:


Pitcher                            SO     BB    RATIO

Curt Schilling                3116    711      4.38

Clayton Kershaw          2120    507      4.18

Pedro Martinez             3154    760      4.15

Dan Haren                    2013    500      4.03

Max Scherzer               2149    534      4.02

Zack Greinke               2236    594      3.76

Mike Mussina               2813    785      3.58

Roy Halladay             2117    592      3.58

Cole Hamels                 2227    645      3.45

Greg Maddux               3371    999      3.37

            Most impressive of all was Halladay’s ability to win games.  Over three decades ago I developed a statistic I call Normalized Win Percentage.  It compares pitchers’ win percentages to their teams’ and scales it to .500, putting all pitchers, past and present on an even plane.  Among all 200-game winners since 1900 – including the likes of Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, and Tom Seaver – Roy Halladay ranks second.  You read that right: number two in modern history.  Here are the 14 who managed a .600+ NWP:

HIGHEST CAREER NWP, 1900-2017 (Min. 200 Wins)

Pitcher                           W         L     NWP

Pedro Martinez          219      100      .663

Roy Halladay             203      105      .661

Randy Johnson          303      166      .650

Lefty Grove                  300      141      .643

Roger Clemens           354      184      .642

Grover Alexander         373      208      .640

Whitey Ford                 236      106      .630

Walter Johnson          417      279      .629

Cy Young                     511      316      .621

Christy Mathewson       373      188      .616

Tom Seaver                  311      205      .614

Curt Schilling                216      146      .603

Mike Mussina               270      153      .602

Juan Marichal               243      142      .601

            Rest in peace, Roy Halladay.  You were one of the very best pitchers of your generation.  If that’s not a Hall of Famer, I don’t know what is.


2 thoughts on “Hall for Halladay

  1. FWIW, Chris Sale and Masahiro Tanaka both are tied at a 5.1 K/BB ratio, which ranks them tied for # 1 all-time, and Corey Kluber is at 4.94, which ranks him # 3 all-time. (Tommy Bond is * 2)


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