Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Roy Halladay Retires, And Will Force The Hall Of Fame To Enter The 21st Century

When He Was Perfect
Roy Halladay surprised people today by retiring, at age 36, just two years removed from being one of the most effective pitchers in the game. And while people might wonder if he would have stuck around with a contract, or whether he might come back if the arm feels better in six months, I'd prefer to think that he's the kind of guy who is just too definitive to turn back on a new path. Which means it's time, now and in five years, to see where he stands.

By the best standard of whether or not a player is a Hall of Famer -- i.e., is it possible to tell the story of what the game in his era without mentioning his name without malfeasance -- he qualifies with honors. You can take the perfect game or the post-season no-hitter or the spectacular control or the sheer indomitable will that called to mind a bygone era of meaner than mean guys who didn't need to hit the batsman to intimidate the hell out of them.

I always just enjoyed watching him pitch, because it was equal parts cerebral and primal. Halladay looked hittable, yet rarely was. He also looked like a guy that would be able to survive for a long time on guile; that wasn't the case. But by sheer value to his team, he outranks Bob Feller, and while his ERA doesn't appear as spectacular as it should given that he spent much of his life in a steroid era in the best division in baseball, the numbers are still more than good enough to punch his ticket. The only real debate should be whether he gets in during his first year of eligibility.

And yet, there's one historical chink the argument. 203 career wins. (Against 105 losses, by the way. That's pretty amazing, even given the flaws of the loss count.) Most of that for teams that weren't all that great.

Which puts him in a band of guys who, well, don't seem as good as him. By a pretty long shot.

Tim Hudson -- 205-111, 3.44 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
CC Sabathia -- 205-115, 3.60 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Orel Hershiser -- 204-149, 3.48 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Halladay -- 203-105, 3.38 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Chuck Finley -- 200-173, 3.85 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

You can also throw Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen and Pedro Martinez in that list, all of whom seem like better comps to me. By the advanced metrices, Halladay is above the average HOFer, and in the top 50 guys to ever toe the rubber as a starter.

But the single biggest reason why Halladay is going to the Hall is that, well, the Hall is going to continue to exist... and there isn't going to be a better crop of starters in the next five to ten years. Let's look at that crop...

Roger Clemens -- whoops, PEDs
Randy Johnson -- will be in
Greg Maddux -- will be in
Pedro Martinez -- solid comp, probably better
Curt Schilling -- not as good
Mike Mussina -- probably in due to 270 wins, but not super-fast
Tom Glavine - Last 300 (actually, 305) game winner, so he's in

And, well, all of those guys are going to make it, assuming the HOF relents on Clemens at some point. But after that, there really isn't anyone on the immediate horizon better than Halladay... and there's no earthly reason to think less of his candidacy for not having a few more wins in a few more Not Really Roy Halladay any more years.

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