Last week we examined Dustin Pedroia’s career and our thoughts on if he’s a Hall of Famer. This week we switch gears and examine a pitcher. It’s time to make a decision on Roy Halladay.
Halladay’s professional career started in 1995 when he was drafted seventeenth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays. In September 1998, he made his Major League debut against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But in his second start, he carried a no-hitter into the ninth only for it to be broken up with 2 outs.
2000 turned out to be a tough year for Halladay. He posted a 10.64 ERA and a 6.47 FIP. This forced him to make some tweaks which would ultimately make him one of the best pitchers in baseball. He dropped his arm angle to three-quarters, and began to utilize movement and deception as opposed to velocity.
In the end, Halladay finished his career with an fWAR of 65.2. He won 203 games, for the Blue Jays and Phillies. There were two Cy Young Awards, a perfect game, and a postseason no-hitter. He also struck out 2,117 batters, which isn’t bad for a ground ball pitcher not known for striking out a lot of players. So the question becomes, should Roy Halladay end up in Cooperstown?
First, let’s look at some other pitchers already enshrined. Don Drysdale was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. He posted a record of 209-166 with a 2.95 ERA. He struck out 2,486 batters in 3,432 innings. He retired with a career fWAR of 59.3.
In 2007, Tom Glavine won his 300th game, all but cementing his place in Cooperstown. He retired with 305 wins and 203 losses. He was inducted in 2014 with 91.9% of the vote. His career ERA was 3.54, with an FIP of 3.95. Glavine retired with 66.9 wins-above-replacement.
So it’s clear that Roy Halladay’s numbers put him in Hall of Fame company. His numbers line up with both Drysdale’s and Glavine’s. Halladay’s career ERA is 3.38 and his FIP is 3.39. Both of which, are better than Glavine’s. He also has a greater fWAR than Drysdale and trails Glavine by less than 2. And it should be noted that Glavine only had two seasons with an fWAR greater than 5. Halladay had eight, a testament to just how good he was when he was playing.
Unfortunately for Halladay, I think that his chances are similar to Mike Mussina’s. They both lack the milestones that voters look for. They don’t have the 300 wins. They don’t have the 3,000 strike outs. Mussina retired with 270 wins, 2,813 strike outs, and was also one of the best fielding pitchers in the game, earning seven Gold Gloves. But after 2016, his third year on the ballot, Mussina still only received 43% of the required 75% on the ballot. If he doesn’t get in, then I don’t think Halladay does, even though Halladay was arguably more dominant in his prime.
In the end, I’d vote yes for Roy Halladay. He was one of baseball’s best pitchers in his career, and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, because voters refuse to look past traditional milestones, I think he’s going to fall short in the end.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.