Roy Halladay, Deserving Hall of Famer, to Retire.

Roy Halladay is calling it a career, having been prematurely pushed out of the game by a shoulder that simply would no longer cooperate. According to Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays will officially sign Halladay to a one day contract and announce his retirement this afternoon, so that he can finish his career with the organization where he made his mark as one of the game’s best pitchers. And make no mistake; Halladay is one of the best hurlers of his generation, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Halladay doesn’t have the legacy numbers that usually go with Hall of Fame induction. He will finish with 203 career wins and just 2,749 innings, putting him at the very low end of acceptable totals for induction among starting pitchers in those two categories. But, thankfully for Halladay, baseball is moving away from evaluating pitchers by career win totals, and his run of dominance makes him deserving of a place in Cooperstown.

For reference, here is Halladay’s 10 year run of dominance (2002-2011) compared to that of Sandy Koufax (1957-1966):

Name IP ERA- FIP- WAR RA9-WAR
Roy Halladay 2,194 67 71 60.9 67.2
Sandy Koufax 2,224 73 74 57.4 60.0

Koufax, at his absolute peak, was definitely better than Halladay at his absolute peak — or anyone else, for that matter — but his peak only lasted four years before injuries cut short his career. Halladay’s run of excellence was a little less excellent, but also a lot longer. For reference, if you stack up Halladay and Koufax’s individual seasons next to each other, the four best belong to Koufax, but then the next eight best seasons belong to Halladay.

Hall of Fame candidacies are all about balancing a player’s peak performance with the value of a long productive career, with ideal candidates possessing both traits. But there is no question that the BBWAA has found room for short career players who simply were too dominant at top form to ignore, with Koufax being the prime example of inducting a guy with a short-but-amazing career. It is certainly possible to argue that Halladay isn’t Koufax, given the difference in value in their three best seasons, as Koufax racked up a ridiculous +34.8 RA9-WAR during his best three years compared to just +24.7 for Halladay in his three best seasons. But even if we accept that Peak Halladay was only 70% of Peak Koufax, Almost Peak Halladay was vastly superior to Almost Peak Koufax, and those years have to count too.

Maybe you put enough weight on the peak years that the +10 WAR gap in the best three seasons is a much bigger deal than the offsetting +10 WAR gap in the next seven years, but you have to vastly overweight those top few seasons to come out with a definitive conclusion that Koufax is a clear yes and Halladay a clear no. With any kind of emphasis being put on the value of sustained dominance beyond their three best years, Halladay closes the gap, and the two should be viewed in a fairly similar light. It is perfectly reasonable to prefer Koufax’s incredible peak and slightly less incredible non-peak over Halladay’s more consistent performance, but we shouldn’t act like the difference in distributions of value make Koufax one of the all-time greats while Halladay isn’t worth considering.

There are 18 pitchers in baseball history that have thrown 2,500 or more innings and posted an ERA- of 76 or better. Roy Halladay is one of those 18. We can knock Halladay for a lack of career value, but there are 69 pitchers in the Hall of Fame, and I don’t see a credible argument that the difference between 2,700 innings and 3,400 innings should be enough to knock Halladay down from top-20 pitcher to not-top-70 pitcher.

Yes, using rate stats like ERA- will overrate pitchers like Halladay who choose not to stick around for their decline years, which pull down a player’s overall averages as he finishes out his career as something less than he was at a his peak. But just for fun, let’s add in a mediocre decline phase for Halladay, and give him another 750 innings of below average pitching, which would bring him up to 3,500 career innings pitched, squarely in the realm of a normal length of career for a Hall of Fame pitcher. If we assign him a 110 ERA- — the equivalent of something like Jason Vargas‘ career, in other words — over those 750 innings, his new career ERA- would be 83.

There are 22 pitchers in baseball history who have managed to throw 3,500 innings and post a career ERA- of 83 or better. Juan Marichal, a deserving Hall of Famer, threw almost exactly 3,500 innings and had an ERA- of 81. Basically, we’re saying the difference between Roy Halladay and Juan Marichal was hanging around for another four years as a below average pitcher.

