Friday, March 18, 2011

Roy Halladay - Easily the Best There Is

Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies makes pitching look so easy and opposing batters look so feeble against him that it's almost sickening to watch. The batters simply have no chance. They are not going to walk. They are not going to get into hitter's counts. The batter is either going to hit a slow roller someplace, strike out or pop the ball up. Not since Greg Maddux has a pitcher looked so reliably in control. Watch carefully because the kind of pitching Halladay is performing these days only comes around once in a generation.

Just look at his sick strikeout to walk ratios the past three years: 5.28, 5.94 and last year, 7.30. Those are Maddux-like numbers from his early days with the Braves. Some of the numbers are unbelievable. For example, Halladay got to a 3-0 count only 17 times in all of 2010 in 945 opposing plate appearances. That's 1.7 percent folks. Contrast that to another pretty good pitcher in C. C. Sabathia, who got to a 3-0 count 54 times. Also consider that Roy Halladay only needed to intentionally walk one batter in all of 2010. One.

The other thing that strikes this Fan about Halladay is how tenacious he is. In games where the Phillies scored two runs or less in 2010, his ERA was 1.72. In other words, he wasn't going to give up no matter what. That he won four of those ten decisions is remarkable when you consider that almost all pitchers lose pretty much all of those games.

Most pitchers do really well when they get to an 0-2 count. With Halladay, you might as well start walking to the dugout if you're the batter. When the at bat was determined on an 0-2 pitch, the slash line against Halladay was .100/.099/.130. And say the batter somehow managed to continue the at bat after an 0-2 count, then the slash line only improves to: .151/.163/.215.

Now here's the Fan's favorite statistic for Halladay in 2010: In 945 opposing at bats last year, Halladay threw a first pitch strike 532 times or 56.3 percent of the time. Here's the Fan's second favorite statistic for Halladay in 2010: Roy Halladay had an OPS against of .554 against all lead off batters. But there is more. There is so much more.

Halladay's home park is a notoriously good hitting park. And yet, Halladay's OPS against at home of .634 was better than his road OPS against of ..659. And just how good is that OPS against, both home and on the road? There were only six batters in all of the majors leagues last year that had an OPS of .650 or less and qualified for the batting title. So in essence, Halladay was pitching to a lineup full of Erick Aybar every single game. Aybar finished with a .636 OPS in 589 plate appearances for the Angels last year.

And of course, there is no let up in Roy Halladay, known for his legendary work ethic and showing up at the ballpark before six in the morning. In eleven spring training innings so far in 2011, he's yet to give up a run and has only yielded seven hits.

Roy Halladay is special. He's the best pitcher in baseball and whether you root for the Phillies or against, enjoy each and every one of his starts. We won't see anything like him for a long while.

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