Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gary Sheffield Hits 500th Homer

Honestly, Sheffield has never been a Fan favorite. He's spent a graceless career flapping his gums and making himself more important than anything else. Well, that's the perception he's always created. Fair or not fair, that is what he appears to be. But all that aside, 500 homers is 500 homers. That's still a pretty big deal in this corner's book.

So despite his apparent personality and hints of chemical assistance, he probably has capped a Hall of Fame career with his 1600+ RBI and career .392 OBP to go along with 251 steals. He hasn't been an angel, but he has the numbers.

So a begrudging congratulations come from the FanDome.

Diamondbacks in Big Trouble

The Arizona Diamondbacks are now 3-7 and seem to be in a heap of trouble. With a couple of exceptions, the team isn't hitting at all and except for Dan Haren, they aren't pitching well either. Baseball Prospectus projected the Diamondbacks to win 88 games. If they are going to do that, they better get straightened out quite quickly.

The Pitching

Dan Haren is pitching his heart out. So far, he's pitched 19 innings in three starts, giving up only twelve hits and three walks while striking out 17. He's given up only four earned runs and has an ERA of 1.89. Yet, he is 0-3. Doug Davis has been decent as well, with an ERA after two starts of 4.15. His walks are a bit high, but he is giving up 7.6 hits per nine innings. He is 0-2. So the pitchers have a combined VORP thus far of 10 and are 0-5.

Elsewhere, the starters have been abysmal. Branden Webb had one terrible start and then went on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis. Jon Garland has an 8.44 ERA and Yusmeiro Petit is sitting at 7.71. Other than Tony Pena and Doug Slaten, the relief pitching has been terrible as well.

Despite Haren's heroics and a few exceptions noted above, the Diamondbacks are currently 24th in the league in pitching VORP. That's not good at all.

The Batting

Felipe Lopez has been around since 2001. He had a career year for the Reds in 2005 when he hit 23 homers and batted .289 with a .352 OBP. Other than that, he's been rather ordinary and has no other year over 10 homers. He had a small contribution with the Cardinals last year but did very well for them, batting .385 in 156 At Bats. He's carried that over into this year and sits at .381 after 42 At Bats in ten games. Chad Tracy has had a good start as well and is batting .321 with only one strikeout in eight games. But he only has one walk and has shown little power.

Other than those two, there isn't a batter above .258 (Mark Reynolds) on the rest of the team. Chris Young is sitting at .237/.293. Stephen Drew is at .222/.293. Connor Jackson so far is .222/.263. Tony Clark is at .200/.200 and it gets really bad from there. Justin Upton, who had an absolutely terrible Spring Training, has carried that over into the new season. After ten games, he is batting .130 with a .231 OBP. Eric Byrnes, who may have crashed into one wall too many is at .125/.241 and the team's regular catcher, Chris Snyder is batting .100, though he does have a .333 OBP.

Add that all up and you have a team batting .227 with a team OBP of .293, which is reminiscent of the 1966 New York Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have won six straight and the distance between the two teams is growing wider apart. The Padres have looked better than the Diamondbacks thus far and we never saw that coming. Fortunately for the Diamondbacks, the season is young. But the trends don't look pretty and unless things start rolling, they could be in for a long, long season.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yankee Stadium Opens - Relievers Give Gifts

Watched the first game at the new Yankee Stadium today. The stadium is a rousing success. Everything about the stadium, from its appearance, to its call to the old traditions, dimensions and facades screams, "New York Yankees." Everyone seemed thrilled and it felt like a Yankee game just like it was supposed to feel...until the seventh inning.

Johnny Damon (Isn't he getting a bit old to still go by "Johnny?") got the first hit in the new stadium and Jorge Posada hit the first homer. All good and the way it was supposed to be. Sabathia pitched 5+ innings of major league Houdini and only allowed one run despite base runners all over the place. And the one run he did give up should have died in the warning track, but Damon pulled up short of the wall on a drive out there with two outs and the ball fell harmlessly on the warning track. Most decent left fielders would have caught that ball.

Sabathia was up to about 458 pitches by the start of the sixth inning and after two outs, gave way to Ramirez, who then gave up a base hit. The inning was bailed out by Phil Coke, who did the LOOGY thing. But it wasn't meant to be as the likes of Veras and Marte imploded and before you could say, "Yogi," it was 10-2 and all the regulars starting becoming spectators.