Is that really what we want the Hall of Fame to be? Hey, you were one of the best pitchers of your generation, but your shoulder gave out and cost you four years where you weren’t going to produce much value anyway, and we really needed to see you hang around for four years as a #5 starter in order to recognize your prior greatness. Sorry, bad luck about that shoulder costing you those non-valuable years that don’t really matter much, but without those, we just can’t let you in.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think it should be necessary for a great player to be a bad player for a few years at the end of his career for us to recognize his greatness. Halladay’s peak was both great enough and long enough for him to be Hall of Fame worthy in my eyes. Congratulations on a great career, Mr. Halladay, and I hope baseball chooses to remember you with its highest honor.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

111 Responses to “Roy Halladay, Deserving Hall of Famer, to Retire.”

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  1. Monkeyepoxy says:

    I’ll take Pedro’s peak over Koufax’s

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    • Dwight Gooden says:

      Bitch Please!

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      • NS says:

        2-year Peak ERA- FIP-

        Koufax 58 65
        Gooden 57 54
        Pedro 39 38

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        • Actual Value says:

          IP matters.

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        • Owen says:

          I knew Pedro had an insane peak, but holy crap.

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        • NS says:

          They are really a matter of opportunity, not efficiency. Koufax started 24 more games during that time, but only got ~2 more outs per start.

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        • Jon L. says:

          Koufax led the league in innings pitched his two best seasons, beating the runners-up by 27 innings and then 9 innings. In comparison, Pedro finished just 8th and 7th in the league in IP his two best years, neither time pitching quite as many innings as Doc Gooden did in his 19-year-old rookie season. Gooden pitched an additional 58 innings his sophomore year (218 to 276), leading the league in what was obviously his best season.

          Which is to say, it’s definitely not *all* opportunity. The best pitcher in the league usually throws the most innings, but Pedro didn’t have that level of health and stamina. Then again, considering overuse diminished Gooden’s effectiveness following his best season and elbow pain forced Koufax to retire at his peak, maybe Pedro’s slight frame and accompanying perception of fragility were the only things that enabled him to last as long as he did.

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        • Noah says:

          If you look at 3 year peak it’s even better for Pedro, because his best seasons were in 1999 and 2001.

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      • Monkeyepoxy says:

        What, lol

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    • NRJyzr says:

      That’s not really saying a lot. Even Walter Johnson’s peak isn’t up to Pedro’s peak, even if you go 1997-2005 and include Pedro’s merely good season in 2004…

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    • SDiaz says:

      Yeah, Pedro’s peak was actually better than Koufax’s on a per inning basis. Sandy’s best seven years according to FIP- were 1962-1966 were he posted marks 92, 73,62,62,69,63, &67. Pedro’s seven best seasons were 56, 73, 30, 46, 36, 51 & 49. Remember that disappointing final season for Pedro in a Sox uni in 2004, well posted a 78. And hell he then posted a 71 with the Mets in 05. So yeah the difference between Pedro and Koufax is actually (on a rate basis) is actually larger than the difference between Koufax and Halladay (who is a shoe in HOFer in my opinion).

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    • JJ says:

      Between 2004 and 2010, I don’t believe there was a better pitcher in the game than Roy Halladay. Although he never was quite able to lead the Jays into the postseason, he finally got his opportunity in 2010 and showed everyone what he could do on a national stage. Great career buddy; you will be missed

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  2. Los says:

    I lived in Miami from 200-2007. Every year I would look at the [Devil] Rays schedule and find out when the Blue Jays were in town so that I could go see the games Doc pitched. I would make the 4 hour trip up to the Trop and come back that night (often having to work the next morning). Pedro and Doc were the only two pitchers I would consider doing this for. Doc will be missed and is an easy choice for the HOF. Hopefully he isn’t going to be a casualty of crowded ballots a few years from now.

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  3. Marsupial Jones says:

    Certainly worthy of consideration. I’m not sure I totally buy the case for including him though.

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  4. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Instead of grumbling about the Hall of Fame voters, I’ll ask: are there special rules governing these one-day retirement contracts? If the Blue Jays have 40 guys on their roster and want to help Halladay retire, do they need to take somebody off the roster for 24 hours to sign Halladay for his retirement?

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    • Vlad the Impaler says:

      It’s considered a ceremonial honor and has no impact on “real” MLB business.

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      • dl80 says:

        That makes sense. Does the player actually get paid anything? $1? I don’t see how it could even be called a contract if the player didn’t get paid something.

        If yes, does the player get a check for a dollar (minus taxes) in the mail? Does the agent get a cut?

        Or is it just basically a handshake agreement where no one gets anything and they just agree to call it a contract?

        I had never really thought about this before.

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        • Los says:

          The tree elements of a contract are an offer, acceptance, and consideration. Consideration does not need to be monetary and can be anything of value. If Doc values retiring a Blue Jay, then there doesn’t need to be any type of money changing hands.

