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Roy Halladay and Risk

In 2004 and 2005, Roy Halladay missed significant time with first a shoulder injury and then a leg injury. Since then he’s started 31 or more games three consecutive years but some fantasy players still consider him an injury risk. That’s good news as it means that one of the top pitchers in the game doesn’t carry the cost that he could.

In 2008, Halladay led the American League in WHIP (1.053), finished second in Wins (20) and ERA (2.78) and third in strikeouts (206). Yet according to the latest rankings from Mock Draft Central, Halladay is the seventh pitcher off the board, with an ADP of 47 or 30 spots behind Johan Santana.

Last year, Halladay started throwing more cut fastballs. He got more swings outside of the zone and batters made less contact on those swings than they had previously against him. All of that led to a 7.54 K/9, his highest total for any season with more than 17 starts.

There is at least one big concern around Halladay. In 2008, manager John Gibbons let him throw nine complete games, which led to 246 innings, his highest total since 2003. The next year is when Halladay came down with his shoulder injury.

All pitchers carry risk. And perhaps Halladay has slightly more risk than others because of his past injury history. But according to the RotoTimes Player Rater, Halladay was the top pitcher in 2008 with a $34.14 earned dollar value, which was good for eighth overall. It’s up to each fantasy player to weigh the risk and the reward for each player and value them accordingly.

No one can accurately predict the risk of a pitcher coming down with an injury. But most people would say that it is less risky to have a 31-year-old pitcher throw 246 innings than a 26-year-old one throw 266, like Halladay did in 2003.

However, that is not the only risk that owners have to take with Halladay. While he was the top pitcher in 2008, he was outside the top 30 in 2007, when he made 31 starts. Was 2008 simply a career year for Halladay? It was certainly his best to date; but he also has a greater track record than just one season, as he was one of the game’s best in both 2003 and 2006 and was on pace in 2005 before the leg injury.

Fantasy players should look for certainty with their first few picks. But at some point you have to add risk and upside or you are certain to finish out of the money. So far this off-season, owners are saying Halladay’s risk becomes appropriate near the end of the fourth round.