Both New York teams have now lost their home openers in their new parks, but it's all good as the parks are a big success and now that they are open, we can all try to forget how much they cost and just enjoy them for what they are.

In one last side note, the Yankees can't get A-Rod back fast enough. Though Cody Ransom is trying his hardest, it just isn't working. He made one brilliant play to save a run, but went 0-5 and stranded nine base runners all by himself. Yes. Nine. And he also had a throwing error with a throw in the dirt that Teixeira couldn't pick.

The Nationals Win Their First Game of 2009

Let's give three cheers and a round of huzzahs as the Nationals are "off the schnide" as Chris Berman liked to say. The former Expos won their first game of 2009 in their eighth try. The lineup was shaken up a bit, they got some good pitching and beat the world champion Phillies. Good for them!

The Nationals, who demoted Lastings Milledge on Wednesday, moved little known Anderson Hernandez to the leadoff spot (where Milledge had been flailing) and provided two hits in four at bats and also walked. Nick Johnson, who has looked finished about ten times in his career, but when he plays, he gets on base, was moved to the number two spot and did his best on base thing with three hits and a walk in five plate appearances. Zimmerman remained third and responded with two hits and a walk of his own and Donkey Dunn killed a pitch for a three run homer.

Elijah Dukes, now starting in center instead of Milledge added a homer and Alberto Gonzalez also homered for the Nationals. The team even got a pinch hit homer from Willingham, who has started the season in a terrible slump.

Shairon Martis had a quality start and a trio of relievers, Hinkley, Beimel and Hanrahan threw two and two thirds innings without giving up a base runner.

All in all, it was a fun game for the Nationals who threw a bunch of kids out there and they all did great and at least their winning percentage got off the dreaded .000.

One last note about the game: Why a contender didn't scoop up Adam Dunn is beyond the Fan. The guy is in the best shape of his life and looks fantastic. He sure could have helped somebody.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

42 Tribute Good But Not Enough

Everyone in baseball wore Number 42 as MLB honored Jackie Robinson who broke baseball's color barrier in 1946. And while the tribute was worthwhile and very fitting for a man of brave character, the tribute could have been more inclusive. This takes nothing against Robinson's accomplishment and its historic consequences. But others paved the way as well and they could have and should have been included.

For example, all American League clubs could have worn Larry Doby's Number 14. Doby was just as much a pioneer as the first black man in the American League (1947) and his struggle was little different than Robinson's. All the managers could have worn Frank Robinson's Number 20 as Robinson was the first black manager in 1976. And although umpires did not wear uniform numbers in the American League up until 1980, Emmett Ashford could have been celebrated as the first black umpire in 1966.

All the men listed above had great courage, worked hard to achieve what they accomplished and could tell horror stories on top of horror stories. Look up Emmett Ashford in Wikipedia and read what he had to endure just to umpire his first game in the minor leagues. Ashford, who died in 1980 should be recognized by the umpires union and an honorary uniform number should be retired in his honor.

And how about Buck O'Neal as the first black coach in Major League Baseball when he coached for the Cubs in 1962. All the coaches could have worn his number.

Again, this post takes nothing away from Robinson and his place in history. But he didn't suffer--and overcome--alone. Ashford, Doby and Frank Robinson all overcame great hardships through determination and hard work. They deserve their due too.

Hillman Lets Farnsworth Blow Another Game

A week ago, the Fan stated that Kyle Farnsworth should not pitch in another meaningful situation for the Royals the rest of the season. As usual, the Fan is spitting into the wind because Trey Hillman, no doubt thinking that he has to use the guy since he cost the team so much money, threw him into another meaningful game Wednesday night and before you could scream, "Stupid!" the game was history.

Jiminy Crickets, man! The Fan just spent 2000 words including the Royals as contenders in the American League West and Hillman has thrown away two games already by throwing Farnsworth out there. Doesn't somebody on that team look at numbers? Doesn't anybody learn from mistakes? This is more intolerable than playing twenty games of Spider Solitaire when another post could have been written. Let's look at Wednesday night's debacle.

The game was tied 2-2 going into the top of the seventh. The Royals had just mounted a comeback in the bottom half of the sixth to tie the game. Sidney Ponson has thrown his second decent game in a row for the Royals (who thought that would happen?). But who does Hillman bring in? Mr. Kyle Farnsworth. This was how his night went:

The first batter Farnsworth faces is Asdrubal Cabrera, the Indian's shortstop. Keep in mind that Cabrera has a career Slugging Percentage of .382. Cabrera doubles. Here we go! Grady Sizemore popped out to the infield (and the poor Royals' fans were starting to hope again). Mark DeRosa came up. He's been mired in a 5 for 30 slump. Farnsworth was just what the doctor ordered. Single to center and Cabrera scored.