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        • Oh, Beepy says:

          You should have kept on not thinking this.

          A Major League team’s expenditure of what you’ve determined to likely be a dollar should not even register on your radar of things to think about.

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        • pinch says:

          yeah, screw curiosity! i’m back to thinking about real things, like grown men playing with sticks and balls and gloves.

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    • Marsupial Jones says:

      They could sign him and dl him which means he wouldn’t count against the 40 man iirc. I’m sure there is an easier solution though.

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    • Jaack says:

      I think there is a grace period of a few days after a player is signed to make necessary roster moves. In this case, Halladay’s contract would be up before that grace period was over.

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    • Gabes says:

      According to MLBDepthCharts, they do have a full 40-man, but who says the 1 day contract has to be an MLB contract, or even a player contract. He could retire as the Blue Jays “Special Assistant to the Traveling Secretary” or Team “Doc” or some funnier title made up by someone funnier than I.

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      • Peter says:

        Well actually, when you sign a MLB player, they are immediately designated for assignment for 10 days, which means they are not on any roster for 10 days, just pointing it out.

        On a more important note. A lifelong Jays fan, am Halladay is will be deeply missed. Greatest player I’ve ever seen play at the skydome.

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      • Carlisle says:

        Team Doc is briliant, someone needs to give the Jays a call.

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  5. Vlad the Impaler says:

    I think he comes up short, but just by a small margin, for the HOF.

    No two players are exactly alike, but there are enough parallels between Halladay and Kevin Brown, who was unceremoniously dumped off the ballot.

    And of course the crowded ballot, which will still be in play as a result of overcrowding starting this year, will be an issue.

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    • nada says:

      I think K. Brown’s peak was much lower, which was the major knock against him (if I recall correctly). For instance, Brown had one season above 7WAR–it was a very good 9WAR season, but still.

      Doc had 5, 4 of which were in a row–which is a hell of a peak. So there’s an argument based on peak greatness to be made against Brown which doesn’t really apply to Doc.

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      • nada says:

        whoops, those 4 7+WAR seasons were definitely not in a row, my bad. But the larger point about how their WAR was distributed remains–Doc’s was in fewer, more impressive seasons, Brown’s was in more, less impressive seasons.

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    • Ian R. says:

      Kevin Brown also had steroid questions about his career, something that I don’t think Halladay has to worry about.

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    • Chris Johnson says:

      Kevin Brown getting dumped first-ballot was an epic BBWAA tard-job, up there with doing the same thing to Lou Whitaker a few years earlier.

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    • Jon L. says:

      The numbers suggest that Brown racked up more career value than Halladay, albeit less value per inning. Brown also had a terrific five-year peak from 1996-2000. I think what hurts his candidacy the most are that no more than two of those five seasons came with the same team, so no city felt connected to Brown’s greatness the way Toronto and even Philly (with the World Series win) did with Halladay, and also that Halladay was universally respected, while Brown’s reputation was as someone not very likeable.

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  6. Caffeine says:

    Cameron, are you a voter for the hall of fame?

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    • Bill says:

      If not, I believe Deadspin recently purchased one. Fangraphs fund raiser to get Cameron a vote!

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      • Canard says:

        If Cameron is not a voter, I believe he’d be in line to get a vote in the near future.

        As such, relying on a Deadspin fundraiser to get a vote earlier than that would be a foolish idea.

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        • rogue_actuary says:

          I believe that voting for the HoF requires 10 years of BBWAA. I think Dave’s membership with them is only ~4 years.

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    • Ian R. says:

      I believe Fangraphs authors became eligible for BBWAA membership in the last few years. Dave hasn’t been a member for long enough to have a vote yet, but he’ll have one down the road.

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  7. crapshoot says:

    This is going to be a problem with the hopelessly crowded ballots we’re facing for the foreseeable future. Halladay is going to have a hard time getting inducted when there are 20 other guys who have just as strong of a case to be made and yet only half of them can be listed on the ballot. Obviously I think he’s a slam dunk candidate but so is Jeff Bagwell and look how well that’s going.

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  8. Big Jgke says:

    This is heartbreaking, not the kind of contract I was hoping the Jays would sign Doc to this offseason. Still, no surprise that Halladay would leave the game with class if he didn’t think he could still pitch to his usual standards.

