As Dave talked about, the Phillies downgraded their farm system to swap out an ace who wanted to test the free-agent waters next year, Cliff Lee, for another who was willing to sign a bargain extension, Roy Halladay. Halladay is also a slight upgrade over Lee.
Over the past three years Halladay has been the second most valuable pitcher in the game and one of only seven twenty-win players. He excels at limiting walks (under two per nine in each of the last five seasons) and getting ground balls (never less than 50% GB per BIP), while striking out an average to above-average (in the past two years) number of batters. That combination is more than enough to make him an elite pitcher.
In the build-up to the last season’s trade deadline, when it looked like he might be dealt, I broke down his stuff. He throws a cutter, two-seam fastball, curveball and the occasional changeup. In that piece I noted that he throws his cutter and two-seam fastball frequently to both RHBs and LHBs, giving him two fastballs against all batters. Here I wanted to look at where, horizontally, these fastballs were thrown compared to the average RHP’s. Here is how it looks to RHBs.
RHPs throw their cutter away to RHBs. Halladay does this even more so: he rarely throws the pitch inside and very often throws it to the outer fourth of the plate. But his two-seam location is different than average. While the average RHP throws his two-seam fastball down the middle of the plate to RHBs, Halladay throws it extremely inside.
Against LHPs we see the mirrored pattern, with the pitches switching roles. Overall this means that Halladay has a fastball he can locate on the inner or outer quarter of the plate against both LHBs and RHBs. This allows him to throw strikes without having to throw over the heart of the plate while mixing up the horizontal location of his pitches. I am sure this is a huge part of his success.