This was the point where Farnsworth got creative. He balked DeRosa to second. How does a guy who has pitched for eleven years in the big leagues balk? Anyway, Farnsworth then walked Victor Martinez and Farnsworth's night was done. Unfortunately for him, Ron Mahay came in and threw gasoline on Farnsworth's considerable fire and after a double by Hafner and a sacrifice fly by Choo, the Royals were then down by three runs and were unable to recover.

So to recap, Farnsworth faced four batters. He retired only one of them. The other three scored. He has now given up eight base runners in three and a third innings of relief this year. He has now cost the Royals two games out of their first ten. So if the Royals play 162 games and Farnsworth keeps up this pace, he'll cost the Royals 16.2 losses.

You could blame Hillman for using him in tight situations. But it's sort of like blaming a kid when his mom gives him a match and he sets the house on fire. The front office never should have signed the guy in the first place and put Hillman in a position to fail this way. But Hillman knows now and the Fan will say it again, if Hillman uses Farnsworth in another meaningful situation the rest of the year, the onus is on him and nobody else and all bets are off.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This Year's Surprise Teams - Who Will Last?

The standings in Major League Baseball are all upside down so far this year and after the Bay Rays exciting emergence last year, it's hard to discount another team busting out from the projections and the odds. Let's look at this year's surprise starts and see who is going to be a factor in the long run.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are in first place in the American League East after eight games which is really a surprise. They are getting timely hitting and have won six of their first eight games. But it seems unlikely they can continue at this pace. Guthrie has had a good start for the rotation and has thrown two brilliant games. It is very possible that Guthrie continues in this positive direction, but he doesn't have enough help with the rest of the rotation. Hendrickson can be decent, and newcomer, Koji Uehara is 2-0. But Uehara's first start was against a flat Yankee team and his second start was not very good. He has given up 17 base runners in ten innings of work. The rest of the rotation consists of Alfredo Simon, who has looked terrible and Adam Eaton, who has made terrible a career art form. And Sherrill as a closer is not impressive at all and a big weakness for this team. The overall bullpen has a couple of guys doing decent and the rest is real iffy.

Melvin Mora is getting up there in years and cannot be counted on for upscale production. He'll probably miss some time to injuries like he always has. The offense has five or six guys who can rake pretty well, but it might be the Orioles' insistence on using an ancient Gregg Zaun to eat up at bats (while they squander Matt Wieters in the minors until June so they can save money in the future) that might help in the team's undoing. How many rallies can Zaun kill before they get the right guy in there?

Prediction: The Orioles will sink due to lack of starting pitching depth, questionable closing and two clunkers in their batting order.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals currently sit on top of the American League Central and it's not all that surprising. They have three really strong starters in Greinke, Meche and Davies. If they can win consistently when those three pitch and get an occasional win from Ponson and Ramirez, there's no reason they can't win three of every five games they play. If the Royals can keep that kind of pace, they have a legitimate shot at this weak division.

Coco Crisp gives this team a whole new look in the batting order and though he isn't hitting much for average, his patience at the place thus far still gives him an OBP of .358. If he starts hitting--and he's shown some consistency there over the years--and maintains his patience, he is going to keep the bases clogged for some pretty good hitters behind him. Overall, to this point, the Royals haven't hit well and they are still 5-3. They should get more offense in the weeks ahead with Jacobs and Teahen. Gordon's injury is a concern though. It's hard to think that Buck, who has been their offensive hero to this point, will have that great a year with his history.

Prediction: With strong starting pitching, they should contend. If they lose any of their top three starters to injury, they will be in trouble. The hitting is a bit of a concern. But they look and feel legitimate to this point.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners sit on top of the American League West and that also is surprising. When a team does as poorly as the Mariners have done in recent years, it seems inevitable that they will return to form. But a lot of things look positive for the Mariners thus far. They are getting good starting pitching from Hernandez, Washburn and Bedard and Silva had a good outing last night after a poor first one.