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    • Jason B says:

      Yeah, sadly broken-down Halladay soft-tossing his way to a 5.50 ERA would probably be their second best starter or some such. =/

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  9. chuckb says:

    In my mind he’s pretty clearly a Hall of Famer. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of faith in Hall voters now so they’ll probably find some ridiculous reason to keep him out. I really don’t put a lot of faith in their ability to add anyone except Greg Maddux.

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  10. Canard says:

    I think of Roy Halladay as a Hall of Famer. He was the best pitcher in baseball for a number of years.

    Still, given who the writers have kept out of the hall in recent years, I can’t say I have a lot of faith in the system.

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  11. Devon says:

    That little table comparing Koufax & Halladay, makes me realize Roy was even better than I realized.

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  12. DNA+ says:

    Sad to see Doc go. He spent a pretty good portion of his career absolutely unhittable. Isn’t he still under contract with the Phillies? If so, how much money is he leaving on the table?

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    • Ian R. says:

      According to Cot’s, 2013 was the last year of Halladay’s contract, so he’s technically a free agent. I suppose that’s why he’s able to sign that one-day contract with Toronto.

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  13. jonnybardo says:

    Sandy Koufax, while a great player, might be one of the most over-rated pitchers in baseball history. I think it has something to do with the mystique of his early retirement from baseball coupled, of course, with the fact that he was so damn good for his last four years. But I don’t think Koufax was a better pitcher at his peak than, say, Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens or Greg Maddux, but those three had much longer careers.

    Pedro Martinez seems to be a decent comp for Koufax, but as noted his peak was even higher. IP counts, but we have to look at the context of the game.

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    • DNA+ says:

      I dont think its really fair to compare Koufax to RJ, Clemens and Maddux and say, see he wasnt that good. Those three guys are certainly top ten all time in terms of peak and longevity. Koufax doesn’t have to be those guys to be among the all time greats. That said, at Koufax’ peak he was throwing more than 300 innings a year at rates comparable to anyone. Koufax’ peak is better than RJ, Clemens, or Maddux simply because of the extra value he created just by pitching more at such a high level.

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      • Ian R. says:

        The thing is, Koufax IS often compared to the likes of RJ, Clemens and Maddux. As far as whether his four-year peak was better, well, that’s debatable…

        Koufax, 1962-66: 1192.2 IP, 1228 K, 1.86 ERA, 172 ERA+
        Clemens, 1989-92: 999.2 IP, 888 K, 2.54 ERA, 165 ERA+
        Johnson, 1999-2002: 1030 IP, 1417 K, 2.48 ERA, 187 ERA+
        Maddux, 1992-95: 946.2 IP, 733 K, 1.98 ERA, 202 ERA+

        Johnson beats Koufax in terms of rate stats in a comparable number of innings, and he racked up by far the most strikeouts. Maddux pitched almost 250 innings fewer than Koufax, but on a per-inning basis he blows him out of the water. Clemens lags a bit behind, but that’s because his career wasn’t shaped the right way for this exercise – he had a number of great two- and three-year runs rather than one dominant four-year run.

        By bWAR (which I prefer for historical comparisons), Johnson’s run comes out ahead at 38.3, Koufax places second at 36.5, and Maddux and Clemens are virtually tied at 33.2 and 33.0 respectively. Obviously that’s all within the error bars, but I think it’s fair to say those other guys were good enough on a rate basis to match Koufax’s advantage in innings pitched.

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        • DNA+ says:

          Two things:

          1) Randy Johnson really didn’t throw a comparable number of innings. He threw 160 less. That’s what you might expect out of your #5 starter in a season. Koufax basically provided an extra season of pitching on all of those guys, even if it was a short season in the case of RJ. What would happen to the rates of the other guys if you tacked a league average pitcher onto their peak to make up the innings deficit?

          2) I’m not convinced the run environment adjustment is fair to Koufax here. Koufax pitched in a much reduced run environment. It is very difficult to measure how much better he was than his competitors since Koufax was always pitching around where the scale gets truncated. In Koufax’s day, it wasn’t so uncommon for pitchers to throw shutouts. This does mean that it was easier to pitch in those days, but it also means it is more difficult to distinguish between the best pitching performances when you use runs against as your measure. It is very likely the case that Koufax’ shutouts were often better than other pitcher’s shutouts of the time (as evidenced by all of his no hitters), however, you can’t give him a negative number even if he very well deserves it. As much as I hate FIP, I think it might be more useful than RA9 here.

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        • Ian R. says:

          True, if you tacked 160 innings of league-average pitching onto Johnson’s run, his rate stats would go down… but on the other hand, his WAR would go up to 40 or so. I’m not sure how that supports your argument.

          Using fWAR does close the gap between Koufax and Johnson, as they’re at 37.3 and 37.1 respectively. If anything, though, I’d take Johnson’s run precisely BECAUSE he produced the same amount of value in fewer innings. As long as I can fill the leftover innings with an above-replacement pitcher, I come away with surplus value.

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        • Noah says:

          You can’t talk about 4-year runs without Pedro.

          Pedro (1999-2002): 44 ERA-, 41 FIP-

          Just plain nasty.

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        • Andy says:

          It’s a bit unfair to maddux to say he threw 250 innings fewer because it’s only due to the strike that this happened. In fact, from 1991 to 1995, he led the league in Innings Pitched. If we up his IP to 250 for each of those years, he would have been over 1000IP for that four year period. It’s hard to fill-in numbers, but a great argument can be made that no player was robbed of more from the strike than Maddux: he was an all-time great at his utmost peak during that time.

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        • DNA+ says:

          Ian R,

          Do you think RJ would have struck out 450+ batters a year if he pitched in the mid 60′s? Likewise do think Koufax pitching in the early 2000 would have been much worse? I think these are very difficult questions, but the adjustments used in the WAR calculations answer both these questions in the affirmative, despite the fact that we really have no idea. The WAR advantage for RJ is all down to the adjustments, and RJ pitched in a time where WAR gives more credit for the best performances, because the run environment was higher. We don’t know if the run environment was higher because the hitters were better, or because the pitchers were worse. If we are talking about pitching ability, using WAR credits all the advantage in run environment to the hitters when comparing pitchers between eras. This might speak to relative worth of the players, but it says nothing about their abilities. I don’t know what the right tool is, but I think WAR, in any of its calculations, is the wrong one if we are talking about actual ability.

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      • jonnybardo says:

        I was basing my comment on Cameron’s assertion that Koufax was “better…[than]…anyone else.” So in a way it was Cameron comparing Koufax’s peak favorably to Maddux, Clemens, Johnson and Pedro, because those four – the greatest pitchers certainly since the Seaver/Carlton/Palmer days, if not before to Gibson/Koufax/Marichal – are part of “anyone else.”

        Note also that I did call Koufax “great.” My point is merely that while he definitely was great, he might not be AS great as he’s often spoken of, which is (quite frequently, and in Dave’s article) as the greatest ever, at least at his peak.

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        • GMH says:

          In the 1965 World Series Koufax threw 24 innings in a week and surrendered one earned run. In game 5, he pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out 10. On two days of rest, he pitched a three-hit shutout in game 7, striking out 10. And this was after a season in which he struck out 382 batters in 336 innings and completed 27 games. In the last week of the regular season, while the Dodgers and Giants were battling for the pennant, Koufax threw three complete victories in the span of a week, including his last one on two days rest. In those 27 innings pitched he gave up one run on 11 hits and struck out 38 batters.

          Nobody was better than Koufax.

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    • Bip says:

      It’s pretty hard to overrate his peak years. I think his legendary status is partly because those years were not just incredible from a personal performance standpoint, but because he did everything we associate with player success, fairly or not.

      Koufax, 1962-1966:
      2 World Series rings rings
      4 no-hitters (1 perfect)
      3 Cy Young awards (3 of the last 4 when it was a single league award)
      1 MVP award
      3 MLB triple crowns

      Much of that should not count towards a player’s hall of fame case as much as it does, but according to the voters, that is basically the most dominant run a pitcher can possibly have.

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      • Ian R. says:

        The other piece is that Koufax retired on top of his game – his best season was probably his last. Someone like Maddux, who had an ultra-dominant run and then a very gentle decline for the next decade, suffers a bit because his true peak was such a long time ago.

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      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        Not to mention that Koufax was playing through arm problems throughout his peak that led to him retiring. And Koufax being able to be compared numbers-wise to Randy Johnson, Maddux and Clemens tells you a ton about how great his peak was. We’re talking about some of the best pitchers in the game not named Pedro Martinez. And, again, done while injured in a way that, even if it didn’t hinder his performance (Which I have to imagine it did), had to be putting him in incredible pain.

        The injury, IMO, is what makes Koufax’s peak unable to be compared to anyone else, because I can’t think of anyone who had that kind of peak while playing half of it injured.

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    • Chris Johnson says:

      Those are also likely the 4 best pitcher-careers of the last 50-60 years, so you can say, correctly, that his career was worse, even quite a bit worse, and still not really be arguing against anything.