This team has more excitement so far in their demeanor than at any time in the last two years. Is that a Griffey affect? It's hard to give the old slugger that much credit. Maybe it's the new manager and some of the younger guys that have added a spark. All the Fan knows is that guys like Chavez and Betancourt have been spark plugs. Griffey isn't hitting all that much, but he does have a .400 OBP and Ichiro Suzuki hasn't even played yet. He's back tonight though.

The two glaring weaknesses for the Mariners are not having a stud closer and horrid catching. Morrow has been the closer thus far and though he has two saves in two opportunities, he's walked six batters in 3+ innings. If he keeps that up, blown saves will come in bunches. Johjima and Johnson have been terrible at the plate thus far and both are far below the Mendoza Line. Neither of them walk much and they are rally killers to say the least.

Prediction: This is a weak division and if their starting pitching holds up (Bedard is always in injury waiting to happen), they have a chance to contend. Who would have thought it?

Florida Marlins

There is no team the Fan is more excited about than the Florida Marlins. Emilio Banifacio has given the team a spark on offense as he runs around the bases and he brings excitement when he plays. His ability to bunt for base hits really make him a threat. His one weakness is that he doesn't walk much. If he can develop some patience, look out! Hitting in front of Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu has been deadly to this point. Ramirez is really taking to his new spot in the lineup and has been an RBI machine thus far.

But what is really exciting about the Marlins is their pitching. Johnson, Volstad, Nolasco and Sanchez are all potential studs and three of those four have had great starts to their season. The bullpen has not been solid and they are questionable at closer with Lindstrom, but they have a couple of good arms like Penn, Colero and Nunez that could keep them in games.

Prediction: This is a tough division and the Braves look strong. But if the Marlins pitching holds up, they could be the Bay Rays of 2009.

Cincinatti Reds

The Reds have had a good start and are currently a game out of first place in the National League Central. They have two of the grittiest starting pitchers in baseball with Harang and Arroyo but it is really troubling that their two best arms in Volquez and Cueto cannot find a way to be consistently dominating. They have one dominating start and then they get clobbered. Until they can find a way to win when they don't have their best stuff, they will plague this team.

The Fan has watched two of the Red games this year and though Votto is off to a great start, this offense lacks patience and makes it too easy for the other team's starting pitching to get them out. They are very young and this Fan is not convinced that Bruce is the star everyone thinks he's going to be. He looks outmatched far too often.

The Reds have some good news in the bullpen. The veteran Rhodes has had a good start and Cordero is a very good closer. Burton, Weathers and Masset have also pitched well out of the pen thus far.

Prediction: Their inconsistent starting pitching and lack of patience at the plate will continue to sabotage this team and they will not be able to overcome the Cubs and Cardinals.

San Diego Padres

The Padres were expected to be abysmal this year and here they are at 6-2 and leading the National League West division. They have two very good starters in Peavy and Young and are getting a bit more offense than last year. But it seems likely that they will fall to earth in the not too distant future.

The offense is still troubling to the Fan. Giles doesn't seem to have much left. Adrian Gonzalez is a stud at first base, but will the timely hitting of Hundley, Haiston and Gerut continue? It seems unlikely. The rest of the starting rotation is a huge question mark as well. Walter Silva and Kevin Correia cannot find the strike zone often enough and never give the team more than five innings before they run out of pitch count. Shawn Hill gave the Padres a decent start, but his history is hard to overcome in thinking he will be much of a factor.

The bullpen, as always, is a strength for the Padres. Heath Bell looks fantastic as a closer and though the rest of the relievers don't blow people away, they seem very good at keeping the team in the game.

Prediction: The Padres don't seem to have enough offense and starting pitching to continue to contend. It seems inevitable that they shrink back to the pack. They still might be better than predictions though and might be better than the Giants and the Diamondbacks in the long run.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Red Sox Off to a Rough Start

The Boston Red Sox have opened the 2009 season at 2-5 and while a week is a drop in the bucket for the team in a 162 game season, there are some worrisome trends thus far in their season. They aren't hitting very well and they aren't pitching very well. And this was a team expected to do both.

Again, it's not time to panic after only seven games. But outside of Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis, the team has been anemic at the plate. Here are the OPS figures of several key players: Pedroia .615, Lowell .531, Ellsbury .459, Ortiz .541, Drew .540 and Lowrie .206 (!). The Red Sox were already worried about Ortiz and Lowell coming into the season after injury-filled and off production years last year. They both look slow and old. And one of their few hot hitters, Jason Bay, hurt his wrist last night, which could affect his offense for a while to come.