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    • Jim Price says:

      OK, context of the game–Koufax was most likely pitching toward the end of his career with tendon damage and took the ball every 4 days knowing he would have to live with constant pain. What could he have done if he could have had TJ surgery in his early 30′s, take a year to rehab and come back? You want to take away credit for his 40 starts a year then you need to allow some credit for what that cost him plus not having modern sports medicine.

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      • steve says:

        That’s something of a copout. What if pitchers can heal shoulders come 2015. Or, looking back in time, dietary and fitness improvements could have made Walter Johnson into RJ.

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  14. Joel says:

    Halladay would get my vote, if it counted.

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  15. BJsworld says:

    It is sad that we even have to go through this exercise. Halladay is a clear cut HOF’er.

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  16. grant says:

    In some ways those rate stats underrate his dominance. He put those numbers up pitching a ton of games against the fiercest lineups and in the toughest parks in baseball. The Jays routinely shuffled the rotation to have him pitch in Fenway or Yankee stadium, and he still dominated. Always classy, too.

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    • nada says:

      yes! Whenever fangraphs or whoever gets around to releasing opponent-adjusted metrics, Doc will be a big beneficiary, and rightly so.

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    • rogue_actuary says:

      I’ve often wondered about this more for relievers within the context of comparing individual reliever seasons.

      When Kimbrel or Chapman put up those ridiculous numbers from year to year, … I mean, they’re always going to be great. But when comparing Kimbrel’s 2012 to Chapman’s 2012, it would be interesting to be able to figure out their relative performance after conditioning for the wOBA-against.

      The trick is timing/measurement, though, right? I mean, how do you account for a hitter coming up for a cup of coffee who never again plays in the majors? And, if you’re using a bigger time frame than what is available YTD, how do you address big drop-offs (like Pujols this year, for example).

      Interesting question.

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    • Ian R. says:

      As a Red Sox fan, I think of Halladay as struggling against Boston more often than not. The numbers seem to bear that out – his career ERA against the Red Sox is 4.39, a full run higher than his overall mark. Some of that is Fenway, granted, but he legitimately got worse against tougher competition – which is exactly what you’d expect.

      On the other hand, he really did pitch well against the Yankees with a 2.98 ERA, almost half a run lower than his career average.

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    • Jon L. says:

      I looked up Halladay’s splits, and sure enough, he started more games against the Red Sox (39) and Yankees (36) than anyone else. That’s 75 of his career 390 starts, or nearly 20%, against two of the most dominant offenses of his time.

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  17. griggs says:

    I concur Dave, he should get in and your write-up echos exactly what I do when considering HOF induction. I look at 10 year peak periods(as well as career totals and sometimes a shorter peak period as well) because 10 years is what the HOF requires. Most players obviously need much more than those 10 years but some are dominate enough that they should get in with just the 10 year peak.

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  18. Radivel says:

    Even if the HOF voters are stupid and he doesn’t get in, he’ll get talked about more for not making it than anyone else. He’ll be in the hearts and minds of his fans for a long time.

    Watching that cutter move down into the corner… almost felt sorry for those chump batters..

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  19. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I think Halladay’s perfect game + postseason no-no helps. Obviously not a lot, but it helps some. It is sad to see Doc go…I didn’t realize he was already 36! As a Blue Jay fan and a baseball fan, I wish the best for him. I’d vote him in!

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  20. Jay Ess says:

    Halladay was great, but no greater than Curt Schilling, who’s having trouble getting in. Schilling had two #2 Cy Young finishes with 8.8 and 8.7 WAR, and only came in second due to amazing seasons by Randy Johnson. Schilling’s career WAR is over 80, while Halladay’s is 65. So let’s get Schilling in before we start worrying about Doc.

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    • Not Sure says:

      Not what the article or the conversation are about

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      • Jay Ess says:

        Thanks for that brilliant insight Not Sure (well chosen name–a synonym for Clueless). Okay to compare him to Pedro, Koufax, Clemens et al, but not Schilling, right? If the argument is that Halladay’s better than a lot of others, why not point out someone he’s not better than who hasn’t gotten in? Oh, wait, you’re “Not Sure.” Or should I say Clueless.

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  21. Darryl says:

    I’d enshrine him and place his plaque in the Jim Rice Wing.

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  22. Eric R says:

    “There are 18 pitchers in baseball history that have thrown 2,500 or more innings and posted an ERA- of 76 or better. Roy Halladay is one of those 18.”