The real strength of the Red Sox going into the season was their pitching. On paper, they had a monster staff not even counting Buchholz, now at AAA, or John Smoltz. But other than Beckett, the vaunted starters have not started well. Matsuzaka gave up 12 base runners in 5.1 innings of work his first start and Jon Lester, expected by many to be a Cy Young candidate, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA to this point. Brad Penny got a win in his only start but gave up two homers in six innings.

The bullpen was also considered a strength. The loquacious Jonathan Papelbon has been shaky thus far, Okijama and Masterson have matching 13.50 ERAs and heralded newcomer Saito is at 7.71. Hardly good starts.

Again, it's early. The team has 155 games remaining on its schedule. But it's a troubling start for the Red Sox and in a tough division where one or two games can make a difference, it's a concern.

Mark Fidrych - Dead at 54

Two months ago, the Fan wrote a piece about Mark Fidrych. Looking back, the piece now feels like a eulogy. The "Bird" died today at the age of 54, apparently while working on his truck. His death is a shock as he was an important part of this writer's past and a memory that lingers to this day. It seems strangely fitting that Fidrych would die in such a fashion. He was such a down to earth kind of guy. That's what we all loved about him. We knew he was as genuine as they come. And for a season, he thrilled us.

The old saying is that bad things happen in "threes." Earlier we had the death of Nick Adenhart, then Fidrych and we also learned today of the death of the "voice" of the Phillies, Harry Kalas. The Fan hadn't been aware of Kalas, for some reason, until reading the news stories about his death and the tribute films of him calling memorable moments in Phillies' history. The voice was recognized for his work for NFL Films, where he succeeded another Philadelphia legend, John Facenda. The voice is unmistakable.

Though the Fan was unaware of Kalas, it wasn't long ago that the Fan's childhood "uncle," Phil Rizzuto, passed away and as anyone who grew up watching the Yankees mourned that loss, so must Philadelphia fans mourn their long time voice. Kalas was a fixture in Philadelphia for 39 years. And much like Fidrych, it is fitting that Kalas collapsed at the ballpark, where he was getting ready to announce a game.

It's been a tough week for baseball fans and a very sad one. We wish peace and comfort for all the loved ones of those that have passed from us and we will keep their memory with us.

Head Spinning Day of Baseball

While off the field, there was sad news, on the field, there were strange and head spinning happenings all over baseball. We had a cycle. We had a first baseman pitch. We had the debut of a new stadium and we had two players hit their 300th homers in the same game. Let's recap.

We'll start with the cycle. Orlando Hudson hit an infield single, a homer and a double against Randy Johnson and finished with the hardest part of any cycle, a triple down the right field corner. He just beat the relay throw into third. He was unaware of what he had done until he got into the dugout. A cycle has occurred only 284 times in major league history before Hudson's and his was the first for the Dodgers since Wes Parker did it in extra innings in 1970. The last Dodger to do it in a regulation game was Gil Hodges in 1949.

In other news of the day, Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees had his second consecutive miserable start and only lasted an inning. The Bay Rays beat up the Yankees so badly that Nick Swisher came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Yankees. Swisher, who has been one of the few Yankee highlights this short season, hit a homer in the game and upped his team lead in RBI to ten. Since the bullpen was gassed, he was given the ball by Girardi in the eighth.

The game was laughable by the time Swisher came in to pitch. Jorge Posada went to play first base while Swisher came in to pitch and the score was 15 - 5. The Fan was following along on Yahoo GameDay and when Swisher walked Upton and Willie Aybar singled to left, the Fan groaned and thought it would soon get very embarrassing. But then Gabe Kapler struck out (he'll never live that down), Carlos Pena popped out to second and Pat Burrell flied out to left. So Swisher will probably retire with a 0.00 ERA.

The Mets had their opening night in Citi Field and lost to the Padres. The winning run was brought in by a Pedro Feliciano balk. That always sucks. The Fan wonders how a home team feels in a new park. They have to feel like visitors themselves, no? At least for a while anyway.

The coolest feat of the day came in the top of the second inning at Detroit in a game that the White Sox beat the Tigers. Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko both hit their 300th career homers, not only in the same game, but in back to back at bats. How cool is that?

So in the last two days we've had a triple play, back to back 300th homers, a first baseman/outfielder pitching, a cycle and we haven't even mentioned the near no-hitter by Ted Lilly. The Fan can't wait to see what will happen tomorrow!