    Kind of a pet peeve, but I really hate those lists where you set minimums on a couple of stats that just barely include a particular player to group him with others.

    yes, just him and 17 others meet that, but he has the worst ERA- in the group *and* the fewest IP. Overall the average pitcher in the group is much better than Halladay, not roughly his equivalents.

    Kind of like the 300HR/300SB club;
    Willie Mays
    Barry Bonds
    A-Rod
    Carlos Beltran
    Andre Dawson
    Bobby Bonds
    Steve Finley
    Reggie Sanders

    Finley and Sanders barely make it in on both counts and get lumped in with HoFers, but it doesn’t make them their equivalents, or ‘better’ power/speed guys than Henderson, Biggio, Abreu, Eric Davis, etc who didn’t meet both of those minimums.

    Instead– if you use +/- 20% on IP and then take the 18 guys around him [sorted by ERA-] so that their collected ERA- matches his 76, I get a list of 17 comps with the following in common with your list:

    Ed Walsh
    Al Spalding
    Mordecai Brown
    Rube Waddell
    Whitey Ford
    Hal Newhouser

    So, the differences are:
    Pedro Martinez
    Walter Johnson
    Lefty Grove
    Roger Clemens
    Pete Alexander
    Kid Nichols
    Cy Young
    Christy Matthewson
    Randy Johnson
    John Clarkson
    Greg Maddux

    versus
    Addie Joss
    Sandy Koufax
    Stan Coveleski
    Kevin Brown
    Lefty Gomez
    Nig Cuppy
    Larry Corcoran
    Bret Saberhagen
    Ed Reulbach
    Tommy Bridges
    Curt Schilling

    Certainly a nice comp list as well, but far from as distinguished.

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    • Bip says:

      Wait until Johnny Damon is up for the Hall of Fame. You’ll be bombarded by these lists, each dumber than the last.

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    • Jason B says:

      That’s a very astute point; we have to be careful how we draw our rings around groups of players to say, “Lookit, so-and-so made it in!” Good point and good examples.

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  23. I think Roy probably gets in on like the 5th ballot. But more to the point of recent retirees, if Jack Morris gets in the Hall I think Johan Santana should go in as a much more deserving candidate; though admittedly a short career for a starting pitcher. I also think Roy Oswalt deserves consideration.

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  24. Never forget says:

    Don’t forget the phenomal season he was having in ’05 before the freak leg break ended his season. He was on pace to have a career year, almost a lock for the CY.

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  25. tcnjsteve says:

    I feel like Halladay stands out even more because he dominated at a time when there were no other comparable pitchers. Pedro and Johnson had had most of their best seasons before Halladay broke in in 2002. Of the current crop of great pitchers Kershaw didn’t hit his stride until the 2010′s, Verlander a little before that. Halladay was the guy for most of the 2000′s.

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  26. Josh says:

    While I also think Halladay is a HOFer, I don’t think the 1-3 WAR seasons at the end of a player’s career should be entirely ignored. The fact that Halladay didn’t produce a few more below-average seasons of marginal value should be accounted for in his candidacy. I think in his case it doesn’t make the difference between in or out of the Hall but those years should still count towards a player’s overall value.

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  27. ALEastbound says:

    Dave,

    This might be the best article you have ever written.

    Signed,

    Blue Jays fans.

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  28. Coopaloop says:

    Was the period at the end of the title was a subtle way to convey a sense of closure? Doesn’t look like any of the other article titles have one. Pretty sneaky.

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  29. triple_r says:

    Hall of Fame candidacies are all about balancing a player’s peak performance with the value of a long productive career, with ideal candidates possessing both traits. But there is no question that the BBWAA has found room for short career players who simply were too dominant at top form to ignore, with Koufax being the prime example of inducting a guy with a short-but-amazing career.

    On a somewhat related note:
    Player A–5.87 career WAR/600
    Player B–5.84 career WAR/600
    A is Hank Aaron. B is Chase Utley.

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  30. Roy Halladay was so damn good. I don’t have anything to add to the comments because his greatness is better explained by them, but man did I love watching him pitch. I didn’t get to watch the No-Hitter in the playoffs live, but I cheered nonetheless when I found it out. He deserves the HoF, and without him elected (when he is eligible) that place will be a joke.

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  31. Brad Johnson says:

    5 years from now, the ballot will still be jammed up by the current overflow of candidates, but I could see Halladay squeak in around year 4 of his eligibility.

    I think it’s worth considering his contemporaries as well. Since 1998, Halladay is the 2nd best pitcher per fWAR (let’s stick with that for simplicity). Randy Johnson gets top billing in 300 fewer innings and Pedro was 3 WAR behind Halladay with 800 fewer innings.

    The next best comparable is CC Sabathia, who’s the only pitcher who I consider a true contemporary of Halladay’s that also looks like a hall of famer. For example, if I kick the start date up to 2001 – Halladay’s first good season – then Johnson and Martinez fall to 10th and 20th respectively with Halladay the top pitcher and CC still a reasonably close 2nd.

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  32. jeff says:

    blah blah blah.

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  33. Canard says:

    One of the sad things about Halladay’s retirement is just how close he was to being even that much better.

    Like the time he went into the All-Star break with a 12-4 record and a 2.41 ERA and pitching about as well as he ever did, only to have a Kevin Mench line drive break his leg and end his season.

    Or all those times in his last years with the Jays when Cito would pull him in the 7th or 8th with a runner on and the lead, only to watch the next reliever blow the game.

    Hopefully the writers aren’t dumb in five years.

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  34. Dave says:

    I made this argument when Ron Guidry came up for HOF eligibility. To me, Guidry is a HOFer – who only comes up short because of career stats.

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  35. Dave says:

    p.s. – don’t get me wrong. Doc was a better pitcher than Guidry. Guidry’s best year was a little better than Halladay’s. But Halladay had 3 seasons with a WAR above 8.0, I believe, Guidry’s best was 9.6, with a big drop to 6.5.

    Yet… they had similar careers – Halladay was a bit better. Clearly a HoFer – but I thought Guidry was too….

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  36. JamesDaBear says:

    I think the “adding mediocre seasons” tactic could be another good benefit to Edgar Martinez’s HOF creditiblity both in the beginning and end of his career. It won’t completely counteract the DH detraction, but it helps a little with the “Mariners were an idiot” factor.

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  37. exxrox says:

    Roy Halladay. The pitcher I grew up watching.

    The first game I really remember tuning into was the very end of the 1998 season, when Bobby Higginson broke up Halladay’s no-hitter with 2 out, 9th inning PH HR (caught by Dave Steib in the bullpen). His 2nd career start flashed what was to come.

    There was the year he got hurt with forearm tightness, and the Kevin Mench linedrive during his tuneup start before the ASG. I was in Winnipeg for that. I have a Roy Halladay Cy Young bobblehead. He battled with Johan Santana seemingly every year, but his greatness extended beyond anyone.

    Without an inning or pitch limit on his starts, he would routinely lead the league in CGs. Some years with 8 or 9 of them, more than other entire pitching staffs. A few shutouts per season. 10-inning shutout victory vs the Tigers. Always, always in the 7th inning, a true ace.

    One game I traveled all the way to Toronto to watch Doc pitch versus the Royals. It was a 2-hour loss, 2-0 shutout. Solo HRs and a kid who, for one night only, was better than Halladay. Best start in the career of, uh…Runelvys Hernandez

    http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/news/print.jsp?ymd=20060826&content_id=1630228&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=tor

    His repertoire seemed to never end. His pitch-mix changed even during his peak, and different injuries influenced him toward different directions. He credits his cutter to Mariano Rivera, taught during an All Star Game. His 2-seamer was an opposite pitch; same speed, different direction to the vicious bite. The curveball was a true spike, a real out pitch for a man who shied away from strike three. The changeup was well-commanded and sprinkled in as needed. His mechanics were flawlessly repeated, and he was athletic and strong enough to hold up to the rigors of his own standard.

    Pitching to contact with nasty stuff for low BABIPs and avoiding walks allowed the workhorse to earn his reputation as the dream ace of any staff. His motivation and mentality added value. His focus was sharp and stoic, and his business was his pride. He truly deserved his success, but deserved a WS ring more.

    I don’t hold it against him to want to leave Toronto, but to win 85+ games the next year really made me wish he had stayed. He could have glued that entire playoff-bound team together, a year too late. His individual success during his first two years in Philly proved to the NL what the AL already knew: he was the best pitcher in baseball.

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  38. ramsey says:

    I suspect he will get in, in part because his career ended a little earlier than expected due to injury. Often HOF voters lower the bar a bit on counting stats when this happens, with Koufax being the most famous example.

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  39. kevin says:

    My favorite player ever. Both consistent and dominant. Always worth the price of admission.

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