Monday, April 13, 2009

First Full Week Is In the Books

It snowed today on Easter in northern Maine. Spring has gotten under way in just about every where else, but not here. It sure was cruel to see those azaleas at the Masters and all that color and green. All we still have here in the frozen tundra is white and gray. And to make matters worse, the wind howled like a banshee all day. The Fan wonders how many more shingles he'll find in the back yard tomorrow. Well, at least a full week has been played in Major League Baseball. And what a screwy week it was.

Starting in the American League East, the three supposedly best teams in baseball have been treading water while the other two supposedly also-rans are on top of the division. The Blue Jays have looked really impressive to date. The Fan has said it before: Cito Gaston is one of the best managers in baseball.

Over in the AL Central, the Tigers are doing surprisingly well and the Indians surprisingly terrible. The Indians are now 1-5 and their lack of pitching is killing them. They may end up with more runs given up than the Rangers. Carl Pavano had one of the ugliest pitching lines in a long time the other day and all Yankee fans smirked.

In the AL West, Seattle, of all teams, is on top of the division with a 5-2 record and getting good pitching so far. The rest of the division is either .500 or just below it. The first team to 85 wins might win the AL West.

The NL East looks surprising as the Braves and Marlins look fantastic while the Phillies and the Mets are at .500. The Nationals might not win a game this year. Okay, they will win a couple. But that's about it.

The NL Central is showing what the Fan feared most, a St. Louis resurgence. The Fan has nothing against that city and its great baseball fans. Just not a big fan of Tony LaRussa, who always seemed like one of my Sicilian uncles down in New Jersey with questionable loyalties, if you know what I mean. But the guy knows how to run a club and win. And with Pujols, Carpenter and Wellemeyer, they could just pull it off.

The NL West is showing the Padres on top of the division. What the heck is going on here? No wonder the Fan is like 40-60 on his picks this week. These guys are making this writer look pretty stupid. The Dodgers should win this division and if they don't, it will be a big surprise the way all those teams look so far.

The league leader board is looking typical for a new and young season. Four players are batting above .500: Theriot, Youkilis, Miguel Cabrera and the Marlins' Bonifacio, who seems like the most exciting new player in the league. He's been scary good. Longoria, who most already knew was scary good is at .481. Longoria and Cabrera already have ten RBI and Longoria leads the league with five homers followed by Inge with four homers. Inge?

Johan Santana already has 20 strikeouts and in a real kicker in the lungs, Adenhart is on top of the leader board with a 0.00 ERA. So sad.

It's early and those standings and leader boards are hard to take seriously, but there are some surprises as there always are in the first week. It's just another reason why we love baseball, isn't it?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Celebrating a Halladay on Easter Sunday Morning

Stating that Roy Halladay is a really good pitcher is sort of like stating that Easter is a pretty important holiday in the world of Christianity. The statement is as obvious as that and yet is very much understated. Simply put, Roy Halladay is the bomb.

Halladay has won 67% of his games (132-66) since his first full year in 1999. In that same time frame, his team has a winning percentage of .504 (819-806). It was no surprise that in 2004, when he missed significant time with injuries and missed more than ten starts, the Blue Jays had their worst year and lost over 90 games. If you take out that one year, where he obviously wasn't himself, Halladay has won 70% of his games since 2002.

But Wins aren't the end all as we all now know when it comes to pitching statistics. Halladay's career WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is 1.21. But in the last seven years his WHIP line looks like this: 1.07, 1.35 (the injury year), 0.96, 1.10, 1.24, 1.05 and 1.00 so far this year in two starts. His OPS over that time looks like the entire league was played by Juan Pierre. Since 2003, his strikeout to walk ratio is 4.19 to 1. Wow! Take out that injured 2004 and it is 4.58 to 1.

Throw into his mix of statistics that he has 40 complete games in his career in the age of the closer and eleven shutouts and you have one terrific pitcher. But because of him playing in Toronto and on the wrong side of the border, and on a team that hasn't contended in a while and he is vastly under appreciated.

The Blue Jays have started 5-1 this year and Halladay is already 2-0. He won 20 games last year and seems to be a pretty good bet to do that again this year if he stays healthy. He's only won a single Cy Young award but should have won it again last year. He had the lowest WHIP in the league despite pitching the most innings and facing the most batters. Also consider that against the division's two best teams, the Red Sox and the Yankees, they have a career OPS against him of .725 and .649 respectively.

Halladay is a horse and he is one of the gems of his generation.